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Grande Illusion, La (Grand Illusion) (1937)

Original Title : Grande illusion, La
Director : Jean Renoir
Writer : Jean Renoir
Charles Spaak
Genre : Drama
War
Country : France
Language : French
Producer : Albert Pinkovitch , Frank Rollmer
Music : Joseph Kosma
Photography : Christian Matras
Distributor : Barr Entertainment [us]
IMDB ID : 0028950
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poster for "Grande Illusion, La (Grand Illusion)" by Jean Renoir (1937)
Grande Illusion, La (Grand Illusion) (1937) - Jean Renoir
 

Starring

Jean Gabin Lieutenant Maréchal
Dita Parlo Elsa, the farm woman
Dita Parlo Elsa, the farm woman
 

Plot

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...
 

Comments

I don't get it! Why has this film been so praised, so admired, so loved?It's not a bad little yarn about World War 1 POW's - but its incredible and deep significance escapes me.In fact I found it a bit of a chore to sit through. The first part of the film is something like "Hogan's Heroes", with the French POW's having a high old time eating like kings and putting on impossibly elaborate stage shows in drag.And of course there's the ubiquitous escape tunnel!Then it becomes a lot of silly ramblings as a French and a German aristocrat mourn the loss of their class - the other major characters are a French workman and a French Jew.All very deep.And then it all descends into "The Great Escape". Yes, it's all about the stupidity of war - but it makes its point quickly and then rambles on for another hour and a half.I've always been immune to the charms of over-weight, middle-age French actors like Jean Gabin (and today Mr Depardieu), who we are supposed to find sexy - but Von Stroheim is splendid as the German officer.He carries a tragic weight, as opposed to a cholesterol-induced one, that is very powerful. Surprisingly ordinary.
 
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Grande Illusion, La (Grand Illusion) (1937) - Jean Renoir
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Grande Illusion, La (Grand Illusion) (1937) - Jean Renoir
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Grande Illusion, La (Grand Illusion) (1937) - Jean Renoir
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Grande Illusion, La (Grand Illusion) (1937) - Jean Renoir
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Grande Illusion, La (Grand Illusion) (1937) - Jean Renoir
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Grande Illusion, La (Grand Illusion) (1937) - Jean Renoir
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