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This is the true story of Oberleutnant Franz von Werra, the only German prisoner of war to escape from imprisonment in Britain during the Second World War. Written by
Patrick Dominick <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The bow of the ship that carries von Werra to Canada is seen in close-up travelling symbolically right to left across the screen. Unfortunately, the original stock footage was of a bow travelling left to right and the editor just stuck a piece in, reversed. The numbers are mirrored. See more »
[Talking on phone about von Werra]
All the routine jargon, of course, but he doesn't believe a word of it. It just happens to suit his own book.
[Voice on phone]
Is he a keen party member?
No, sir, the only thing von Werra believes in is von Werra, a mixture of bombast and sheer nerve.
See more »
Opening credits prologue: SEPTEMBER 5th 1940 WINCHET HILL, KENT. See more »
I'm somewhat biased about this film - which really is a great piece of story telling - because my Dad was in it! He was doing his National Service at the time the film was made, and the Army provided squaddies as extras in the search scenes.
When Von Werra is captured in a boggy patch my Dad is the corporal who provides a spare poncho to keep the German officer warm. He even has a line... "Yes, I've got one Sir." or something to that effect. Last time the film was shown in the U.K. his speech was rather badly edited out, much to the dismay of his loyal following.
I think the film works really well at putting you on the side of the captive, so that even watching from a partisan British perspective it is hard not to want him to succeed in outwitting his gaolers.
The only flaw for me is the slightly romanticised crossing of The St. Lawrence. By this stage the director is going for such a sympathetic depiction of Von Werra that he seems almost childlike. I think Von Werra was a sufficiently capable media manipulator for his version of events to have percolated down into the film. He wanted to be seen as a romantic, chivalrous hero but maybe he was tougher and more ruthless than he would have us believe?
Overall a great story, based on real events and characters, with some wonderful film making. Watch it, and watch out for my Dad!
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