Based on a true story, a group of allied escape artist-type prisoners-of-war are all put in an "escape proof" camp. Their leader decides to try to take out several hundred all at once. The first half of the movie is played for comedy, as the prisoners mostly outwit their jailers to dig the escape tunnel. The second half is high adventure as they use planes, trains, and boats to get out of occupied Europe.Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
The official report about the escape claims that 76 prisoners got out. In the film only three of the characters are shown making it all the way to freedom: Sedgwick, Danny, and Willie. See more »
As the prisoners arrive in Stalag III, many are carrying their belongings in duffle bags or suitcases which is pure nonsense. They may have received some extra clothing like socks and underwear from the Red Cross, but luggage would not have been needed or supplied. Almost all of the prisoners taken by the Nazis in 1943 were airmen who had been shot down and parachuted to safety and eventual capture. The airmen did not pack overnight bags for their missions. See more »
One chance. When the guard goes to the far end of the compund, you might be able to move your men out. I think I can make it to the woods, set up a signal when you're clear.
What about the goon towers?
That's a chance you're gonna have to take. But they're gonna be watching the compound, not the woods.
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Some TV versions edit the scene in which Ives is shot and killed for trying to escape over the fence. See more »
GREAT MOVIE: MORE HISTORICALLY ACCURATE THAN SOME REALIZE...
This is a great movie which much more historically accurate than it is often given credit for. So many who say otherwise are ill-informed and obviously don't know much about the actual history of that actual escape. The depiction of what happened to the recaptured prisoners in the movie of THE GREAT ESCAPE is reasonably accurate as detailed on the historyinfilm site...specifically on the "Reprisal" page; along with being detailed in the various published accounts.
Hitler ultimately calmed down after being reasoned with by Goering, Feldmarschall Keitel, Maj-Gen Graevenitz and Maj-Gen Westhoff, and dictated that more than half the prisoners be shot and cremated. So, as depicted in the film, several of those recaptured were not executed and were indeed returned to confinement. In fact, even those executed were not "shot on the spot" for the most part, but were actually executed later after being turned over to the Gestapo; most being shot while being allowed to relieve themselves, under the guise of "trying to escape".
Furthermore, there are many accounts as to how much more humane the environment was within the camp (which even had a popular and very successful theatre, featuring prisoners who would later be name performers) than many other POW camps...and certainly nothing like the harsh conditions associated with the Concentration or Extermination camps.
To quote one source:
"It must be made clear that the German Luftwaffe [the German Air Force], who were responsible for Air Force prisoners of war, maintained a degree of professional respect for fellow flyers, and the general attitude of the camp security officers and guards should not be confused with the SS or Gestapo. The Luftwaffe treated the POWs well, despite an erratic and inconsistent supply of food.
Prisoners were handled quite fairly within the Geneva Convention, and the Kommandant, Oberst (Colonel) Friedrich-Wilhelm von Lindeiner-Wildau, was a professional and honourable soldier who won the respect of the senior prisoners."
Finally, virtually all the major engineering aspects in regards to the tunnels and the initial escape in the film are as they were actually acheived in the real escape.
It would behoove some to learn a little more actual history or do a little simple research before shooting from the hip with supposed "knowledge" of reality. THE GREAT ESCAPE certainly takes liberties in tone and character portrayal, but not in the key elements that are disparaged out of sneering ignorance.
BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI is also a great film, but took even greater liberties with the technical details of the events described than THE GREAT ESCAPE did....and offering up VON RYAN'S EXPRESS as a more realistic alternative is simply delusional and ridiculous.
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