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

Unrated  |   |  Drama, War  |  12 September 1938 (USA)
8.2
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 24,069 users  
Reviews: 119 user | 114 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.

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(scenario and dialogue), (scenario and dialogue)
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Title: La Grande Illusion (1937)

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

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Cast

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)
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

A Great Drama of Human Emotions See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

12 September 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Grand Illusion  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

$172,885 (USA) (30 November 2012)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (1937 release)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jean Renoir had difficulty securing backing for the film until he told his producers that he had Jean Gabin on board. Gabin at the time was France's biggest box office draw. See more »

Goofs

As the WWI German soldiers are celebrating a French fort's capture, the map on the wall of the officers club is clearly an inter-war (1919-1938) map of Germany. See more »

Quotes

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 »

Connections

Referenced in Hugo (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Frou-frou
(1898) (uncredited)
Composed by Henri Chateau
Lyrics by Hector Monréal & Henri Blondeau
Performed by Fréhel and Jean Gabin
See more »

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User Reviews

 
How language separates us
27 August 1999 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

What makes Grand Illusion a great movie, and the reason that some of us keep returning to it, is that it can't be reduced to a single simple proposition, the way that recent war movies like Platoon ("war bad," to quote Tarantino's synopsis) or Saving Private Ryan ("war senseless") can. It's easy to be sentimental about war, even while deploring it, by focusing on the horror of it or by making heroes out of those who are forced to fight. Renoir deals instead with the far more complex mesh of differences and alliances that separate and divide our characters. And while his main characters all have a clear class/national/religious identity, he makes much more out of them than just sociological categories.

But trying to explain why Grand Illusion is such a great movie by charting all the conflicting bonds of nationality, class, religion, etc. doesn't explain why the movie is so powerful. To me it is in those scenes in which language either separates our characters (as when Marechal tries and fails to tell the British prisoners about the tunnel or asks why de Boeldieu uses "vous") or unites them (as when von Rauffenstein and de Boeldieu speak in English or the English officer (in drag) sings the Marseillaise or when Marechal finally learns a little German). In these cases, Renoir uses language-without hitting us over the head to make the point-to illustrate the conflict between his ideal of sympathy between humans and the differences of class, nationality and religion.

Now I know that this sounds just as dry and academic as other attempts to explain Grand Illusion. Maybe it is; the movie really does not need to be explained to be enjoyed. But these are the scenes that, for whatever reason, have always made the greatest impression on me.


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