A masterpiece and the first Renoir film I've seen. He is clearly a master director and his humanistic vision is very touching. The acting is excellent, with Erich von Stroheim standing out in particular as the German officer who oversees the French prisoners. A great anti-war film. With no battle scenes.
'La Grande Illusion' really pissed off Hitler, and he made it a point to try to find and destroy all copies of the movie. Luckily for world cinema, the Russians had the negative during World War II. This movie is about a different type of war. A nobler war that has rules, and people who respect each other. There's also some controversial stuff about anti-Semitism that crops up at the end of the film.
I love when Mubi gives me the opportunity to catch up on an all-time classic that I've missed. Not only can I check this off my list, I can feel great while doing it, as Grand Illusion had a much stronger emotional connection than The Rules Of The Game did for me.
The film is subdued, clever, and smartly ahead of its time. Taking particular note of the turmoil still present still in Europe while still displaying the deep running relations, the film establishes that early then sets it aside for what it is truly intrigued by. The film moves into the human psyche during war time and here is when it begins to thrive. Looking at many stories at once it finds a way to stay genuine.
(4.5 stars) A grand film with wonderful characters, great story, good plotting, nice camerawork and completely enjoyable. A prisoner of war film but in a very refined "French" manner. Ha. Makes everything civil while the darkness of war hangs over it all. Fine performances all around. Renoir knows how to capture the spirit of human emotions and it's on good display here. There is simply a lot to love in this film.
A film I'm embarrassed to say I hadn't seen until now, but in a way I'm grateful. This is a mature film, with a tone and trajectory that completely undermines any expectation you may have had. Often, Dark Humor is directed towards characters; but here, it's pointed squarely at the ideal of War, and its characters are loved by the film itself in a strange, ethereal, magnetic fashion. Essential.
I don't get the historical importance, apparently. Really? - Orson Welles said that? The first 2/3rds is like Hogan's Heroes -- where are the real Hanoi Hiltons, or Guantanamo Bays, etc.? The last third, with the love affair between the French and the German - and the paternalism for the cute-little-Jew - sorry, I don't get it. Much prefer Renoir's "Afternoon in the Country".
"Frontiers were invented by men, not nature." Meaning: In the aftermath of war, two soldiers that didn't get along realize that we're all the same, across borders. Or... After escaping from a prison camp and crossing the border to their safe haven in Switzerland, two soldiers realize that the freedom they're after seems to be an illusion.
I’m not sure I understand the popular opinion that Renoir is one of the greatest directors who ever lived. “Grand Illusion” is a very good film, I could probably understand a solid argument for it even being a great one, but it is certainly not one of the greatest ever. It’s hard to find flaws, but also to find much that lifts it into glory. It’s “Casablanca” to me.
Un éternel et inestimable chef-d'oeuvre du cinéma français qui eut l'étonnant privilège d'être le seul film français classé parmi les douze meilleurs films du monde, liste établie à Bruxelles en 1958 par les plus hautes sommités du 7ème Art de l'époque. www.cinefiches.com