During the First World War, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German POW camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are sent to a seemingly impenetrable fortress which seems impossible to escape from.
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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
Goebbels made sure that the film's print was one of the first things seized by the Germans when they occupied France. He referred to Jean Renoir as "Cinematic Public Enemy Number 1". For many years it was assumed that the film had been destroyed in an Allied air raid in 1942. However, a German film archivist named Frank Hansel, then a Nazi officer in Paris, had actually smuggled it back to Berlin. Then when the Russians entered Berlin in 1945, the film found its way to an archive in Moscow. When Jean Renoir came to restore his film in the 1960s, he knew nothing of Hansel's acquisition and was working from an old muddy print. Purely by coincidence at the same time, the Russian archive swapped some material with an archive in Toulouse. Included in that exchange was the original negative print. However, because so many prints of the film existed at the time, it would be another 30 years before anyone realised that the version in Toulouse was actually the original negative. 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 »
One of greatest anti-war films with memorable acting from Stroheim, Gavin and Fresnay.
During WWI two officers are imprisoned , lieutenant Marichal (Jean Gavin), and cultured captain named De Boeldueu (Pierre Fresnay). Later on, they meet other inmates as a rich Jew banker named Roshental(Marcel Dalio). Some time later, they meet again in a prison-castle commanded by aristocrat official Van Rauffenstein(Erich Von Stroheim in spinal collar).
This is an excellent classic anti-war and deals about friendship, comradeship, and human relations. A heart-breaker and elegiac movie in the way it shows war undercutting and qualities of prison life. Interesting performances enhance an eloquent screenplay by Charles Spaak . It's a moving reflexion on high and low class , about war and death. Time has not diminished its qualities nor its charming to the emotions. Exceptional Erich Von Stroheim , remarkable in a self-effecting performance and perfect Jean Gavin as good official and mechanic in civilian life ; furthermore the comic relief by Carette. Fine musical score by Joseph Kosma , including emotive ¨Marseillaise ¨during theatrical acting. The movie was deservedly nominated best foreign film and won special prize of festival of Venice.
The film is excellently screen-written and directed by Jean Renoir who approach the intensity and feel of his best works. Son of painter impressionist Auguste Renoir , was perhaps the best of French directors . At its initial French period he directed classics as ¨Boudu saved drowning, Rules of the game, Marseillaise, Day in the country¨ and of course ¨Grand Illusion¨ in which his optimism remains relentless . Renoir was in Hollywood for seven years, where he made ¨Swamp water, Southerner, Diary of chambermaid, This land is mine,and Woman on the beach¨. He returned France where directed other classic films as ¨Carrozza dóro, Testament Dr Cordelier, Picnic on the grass, Vanishing corporal¨ and several others. His films have influenced on Francois Truffaut, Luchino Visconti, Satyajit Ray , among them. Rating : above average, an extraordinary and sensational film.
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