Reviews

La Grande Illusion: Special Edition

5

Unlike Jean Renoir’s other masterpiece (La Règle Du Jeu), this WWI classic was a success from release, becoming the first foreign-language flick to get the Best Picture nod from Oscar. Applause all round – except from the Nazis, Goebbels branding it “Cinematic Public Enemy No 1” when the film was seized during the Occupation. Ironic, since there’s sympathy for the Germans in this truth-based tale of French POWs who are shown civility by their Commandant captor (an excellent Erich von Stroheim) while they plot their great escape. Enveloped in Renoir’s trademark humanist haze, it’s an anti-war movie that focuses on camaraderie rather than conflict. It’s also about class, the dawn of a new Europe and the fragility of ideals. Add tension, tragedy and a touch of romance and you’ve got the complete package.

 

 

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