Four Brits tunnel out of a German POW camp. One is killed, two are recaptured and one escapes. Scottish Corporal Nicholas McGrade, the lone escapee is a slacker and reluctant soldier, but ...
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Four Brits tunnel out of a German POW camp. One is killed, two are recaptured and one escapes. Scottish Corporal Nicholas McGrade, the lone escapee is a slacker and reluctant soldier, but is coerced into the secret MI9 Unit and participates in the facilitation of other escapes. Wills and Jack Rose, the two escapees who were recaptured are transferred to Colditz, a medieval castle in Saxony which has been refitted as an escape-proof, high security institution to house recitative prisoners who repeatedly attempt to escape. At Rose's request McGrade looks up Rose's girlfriend in Britain only to find out he is falling in love with her. When the faithful Lizzie rejects the advances of the smitten McGrade, he uses his influence to fake Jack's death so as to clear any obstacles to Lizzie. Written by
One of the reasons Colditz was suitable to be refitted as a POW camp was that it was built on an outcropping of solid rock, making tunneling almost impossible. After serving as a general POW camp in 1939, it was later converted into a high security camp for recidivist escapees, the only amp in which guards outnumbered prisoners, the majority of the which were initially British, French, Poles, and Dutch. All in all, 130 prisoners escaped the grounds but depending on the source referenced, only 30, 31, or 32 of these were ultimately "home runs." See more »
At about 32 minutes into part two, Jack is leafing through a German magazine. The photo on the cover was taken about a year later, during the Battle of the Bulge. See more »
A POW castle, escapees, love, treason and betrayal
When a very solid movie has been made on a true event, based on a book, or both, the Hollywoods of the world are hard pressed to repeat success with a remake. A rare few have been as successful when they copy an original hit movie. The vast majority either have failed outright or have had much less audience appeal. Yet, if one has a good story, or maybe a couple of good stories that you can change and mesh into a new tale of sorts, it's worth a try. That's what we have in this TV mini- series. "Colditz" was produced by Granada TV and aired on the BBC two nights in March 2005.
The movie title is taken from the famed German POW camp for Allied escapee officers. The filming in the Czech Republic gave some reality to the period and the place. And, it has some similarities to real prisoners who had been imprisoned at Colditz. The most striking of these is the character of Willis, played exceptionally well by Laurence Fox. Ironically, the real person he portrayed, Michael Sinclair, was called the Red Fox by the Germans. They had distributed his picture throughout Germany. The red-headed British captain may have been the most expert escape artist in WW II. He escaped nine times, including twice from Colditz. In this movie, Willis is finally killed when a German solider shoots him. This scene is depicted about as it happened to Sinclair. He jumped the fence and was running to the woods when he was shot. He was the only prisoner in the six years of the Colditz camp to be killed while escaping.
But, this film otherwise has a major detraction from the story about Colditz Castle and the escape attempts. The first film about Colditz was in 1955. It had to condense much and the filmmakers made some changes, but it told the story as written by one of the first Colditz escapees, Patrick R. Reid.
Another American movie was made in 1971; and in 1972-74, the BBC ran a series with 28 episodes. Reid advised and worked on that series, and had written a follow-up book with more details. Now, jump forward 30 years, and someone at Granada TV thought this would be a good candidate for a remake. But, it couldn't copy the original. In fact, it should have the gratuitous female for romance and then some. So, the writers came up with a new story that they hoped would have appeal to modern audiences. The two-installment mini series was the result.
I don't know why they bothered to identify it with Colditz, except for the likely appeal from the name and real story. That was another way to draw people to the series. And, to be fair, it does show some realistic scenes about prisoners and escape attempts. But the story is much more about betrayal than it is about romance or escape from a POW camp. Those things surely are part of the story. But this more clearly is a story about a faithful girlfriend during wartime; a self-centered, rebellious and uncaring British soldier; and betrayal of another solider, his girlfriend and his country by lustful persistence, lies, deceit murder and treason. So, for all of this, this rendition of "Colditz" is captivating and quite good. It has strong interest and entertainment appeal. I found myself wanting and looking forward to justice being done with the betrayer and lout.
I've not used character names here to keep the intrigue in the story for anyone who hasn't yet seen the film but would like to watch it. And by all means, if you haven't yet seen the original 1955 film with John Mills and Eric Portman, by all means watch for it to air or look for it in stores. It's worth the purchase price to have the real story and film.
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