La Grande Illusion (1937)
"La grande illusion" (original title)

Unrated  |   |  Drama, War  |  12 September 1938 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 8.2/10 from 24,606 users  
Reviews: 120 user | 117 critic

During the first World War, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German P.O.W. camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are sent to a seemingly impenetrable fortress which seems impossible to escape from.



(scenario and dialogue), (scenario and dialogue)
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A bourgeois life in France at the onset of World War II, as the rich and their poor servants meet up at a French chateau.

Director: Jean Renoir
Stars: Marcel Dalio, Nora Gregor, Paulette Dubost
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

The theatrical life of a beautiful courtesan and the four men who love her.

Director: Marcel Carné
Stars: Arletty, Jean-Louis Barrault, Pierre Brasseur
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

A chronicle of the trial of Jeanne d'Arc on charges of heresy, and the efforts of her ecclesiastical jurists to force Jeanne to recant her claims of holy visions.

Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer
Stars: Maria Falconetti, Eugene Silvain, André Berley
Fantasy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A beautiful young woman takes her father's place as the prisoner of a mysterious beast, who wishes to marry her.

Directors: Jean Cocteau, René Clément
Stars: Jean Marais, Josette Day, Mila Parély
Sunrise (1927)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

A married farmer falls under the spell of a slatternly woman from the city, who tries to convince him to drown his wife.

Director: F.W. Murnau
Stars: George O'Brien, Janet Gaynor, Margaret Livingston
Tokyo Story (1953)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

An old couple visit their children and grandchildren in the city; but the children have little time for them.

Director: Yasujirô Ozu
Stars: Chishû Ryû, Chieko Higashiyama, Sô Yamamura
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A young journalist (Lespert) helps the French President compile his memoirs.

Director: Robert Guédiguian
Stars: Michel Bouquet, Jalil Lespert, Philippe Fretun
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

After another cardiac arrest, Armand knows he doesn't have long to live. But after more than 70 years in the same house, he doesn't want to die anywhere else. His wife, Rose, has secretly ... See full summary »

Director: Jean Pierre Lefebvre
Stars: Marthe Nadeau, J. Léo Gagnon, Marcel Sabourin
The Novena (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Director: Bernard Émond
Stars: Elise Guilbault, Patrick Drolet, Marie-Josée Bastien
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

The wife of photographer J.A. Martin decides to go with him in his tour of the hard Canadian countryside at the turn of the century. She hopes the intimacy will revive their marriage.

Director: Jean Beaudin
Stars: Marcel Sabourin, Monique Mercure, Marthe Thierry
Codine (1963)
Crime | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

An ex-convict struggles to survive by brute force alone in a turn-of-the-century slum in Braila. Codine (Alexandre Virgil Platon) is the thug who served 10 years for murdering a friend. He ... See full summary »

Director: Henri Colpi
Stars: Alexandru Virgil Platon, Razvan Petrescu, Françoise Brion
Trotta (1971)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Director: Johannes Schaaf
Stars: András Bálint, Rosemarie Fendel, Doris Kunstmann


Complete credited cast:
Le captaine de Boeldieu
Le captaine von Rauffenstein (as Eric von Stroheim)
Cartier - l'acteur (as Carette)
Georges Péclet ...
Le serrurier (as Peclet)
Werner Florian ...
Le sergent Arthur
Jean Dasté ...
L'instituteur (as Daste)
Sylvain Itkine ...
Le lieutenant Demolder (as Itkine)
Gaston Modot ...
L'ingénieur (as Modot)
Le lieutenant Rosenthal (as Dalio)


During 1st WW, two French officers are captured. Captain De Boeldieu is an aristocrat while Lieutenant Marechal was a mechanic in civilian life. They meet other prisoners from various backgrounds, as Rosenthal, son of wealthy Jewish bankers. They are separated from Rosenthal before managing to escape. A few months later, they meet again in a fortress commanded by the aristocrat Van Rauffenstein. De Boeldieu strikes up a friendship with him but Marechal and Rosenthal still want to escape... Written by Yepok

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A Film of Great Power and Compassion! See more »


Drama | War


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





| | |

Release Date:

12 September 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Grand Illusion  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$50,793 (USA) (13 August 1999)


$172,885 (USA) (30 November 2012)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (1937 release)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Erich von Stroheim's contributions extended to the look of the officer's uniform and the décor of his fortress chambers: the Gothic bed, the solitary geranium in the window that came to figure so prominently in his relationship with Boeldieu. Jean Renoir did not accept all his suggestions. He nixed the idea of covering the chambers in black crepe. But by and large, theirs was a very productive collaboration that gave new shape and meaning to the film. See more »


When Lt. Maréchal is climbing down the rope from the watchtower the wooden window shutters can be seen closing above him even though he closed them himself minutes prior. See more »


Capt. de Boeldieu: May I ask you a question?
Capt. von Rauffenstein: Of course.
Capt. de Boeldieu: Why did you make an exception of me by inviting me here?
Capt. von Rauffenstein: Because your name is Boeldieu, career officer in the French Army. And I am Rauffenstein, career officer in the Imperial German Army.
Capt. de Boeldieu: But my comrades are officers as well.
Capt. von Rauffenstein: A 'Maréchal' and 'Rosenthal,' officers?
Capt. de Boeldieu: They're fine soldiers.
Capt. von Rauffenstein: Charming legacy of the French Revolution.
Capt. de Boeldieu: Neither you nor I can stop the march of time.
Capt. von Rauffenstein: Boldieu, I don't know who will win this war, but whatever the outcome, it will mean...
See more »


It's a Long, Long Way to Tipperary
(1912) (uncredited)
Written by Jack Judge and Harry Williams
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A Timeless Classic
21 June 2001 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

Jean Renoir's classic "La Grande Illusion" has something to recommend it to anyone - there is fine acting, directing, writing, and photography, and a story filled with memorable characters who are involved in action, suspense, and drama, with some comic parts and even, later in the film, some romance. All of it fits together perfectly to create a timeless and very satisfying experience.

The movie takes place during World War I, and is often considered an anti-war film, but the themes about humanity, relationships, loyalties, and identities are all timeless and go beyond any mere political statement. The interplay between persons of different nationalities and classes, thrown together by the war, leads to good drama and makes some profound points about human nature. The story primarily follows three Frenchmen who are taken prisoner by the Germans, showing us how they manage to deal with their confinement, and allowing us to watch their disappointments and their attempts to escape. The other main character is a German prison camp commander with whom they become friendly, raising complicated questions of loyalty and duty.

The character studies are excellent, and all the fine acting and directing get the most of out the possibilities. The settings are convincing and help the viewer feel what it was like to be in camp with the prisoners, sharing their boredom and their longing for freedom. The plot itself is interesting, and has some exciting moments, but the main emphasis is on what the characters learn about themselves and about humanity in general. There are many thoughtful scenes and some nicely defined secondary characters that round out the picture.

This is a fine movie, deserving of its reputation, and one that should appeal highly to anyone who enjoys classic cinema.

31 of 38 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
the flutes sleepybone
Racist moment? chapmanshomer
What would you say is the 'grand illusion'? conifranoh
Illusion vs. Citizen Kane kapps73
Heil Hitler? kjewitt
cross dressing jmegoddessoflove
Discuss La Grande Illusion (1937) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: