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A Man Escaped (1957)

François Leterrier , Charles Le Clainche , Robert Bresson  |  NR |  DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)

Price: $36.23 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: François Leterrier, Charles Le Clainche, Maurice Beerblock, Roland Monod, Jacques Ertaud
  • Directors: Robert Bresson
  • Writers: Robert Bresson, André Devigny
  • Producers: Alain Poiré, Jean Thuillier
  • Format: Black & White, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: New Yorker Video
  • DVD Release Date: May 25, 2004
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001Y4LE6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #314,671 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "A Man Escaped" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

This story is true, reads the opening statement of "A Man Escaped". "I give it as it is, without embellishment." Based on the memoir by Andre Devigny, a member of the French Resistance imprisoned and sentenced to death by the Gestapo during the German occupation, Bresson (himself at one time a German POW) transforms Devigny's daring escape into an ascetic film of documentary detail. Kept in a tiny stone cell with a high window and a thick wooden door, the prisoner (renamed Fontaine in the film) makes himself intimate with his world--every surface of his room, every sound reverberating through the hall, and every detail of the prison's layout that he can absorb in brief sojourns from his cell. Bresson magnifies every detail with insistent close-ups and detailed examinations of every step of Fontaine's plan, from constructing and hiding ropes and hooks to painstakingly carving out an exit in the heavy cell door, and provides a sort of Greek chorus of fellow prisoners. This is Bresson's first film to feature a completely nonprofessional cast drilled to master precise movements and deliver lines without dramatic inflection. The effect is a drama where the slightest gesture carries the weight of a confession. Bresson's films are not for everybody, and this austere picture hardly carries the visceral punch of "The Great Escape", but it's a drama of profound power, with a gripping climax that's as absorbing and tense as any high-energy action film. "--Sean Axmaker"

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best film to get started with Bresson May 29, 2005
This is the first Bresson film I ever saw and it stunned me. Since then, I have seen most of his other films and each one is remarkable, though a few stand out: Diary of a Country Priest, Au Hazard Balthaaar, Pickpocket, L'Argent. Still, this film is unique in that it retains the austere, minimalist and ultimately spiritual style of the others, and at the same time is a gripping thriller.

You might say of this film -- though Bressonian purists might hate me for saying this -- that Bresson uses his anti-Hollywood style to outdo Hollywood style. What I mean is: Bresson is known for revealing only what is absolutely essential, a gesture, an item, two hands engaged in an activity, feet walking. This has the effect of encouraging the viewer to pay attention, but also, because it forces no specific interpretation upon these items, encouraging the viewer to participate in the unfolding of events, and become more than merely a spectator. Hollywood style tends also to eliminate much of what is inessential, but to a much different end: to eliminate moments where the viewer might be distracted and think about something other than the film; the aim is to replace thought with the action on the screen, rather than to stimulate thought. In the case of this film, however, where the subject matter is a prison breakout (standard Hollywood fare) the minimalist style employed by Bresson is able to achieve both a high degree of tension, and a high level of involvement. From the moment the prisoner is in the prison, nothing is shown except what is relevant to the single-minded focus of the prisoner: to escape. In that sense, it is not at the end that the man escapes (as already announced in the title of the film), but from the very beginning he is escaped in the sense that he never accepts the status of imprisonment. The film is able to show this without ever having him discuss the matter with anyone. Remarkable.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not only escape, but redemption January 12, 2001
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
One of the finest films I've ever seen, painted with a spare but rich brush this is truly a masterpiece. The subtitle of this film is "Where the wind listeth" taken from the biblical passage concerning a man being born again. This seems to get lost in some reviews of this gem, but I think it is its underlying theme, redemption and grace.
I've never seen a film that truly kept me so involved and on the edge of my chair. Bresson lets this story tell itself from the beginning as you watch the main character's hands and feel his hesitation and his desperation. A man so fully human and yet touched and guided by an amazing grace that takes him step by step and leaves him free in the truest sense of the word.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Man Escaped--so did the print December 28, 2005
By Sandy
This is one of cinema's great achievements, a testament of the combination of elements (subject, visual style, photographic image, movement, sound, background music, character, montage) are perfectly blended into a unique experience. The New Yorker print, however, is the worst copy of this film (16mm, 35mm, television screenings) I have ever seen. This was a copy with a lack of contrast, extra noise on the track, looking like a dub. If only there was a decent attempt to attain anything better would have begun to do the film justice. As it is, enjoy what you're stuck with but know there's something better out there.

