8.1/10
31,726
130 user 131 critic

Grand Illusion (1937)

La grande illusion (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, War | 12 September 1938 (USA)
Trailer
2:05 | Trailer
During WWI, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German P.O.W. camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are eventually sent to a seemingly inescapable fortress.

Director:

Jean Renoir

Writers:

Charles Spaak (scenario and dialogue), Jean Renoir (scenario and dialogue)
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A bourgeois life in France at the onset of World War II, as the rich and their poor servants meet up at a French chateau.

Director: Jean Renoir
Stars: Marcel Dalio, Nora Gregor, Paulette Dubost
L'Atalante (1934)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Newly married couple Juliette and a ship captain Jean struggle through marriage as they travel on the L'atalante along with the captain's first mate Le père Jules and a cabin boy.

Director: Jean Vigo
Stars: Dita Parlo, Jean Dasté, Gilles Margaritis
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

The theatrical life of a beautiful courtesan and the four men who love her.

Director: Marcel Carné
Stars: Arletty, Jean-Louis Barrault, Pierre Brasseur
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

In this classic adaptation of Emile Zola's novel, a tortured train engineer falls in love with a troubled married woman who has helped her husband commit a murder.

Director: Jean Renoir
Stars: Jean Gabin, Julien Carette, Simone Simon
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A military deserter finds love and trouble (and a small dog) in a smoky French port city.

Director: Marcel Carné
Stars: Jean Gabin, Michel Simon, Michèle Morgan
Short | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The family of a Parisian shop-owner spends a day in the country. The daughter falls in love with a man at the inn, where they spend the day.

Director: Jean Renoir
Stars: Sylvia Bataille, Jane Marken, Georges D'Arnoux
Drama | Thriller | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

During the Nazi occupation of Rome in 1944, the Resistance leader, Giorgio Manfredi, is chased by the Nazis as he seeks refuge and a way to escape.

Director: Roberto Rossellini
Stars: Anna Magnani, Aldo Fabrizi, Marcello Pagliero
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

After committing a murder, a man locks himself in his apartment and recollects the events that led him to the killing.

Director: Marcel Carné
Stars: Jean Gabin, Jacqueline Laurent, Arletty
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

In 1431, Jeanne d'Arc is placed on trial on charges of heresy. The ecclesiastical jurists attempt to force Jeanne to recant her claims of holy visions.

Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer
Stars: Maria Falconetti, Eugene Silvain, André Berley
Greed (1924)
Drama | Thriller | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

The sudden fortune won from a lottery fans such destructive greed that it ruins the lives of the three people involved.

Director: Erich von Stroheim
Stars: Gibson Gowland, Zasu Pitts, Jean Hersholt
Drama | History | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

In the midst of the Russian Revolution of 1905, the crew of the battleship Potemkin mutiny against the brutal, tyrannical regime of the vessel's officers. The resulting street demonstration in Odessa brings on a police massacre.

Director: Sergei M. Eisenstein
Stars: Aleksandr Antonov, Vladimir Barskiy, Grigoriy Aleksandrov
Certificate: Passed Comedy | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

During the Nazi occupation of Poland, an acting troupe becomes embroiled in a Polish soldier's efforts to track down a German spy.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Stars: Carole Lombard, Jack Benny, Robert Stack
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
Jean Gabin ... Le lieutenant Maréchal
Dita Parlo ... Elsa
Pierre Fresnay ... Le captaine de Boeldieu
Erich von Stroheim ... Le captaine von Rauffenstein (as Eric von Stroheim)
Julien Carette ... Cartier - l'acteur (as Carette)
Georges Péclet Georges Péclet ... Le serrurier (as Peclet)
Werner Florian Werner Florian ... Le sergent Arthur
Jean Dasté ... L'instituteur (as Daste)
Sylvain Itkine Sylvain Itkine ... Le lieutenant Demolder (as Itkine)
Gaston Modot ... L'ingénieur (as Modot)
Marcel Dalio ... 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:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

France

Language:

French | German | English | Russian

Release Date:

