One of the very first prison escape movies, Grand Illusion is hailed as one of the greatest films ever made. Jean Renoir's antiwar masterpiece stars Jean Gabin and Pierre Fresnay, as French soldiers held in a World War I German prison camp, and Erich von Stroheim as the unforgettable Captain von Rauffenstein. Following a smash theatrical re-release, Criterion is proud to present Grand Illusion in a new special edition, with a beautifully restored digital transfer.
It's long been one of the revered classics of international cinema, but there is no fine layer of dust over La Grande Illusion. Jean Renoir's film is just as vibrant, exciting, and wise as it has ever been. The story is set during World War I, mostly in a couple of German POW camps, where two very different French prisoners plot to escape: the working-class officer Maréchal (Jean Gabin, the French Spencer Tracy) and the upper-class de Boieldieu (Pierre Fresnay). The suspenseful backbone of the story is formed by these escape attempts, but Renoir is primarily concerned with the way people treat each other, and especially with how class and nationality inform human relations. Most compelling of all the film's characters is the aristocratic German officer von Rauffenstein, unforgettably incarnated by stiff-backed Erich von Stroheim; although he runs a prison camp, von Rauffenstein cannot help but strike up a friendship with de Boieldieu, a kindred spirit from the doomed nobility. There is nothing dewy or naive about Renoir's vision (and two years after the release of this antiwar film, Europe was plunged into another world war), yet Grand Illusion is one of those movies that makes you feel good about such long-outmoded ideas as sacrifice and brotherhood. After it won a prize at the Venice Film Festival in 1937, the Nazis declared the film "Cinematographic Enemy Number One." There can be no higher praise. --Robert Horton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This hard-to-get historical film by Jean Gablin is a treasure for history buffs. Very well done and highly recommended for those interested in the First World War relationships... Read morePublished 19 months ago by M. Mills
grand illusion is so well known that is almost not worthy to comment on it other than it is the best war/antiwar film of all time bar none, and is also very funny. Read morePublished on June 21 2004 by Ashley Allinson
Wonderful movie, amazing print quality, and one of the best commentary tracks (Peter Cowie) that I have heard.Published on Feb. 4 2004 by C. Rubin
Amazing restoration, unfortunately, the film does not hold up well over time. The comments from the director about how WW1 was a "gentleman's War" only corroborate his... Read morePublished on Jan. 12 2004
There is no way to explain this films greatness in words, just buy it watch it, and tell people about it. Read morePublished on Jan. 9 2004 by Emmett Miller
Man, this movie didn't really move me at all. Although I heard this was highly praised, I found this film to be a chore, took me 23 days to get over with this film. Read morePublished on June 19 2003 by Mr. Math Expert
This film was made about 65 years ago, so those looking for explosions, bullets, and butchery had better go with something more recent. Read morePublished on Dec 19 2002 by T. SIMPSON