La Grand Illusion (Blu-ray) (1937)
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Editor's NoteCalling on his own experiences as an aviator in WWI as well as those of his comrades, Jean Renoir's antiwar masterpiece bids farewell to the class constrictions of European society and calls for the unity of humankind across class and national boundaries. Set in the German prison camps of WWI, the film stars Jean Gabin as Marechal, and Marcel Dalio as Rosenthal. Like the charming aristocrat de Boldieu (Pierre Fresnay), these two French aviators were shot down and now spend most of their time escaping from German prison camps before inevitably being recaptured. Between escapes, they do what they can to amuse themselves, which includes running a talent show, but after a tunnel they've dug is discovered, the three are sent to Wintersborn, a forbidding fortress of a prison, which is commanded by former ace pilot von Rauffenstein (Erich von Stroheim). The humane commandant practices noblesse oblige toward de Boldieu, hoping for an alliance across national lines. But he comes to learn that this phrase has a different meaning for the Frenchman. One of the great films of all time, GRAND ILLUSION perhaps most purely embodies director Jean Renoir's characterstic humanism, manifested less here in camera technique than an instinctive ability to educe truthful performances from his cast.
Cast & Crew
|Erich Von Stroheim|
|Charles Spaak - Screenwriter|
|Frank Rollmer - Producer|
|Albert Pinkovitch - Producer|
|Jean Renoir - Screenwriter|
|Jean Renoir - Director|
Plot SummaryJean Renoir's brilliant farewell to Europe's ancient regime, GRAND ILLUSION, set during WWI, stars Jean Gabin as Marechal and Marcel Dalio as Rosenthal, French prisoners of war who constantly escape from prison only to be recaptured. Along with the gracious aristocrat de Boldieu (Pierre Fresnay), they're moved to the fortresslike Wintersborn prison, from which no one has escaped. The commandant of the prison is the ace German pilot von Rauffenstein (Erich von Stroheim), now grounded by injury. Despite humane treatment, the Frenchmen plan to escape once again.