12 September 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Grand Illusion See more »

Filming Locations:

Chamonix, Haute-Savoie, France See more »

Edit

Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$19,821
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (1937 release)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Fort Douaumont was the largest fort in the defenses of Verdun. It was taken by the Germans on February 24th 1916 and recaptured by the French on October 24th 1916 as part of the Battle of Verdun (February 21st 1916 to December 18th 1916). The recapture of the fort is estimated to have cost the French army 100,000 casualties. The selection of this battle for the film is significant as German and French historians often use the battle to represent the horrors of the Great War. Estimates of total deaths (French and German) range around the 300,000 mark, with total casualties between 750,000 and 1,000,000. Note also that Elsa's husband was killed at the battle for Verdun. 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

Lieutenant Rosenthal: Gentlemen, dinner is served. What shall we begin with? Cold chicken, pâté de foie, mackerel in wine?
Capt. de Boeldieu: Quite a menu!
Lieutenant Maréchal: Don't they feed us?
L'ingénieur: They do in theory. In fact it's uneatable. Fortunately there are our parcels, especially Rosenthal's.
Lieutenant Rosenthal: Please. Drop of cognac as an aperitif?
Capt. de Boeldieu: Why not?
Cartier - l'acteur: I have never eaten so well in my life! Some fish?
Lieutenant Maréchal: Yes, please.
Cartier - l'acteur: I'm starting to take Rosenthal's kindness for granted. It shows man is a creature of habit.
L'instituteur: No need to tell you he's a teacher. Teach, preach, screech,...
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Riverdale: Chapter Nine: La Grande Illusion (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

La Marseillaise
(1792) (uncredited)
Written by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A Vision of Reality the Way it Shouldn't Be...
20 August 1999 | by Don-102See all my reviews

It is a wonder to see a film from the 1930's so definite in its view and opinions, yet so touching and revelatory. Jean Renoir's GRAND ILLUSION is a film of great importance, one that improves with each viewing. Having just finished the picture again for the first time in some 7 years, I was struck by its freshness. It is an Anti-War film set during World War I that is something to watch. It demands intense viewing.

This is a French work of art by the great Renoir, who would make his most acclaimed film, RULES OF THE GAME, two years later. If you ask me, GRAND ILLUSION is the superior pic and holds up immeasurably better. The small doses of humor and original characters in this film foresee the classic "shooting party" of RULES OF THE GAME. With this movie, Renoir uses prisoners-of-war and the ludicrous element of war so prevalent in early 20th Century Europe and merges them into a film not unlike a play (an extremely well-written play). The viewer has no illusions as to whether or not a war is happening. We happen not to see any battles or gunplay, rather, the human element between men and women who are not so different no matter their ethnicity.

Renoir's camera is an incredible tool used throughout. He probes the characters at the various prison camps with some smooth dolly shots and brilliant use of focus and pull-backs. It seems like an extension of his hand, much like his father's paintings. One striking scene has some weary soldiers singing the French "Las Marseilles" after getting third hand knowledge of a French victory over their German captors. Any scene with Erich von Stroheim is interesting because he is human and not some mindless German dictator so many people would come to know at the time of the film's release. He is a broken man, scarred by war and looking to gain a friend in the enemy. This is rare.

As far as prison camp films go, these guys seem to have it easy, however the fact that they are officers gives us some explanation. The story-line effectively moves from escape attempts to human realization of the situation they are in. Parts of it reminded me of STALAG 17, Billy Wilder's 1953 classic no doubt inspired by GRAND ILLUSION. This is Wilder's film without the Hollywood touch, realist and sometimes drab. Abel Gance's J'ACCUSE would follow a year later. If you want to see some anti-WWI films with two completely opposite methods of warning beneath the surface, see these two flicks back to back.

The illusion of reality is shattered by war, Renoir is telling us. If only it could be as simple as those amazing shots of the countryside from inside the German woman's house: a breathtaking, simple look at a peaceful scene the way it should be.

RATING: ***1/2


36 of 45 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 130 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed