Monday, June 1, 2009

Movie You Should See: Le Grande Illusion

Le Grande Illusion has apparently been called "The Greatest Movie of all Time", while I can see where that comes from, I don't completely agree. It is a great movie and the director, Jean Renoir (who has an awesome name) made quite an interesting movie using depth of field, an interesting storyline and location shots.

During World War I two pilots are shot down over German enemy territory and are taken to meet a German officer, von Rauffenstein, who welcomes them to lunch where they talk and are quite friendly. They are then taken to a POW camp where they live less like what you'd assume a POW camp to be like and more like they are just at a camp they can't leave. While they plot an escape via a tunnel they also put together a musical show. During the show they learn that Douamont has been taken back by the French, which earns one man, Marechal, a trip to solitary confinement.

After several more escape attempts they are moved to a POW camp that is notoriously impossible to escape from and meet back up with von Rauffenstein. By this time von Rauffenstein has seen a lot of battle and is quite a mess. He remembers the two men from before and becomes close with de Boeldieu, a fellow aristocrat that comes from a well-known family, and they strike up a friendship of sorts.

Unlike most "war movies", this movie is more about the characters and what it means to be human during war and about how class lines disappear during a war. It also features dialogue in three languages: English, at times, French and German. It's quite an interesting way to present other people and cultures.

I highly recommend this movie and this is why: If it was in color and released today, you would never know that it was made in 1937. It's made that well and it is highly enjoyable.


  1. Grande Illusion is awesome. You can really see how it has influenced most 'escape' films since it came out.

  2. That is true. It's a great movie. I wish I had heard of it earlier.

  3. This is my favorite Renoir movie.