Title:  The Dictator’s Playbook

Year: 2019

Genre:  Documentary | Drama | History |

Seasons: 1 |

Runtime:  53 min/episode

Director: Mark Stevenson

Starring: Tim Beckmann, Natasha Ezrow, Mariam Mufti


From Mussolini to Saddam Hussein, dictators have shaped the world we live in. This series answers how dictators seized and wielded power in six immersive hours, each a revealing portrait of brutality.

DisneyPlus series that depicts the overall tactics that ruthless leaders have used to stay in power, lists both known and unknown cruel dictators that have made an impact in the 20th century. The structure of the series is fairly like the Peter Dinklage – narrated docuseries How to Become a Tyrant (2021-) available on Netflix as both share the same theme and prospects.

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This one has a less sardonic tone. The details are something that the other streaming service succeeded with as it culminates to a certain point. DisneyPlus own series is all over the place despite the common narrator with its crisp voice, the endless talking head, archive materials, and infographic combined with photographs. The depth is something that gains this series in the long run, allowing for a more sophisticated narrative. Most are still known with these dictators, and this proves as well that the 1930s were a difficult time in the world. Especially in Europe as most of the dictators in the mini-series are from the continent itself. A strong European representation makes one think that the world was perhaps not better in the past. The series aims to tell an interesting, detailed backstory for each individual during these six episodes.

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The series tries to visualize with re-enactment showing certain and important moments in each dictator’s life. It works in one way but doesn’t really add any depth to what the series tries to plot. It’s a generally produced historic documentary provided by PBS Through these interviews, it emphasizes the obvious and spends a lot of time explaining it.  Surprisingly, with its flaws, the series resonates with modern conflicts and it’s easy to make parallels to what’s happening in today’s conflict. As you know, history has an effortless sense to repeat itself endlessly.


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