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

Unrated  |   |  Drama, War  |  12 September 1938 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 24,282 users  
Reviews: 120 user | 116 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)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Dita Parlo ...
Le captaine de Boeldieu
Le captaine von Rauffenstein (as Eric von Stroheim)
Julien Carette ...
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 Great Drama of Human Emotions 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?


On this and all his films, Jean Renoir worked very collaboratively with everyone, readily accepting suggestions from cast and crew and frequently improvising scenes to achieve a great sense of spontaneity. 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 »


Un officier de la forteresse: More coffee sir?
Capt. von Rauffenstein: If you call this muck coffee I have to accept it. At least it warms my insides.
See more »


Referenced in Casablanca (1942) See more »


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

So,I finally saw it and of course I thought it was one of the best films ever!!!
4 January 2002 | by (sweden) – See all my reviews

I have tried to get this film for months on the criterion collection but it seems impossible here in Sweden(Maybe not impossible,you can order it on Amazon but that´s to expensive).So when I finally found it on video this is what I say about it:

This anti-war masterpiece film is really ONE OF THE GREATEST FILMS EVER.I almost liked it as much as seven samurai.It´s a about a group of French prisoners during the world war one.

The performances is simply some of the best I have seen(Jean Gabin Erich von Stroheim...).The cinematography is beautiful,great script but I guess i was most impressed by the direction by Jean Renoir.

I don´t think that I have been more touched by a film then this.It has such a deep humanity.A poetic film that should be seen by every one.Also remember that I have only seen this film once and it could be in my top 20 over the best films ever and when I watch it again it could be in top 3.


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