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La Grande Illusion (1937)

La grande illusion (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, War | 12 September 1938 (USA)
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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.

Director:

Jean Renoir

Writers:

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

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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)
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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 Film of Great Power and Compassion! See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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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 »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$50,793, 13 August 1999

Gross USA:

$172,885, 2 December 2012
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 »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The biggest shift in the story came about after Erich von Stroheim was cast. The actor-director-writer had recently returned to Europe in an effort to salvage his fading career. Various stories exist about how he came to be cast and what role he was originally offered, but what is clear is that Von Stroheim suggested he play both the gracious, aristocratic captor who first receives Marechal and Boeldieu as prisoners and the commandant of the fortress prison where they end up. Struggling through language barriers (each spoke different degrees of French, German and English), a collaboration between director and actor grew, combining both roles into one and enriching Von Rauffenstein from a sketchy character in the script into one who played a pivotal part in the film's themes of class differences, bonds stretching across borders, and the death-knell of the old aristocracy. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Lieutenant Maréchal: We've retaken Douaumont! They announce it themselves!
POW in drag: "La Marseillaise" please.
[singing]
POW in drag: Allons enfants de la Patrie...
French POWs: [singing] Le jour de gloire est arrivé! Contre nous de la tyrannie, L'étendard sanglant est levé, Le jour de gloire est arrivé! Contre nous de la tyrannie, L'étendard sanglant est levé...
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Koyaanisqatsi (1982) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
One of greatest anti-war films with memorable acting from Stroheim, Gavin and Fresnay.
4 December 2009 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

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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