La Grande Illusion [Blu-ray]
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During the First World War, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German POW camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are sent to a seemingly impenetrable fortress which seems impossible to escape from.
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Top Customer Reviews
on January 10, 2000
Grand Illusion is sometimes considered as one of the greatest movies ever shot. It was Orson Welles' favorite. Even though many consider that "Rules of the Game" is more important and brillant. The two movies are very different, both incredible. Grand Illusion is easier to catch immediatly while Rules let you think endlessly. In regard of the DVD : BUY IT EYES CLOSED ! The picture is incredible, looks like it was shot yesterday because coming from the original re-found negative film. It has not even one small spot or crack. It is PURE. And it is the original 114 minutes version, not the well-known 105 minutes. The DVD is full of bonus, the best being the filmed introduction by Jean Renoir, and also the audio archive of Von Stroheim. I cannot express how much I love Renoir and this movie and I hope that Rules of the Game will come up in DVD soon in Zone 1 (it exists in France in Zone 2 with a beautiful master, but has no english subtitles). Then the world can contemplate this masterpiece again and again. Buy Grand Illusion and you'll never think of war and humanity the same way again.
on April 7, 2016
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
La Grande Illusion is an essay, written and drawn on celluloid film by the great French film director Jean Renoir, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Charles Spaak. To fully understand and appreciate this seminal work by the second son of that icon of French Impressionist art, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, one needs more than a nodding familiarity with the times in which the film was made, and the time in which the story was set, i.e. 1937 and 1916. Both were periods of great economic, cultural, social and political upheaval in Europe. The latter representing the midst of World War I, that some called “The Great War” or “The War to End All Wars”, and the former being just two years before the outbreak of a Second World War. While in the movie we see men in military uniforms representing several countries, the film contains only two scenes with brief, sporadic gunfire, and only one fatal, but deliberate pistol shot is made, but the context of the film that Renoir chooses is that of life in a German prisoner-of-war camp, the interactions of the prisoners, and their interaction with those German officers and enlisted men charged with guarding them. So, amidst a time in the 1930’s when a civil war raged in Spain, Benito Mussolini and Joseph Stalin were consolidating their political grip on Italy and the new Soviet Federation, respectively, and Adolph Hitler and National Socialism were on the rise in Germany, the world was still able to maintain some semblance of order by holding the “International Exposition dedicated to Art and Technology” in Paris in 1937, attracting some thirty-one million visitors to the “City of Lights”, and providing a showcase for the release of La Grande Illusion, a film about humanism, love, charity, and the universal brotherhood of mankind. The genius of Renoir, as storyteller, idealist, and humanist is the way he deals with serious subjects such as nationalistic pride, ethnicity, race, culture, social class distinctions, prejudice and bigotry by using good hearted humor, plus a little satire, and weaving into the story compassion, love, warmth, human understanding and, at times, a little pathos, to produce a cinematic masterpiece that have inspired future generations of directors and screenwriters in many different ways, and given such enjoyment to generations of movie goers the world over. The film is, in short, an appeal to our “Better Angels”. In its implicit message, Renoir makes much the same appeal as his contemporary and fellow countryman, the Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the idealist philosopher and paleontologist, in his book "The Phenomenon of Man". To understand some of the dialogue in the film, before viewing it, one might Google the following terms: “Fort Douaumont” and “Pindar”, things that mostly students of WWI and Greek poetry would recognize.
on December 22, 2015
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
My review is not for the movie itself, which is 5 STAR, but the so called "extras". I am glad I own the Criterion DVD, for it contains the introduction by the director himself, Jean Renoir! Why, oh WHY isn't that included on this Blu-ray release?? Also, the Blu-ray cover art can't touch the Criterion DVD cover art. As to the image itself, it looks pretty darn amazing. Some talk of grain and other damage they expect, saying the film looked "too perfect". I will attest from my own personal experience, viewing an original nitrate print of "Alexander's Ragtime Band" AND "Tin Pan Alley", with Alice Faye herself in the audience, grain was invisible. I consider myself very fortunate to have seen these films at the Stanford Theater in Palo Alto, in the late 1990's. I have yet to see any Blu-ray or other video capture that amazing film viewing experience!
on January 3, 2017
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
Finally, I get to see this film from Jean Renoir and was not disappointed. It certainly is a great World War I film that focuses on the plight of French prisoners of war and highlights class divisions that, ironically, unite the upper classes of the rival armies while treating the "common" men differently on some occasions. The story is not one of "exciting" scenes of escape. Its tension is mostly built through dialogues and vignettes of prison life and interaction between the prisoners. About the last half of the film is devoted to the escape of two prisoners and the relationship they form with a German woman who lives alone in a farm with her daughter. The film is effectively restored so that sound and images are great. It only has English subtitles and some short documentaries about the story of the film.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A must for students of film. As you watch it, ask yourself why Orson Welles and Woody Allen put this so high on their lists of great films. There's a reason
A story built on the need to persevere. You take one step at a time and one breath at a time. Keep your head up and move on. From dreams to freedom...
As the critic Walter Benjamin reminded us “No civilization without barbarism,” no enlightenment without a corresponding inhumanity. So it is in Grand Illusion.Read more
Nicely staged anti-war and proletarian fable set in rather plush German POW camps in WWI. All-star cast and legendary director.
The condition of this film is amazing. Everything else I own from the 30's pales comparably. It was luck,but we are very fortunate to have this masterpiece as it was meant to be...Read more
Incredibly great. Especially important to watch again as our country slips into deeper prejudice and hatred of the other.
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