Burt Shapiro
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars probably the best use of sound in any film March 2, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Robert Bressons unique way of using sound in this film, helps making it one of the most suspenseful films I've ever seen. I can recommend it to anyone who wants something more than "just another film".
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
What is the lesson from this film? Was it just the true story about how "a man escaped" from a Nazi prison? No, it is a film about human endurance in the face of great adversity.It shows how one man's determination can surmount seemingly impossible odds. Bresson depicts this in a minimalistic manner that uses small events to heighten the dramatic tension. As all of his movies, this one will linger, long after seeing it, in your memory.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars this is French? December 6, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
It seems strange to me that Robert Bresson referred to himself as a "Christian atheist", because God is very much present in this film. A
Man Escaped is based on the true story of André Devigny, a member of the French Resistance who managed to break out of prison just
hours before he was to be executed by the Germans. The movie begins with the prisoner, here called Fontaine, being driven to jail. The
men beside him are cuffed, but he is not. He tries to get away when the car stops but is recaptured and beaten about the head.
In prison, Fontaine nearly succumbs to despair, fearful that his fellow Resistance fighters will be rounded up too, but then a stranger
intervenes, a prisoner exercising in the courtyard who promises to get a note to them. Relieved of this concern, Fontaine once again sets
his mind to escape. While other men remain bound either physically or mentally, Fontaine develops a detailed plan of escape and
arduously sets about implementing it.
Bresson presents Fontaine's machinations in painstaking detail. He also confines most of the film to Fontaine's cell, so the viewer too
feels like a captive. Seemingly forgotten by the Germans, Fontaine delays his escape attempt. He believes that two people will be
required to make the attempt work, but is unable to convince anyone else to join him. He is himself afraid to take the leap of faith that it
requires, seemingly waiting for a sign that he should go ahead. The sign comes quite suddenly in the form of his death sentence, his
crimes not forgotten after all.
Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 15 days ago by Peicong Li
4.0 out of 5 stars Very simple and straightforward but engrossing - well worth watching...
Very simple and straightforward but engrossing - well worth watching. Not much replay value though - it's too plot-driven.
Published 18 days ago by 70's teen
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good movie. Buy it. Then do yourself a favour & buy Pickpocket, which is even better!
Published 22 days ago by Tim
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary Robert Bresson - perhaps the best entrance point into...
Robert Bresson is probably the most revered film director the world has ever seen and for me alongside Andrei Tarkovsky he is simply the best. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Film Buff
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Not well enough known film by Robert Bresson, transferred immaculately.
Published 1 month ago by mauvaisgenie
5.0 out of 5 stars Ford 55
Great Older Film That Really Looks Good In High Definition. Great Storyline And Filming That Makes This Film A Genuine Classic.
Published 1 month ago by John Ford
5.0 out of 5 stars Very under-rated film!!
Thank goodness for Criterion!! They release films little seen or heard of onto film lovers!! The french are great with heist & escape films!! And this one does not disappoint. Read more
Published 9 months ago by S. E. Hermo
2.0 out of 5 stars Art film?
My husband said he spent almost 3 hours watching a man dig a hole in a door with a spoon. I can understand how important the film is, in terms of cinema history , however, it... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Sanibel Thunder
5.0 out of 5 stars Tense and thrilling
Based on a true story of a French resistance captain imprisoned by the Nazis in WW2, the use of close-up shots and, indeed, black and white film, make the whole story feel tense... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Colin Millward
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Early Best Films of the 50's
This film is absolutely wonderful but when examined closer, it is merely a simple film and that is the main power. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Bartok Kinski
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