movie film review | chris tookey

Grand Illusion / La Grande Illusion

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  Grand Illusion  / La Grande Illusion Review
Tookey's Rating
9 /10
Average Rating
9.82 /10
Pierre Fresnay , Erich Von Stroheim , Jean Gabin
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Directed by: Jean Renoir
Written by: Jean Renoir, Charles Spaak

Released: 1937
Origin: France
Length: 117


A French officer (Pierre Fresnay) sacrifices his life for two soldiers he doesn't greatly like (Jean Gabin, Marcel Dalio), who want to escape from a prisoner-of-war camp (run by Erich von Stroheim).

Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Highly intelligent anti-war film which points up the futility of nationalism and argues for men of peace to unite against warmongers. It was a timely, though as it turned out ineffectual, message. Not surprisingly, the film was banned by Goebbels in Germany; and when Vienna was invaded, the Nazis took it off in mid-reel. On a more philosophical level, the film also takes a beady-eyed view of the possibility of true "escape"; it's clear that the French soldiers will never escape their class background. Some may find the film too talky and cerebral, but it repays patience. Its humanity and technical excellence (Christian Matras's deep-focus photography is especially effective) make this a classic. Despite pressure from Hitler on Mussolini, it won a prize at Venice for the best artistic ensemble.
"The story is true. It was told to me by my friends in the war... notably by Pinsard who flew fighter planes. I was in the reconnaissance squadron. He saved my life many times when the German fighters became too persistent. He himself was shot down seven times. His escapes are the basis for the story."
(Jean Renoir)

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