I will be seeing this film for the first time tonight, probably. I was wondering if anyone here has any thoughts about it.
GRAND ILLUSION is great. Enjoy.
It reminds me of these quotes from Steinbeck:
“Try to understand men. If you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and almost always leads to love.”
“No man really knows about other human beings. The best he can do is to suppose that they are like himself.”
— (The Winter of Our Discontent)
I second Vellaem’s post (and respect his taste in literature). I try not to prejudice or compromise anyone’s moviegoing experience by spouting off beforehand, so let’s just say I envy you your first time. You’ve made a very inspired choice for your New Year’s Eve viewing – but, seeing how Paths of Glory is featured in your profile, I think you must know that already!
“grand illusion” is a masterpiece. a beautiful film. i love it way more than “rules of the game”. in fact, i think “rules” is a bit overrated. i just dont see the beauty in it that makes others call it one of the greatest films ever made. i’ve seen it a couple of times, and its a tough watch each time.
It is a great film, but Jean Renoir’s style of filmmaking (based off of the only two of his films I’ve seen: this and Rules of the Game) doesn’t appeal to me that much. Something about it puts me off for some unexplainable reason, which is why I’ve never really been able to enjoy a Jean Renoir film as much as others have.
Beautiful film. Saw it a few times, more so on a big screen and I’ll always remember that landscape from that scene at the German woman’s house. For a different take though, I’ll quote one guy from my outfit, an avid cinephile who hated the film – “Fancy officers, cross-dressing, fine- dining surrender monkeys in a tea party”. We’re lowly, greasy enlisted men who live in the opposite side, so I could totally agree – it’ll be Stalag 17 or worse for us. Still a great film, and a very iconic poster too!
If you’re interested in more Renoir, see his version of The Lower Depths. Then, see Kurosawa’s. And off you go.
Tangentially, I saw RULES OF THE GAME last night for the first time. I was blown away, and immediately wanted to watch it again. I recommend that too, if GRAND ILLUSION is to your taste.
Here’s one from Orson Welles:
“If I could save but one film in the entire world, that film would be GRAND ILLUSION.”
Grand Illusion is a masterpiece, and, like Bobby, I find it much more enjoyable than Rules of the Game.
A line in this film put me in mind of another forum title on this site—the oft-asked question, “Is Cinema Dead?”.
I don’t think it’s dead, but I do believe a line uttered in Grand Illusion , (by the great Erich von Stroheim) sums it up best: “Nothing grows here, except ivy and nettles”.
You’d think with all the manuer floating around our culture today, the present era would be fertile enough to grow something like this. But sadly, no.
The commonality of human virtues, the transcendent gifts of camaraderie, the illusory confines of man-made boundries; G.I. has layers of meaning, Zach. Enjoy your first viewing, and rest assurred, all your subsequent hours spent with this film will be just as enriching.
A good companion peice to “Grand Illusion” is Renoirs early 60’s film: “The Elusive Corporal”. You may consider this film a sort of sequel set in the early days of WWII. It stars a young Jean Pierre Cassell (Vincent’s dad)
Out and out masterwork, from the greatest of all directors. A timeless classic, so can only be time well spent. You need to then get to La Bete Humaine and Lower Depths to round out your Renoir. (Rules of the Game goes without saying……..)
Great, but not as good as Rules of the Game in my opinion.
La Grande Illusion is great film. It is bound to convert any racist and patriot to a clear-headed, unbiased saint.
La Grande Illusion is a great film. It is bound to convert any racist and patriot to a clear-headed, unbiased saint.
As with just about everyone else, i love this movie and cry every single time Jean Gabin leaves in the end. however, i don’t think will it change any racists’ and patriots’ minds (though it would be great if any movie could do that!). renoir himself is quoted somewhere as remarking that he was so proud of himself for making this powerful anti-war film that got so much attention and how it might change people’s minds about the futility of war… then 2 years later, hitler invaded poland.
I hear Woody Allen really likes it.
Should be required viewing for anyone considering a military career. And if the programmers of the infamous “Battle of Algiers” Pentagon screening had been a bit more inspired, they would’ve made it a double-bill with “La Grande Illusion.”
Well, its main message is one of the most important, but still widely ignored. National boundaries create artificial divisions between people; i find it absurd that the media and public in so many countries keep up the same old nationalistic nonsense; being born in a different spot on the world map is not a reason for killing. Yet still this wrapping ourselves in flags and glorifying our “heroic” soldiers for representing our countries right or wrong (and how often is it right?) continues. Diversity is great, but hateful tribalism is not. The term “political correctness” should really be applied to unquestioning media coverage of patriotic militarism- no politician in Britain would dream of criticising (professional not conscripted) soldiers. We need our comforting myths. Of course Renoir himself fought and was wounded in WW1.
I haven’t seen the film for years. I really like the Gabin-Parlo relationship and what it entails. I think it makes for interesting comparison with the Nevers WW2 romance in Hiroshima mon Amour. For its extraordinary choreography and mix of genres, i prefer Rules of the Game, and i love the lyricism of A Day in the Country, but there’s no doubting Grand Illusion is a great international humanist classic. Postwar Renoir was far less political, but he was still looking to experiment.. i think his reputation now should be greater but his eclectic approach makes him less distinctive in auteur-obsessed times. His mastery often doesn’t draw attention to itself. He’s certainly still a prime contender for the title “greatest director”
Grand Illusion is ranked all-time #25 at They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? website, where they collect international polls, top 10 selections etc. (Rules of the Game is #3). Some directors who’ve picked the film in their top 10s for Sight and Sound:
it was the first “foreign” film nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. I’m not sure Renoir or the film are quite in fashion at the moment but it’s still very relevant. I think for many critics and directors, including in France, Rules of the Game is seen as a bit more exciting for its artistic rather than humanist values
A masterpiece, every frame of this film is a masterpiece.
I’d build a new Colosseum for Renoir.
TCM (Turner Classic Movies) showed Grand Illusion last evening and I was reminded why it is a masterpiece and why Renior should be (as Kenji stated) hailed as the greatest director. I agree with Dan; the way Renoir uses the camera is brilliant! Has anyone read Norman Angell’s Great Illusion? I’ve read that Renior chose the title of his movie based on this book. I plan to read it unless otherwise advised.
“National boundaries create artificial divisions between people”
Not only nationalism but also class—“for a commoner, dying in a war is a tragedy. But for you and me, it’s a good way out”
All that and Dita Parlo. What’s not to love.
It’s great, and one of the best things about it — apart from von Stroheim in that ungodly neck brace (he looks like a strange marionette) — is the fact that everyone speaks his own language. This isn’t Spielberg where the Germans talk in broken English among themselves. You have Englishmen speaking English, Russians speaking Russian, etc. It’s very real. The Marseillaise here beats Casablanca’s Marseillaise walking away backwards in high heels, too. But I don’t love it as much as some other Renoir movies, like La Bete Humaine and probably Rules of the Game. But to watch it is to see how many other films have borrowed from it — Down By Law, The Stationmaster’s Wife, etc.
my blog about Grand Illusion at Cinematic Idiot where I am blogging my way through the entire Criterion Collection http://cinematicidiot.blogspot.com/2009/09/grand-illusion-is-first-film-that-i.html
I’m with Bobby Wise and Jake: GRAND ILLUSION is far better than RULES OF THE GAME, especially in terms of its humanistic “message.” It’s a war movie with NO battles, and the final image sums up the title even better than the times that the phrase is used in dialogue within the movie.
And I agree with the folks above who say that it’s been borrowed by STALAG 17, DOWN BY LAW, THE STATIONMASTER’S WIFE, and even TV’s HOGAN’S HEROES!
For a Renoir comedy, consider BOUDU SAVED FROM DROWNING.