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Grand Illusion (Criterion Collection) (1937)

Cast: Jean Gabin, Pierre Fresnay, Erich Von Stroheim, more...
Director: Jean Renoir
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Studio: Criterion
Genre: Classics, Drama, Foreign, France, Classic Drama, Classic Drama, Criterion Collection
Running Time: 114 min.
Languages: French
Subtitles: English
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Synopsis
Frequently cited as both one of the greatest films about war and one of the greatest films ever made, Jean Renoir's La Grande Illusion is an often witty, sometimes poignant, frequently moving examination of the futility of war. During World War I, twoFrench airmen are shot down while taking surveillance photographs in German territory: Capt. de Boeldieu (Pierre Fresnay), a wealthy and aristocratic officer; Lt. Maréchal (Jean Gabin), a burly but intelligent working-class mechanic. The three are brought to a P.O.W. camp, where they encounter and befriend Rosenthal (Marcel Dalio), a prosperous Jewish banker, and the commander, Von Rauffenstein (Erich von Stroheim), takes an immediate liking to de Boeldieu.They are members of the same social class and believe that the political and intellectual ideals of the Europe they once knew will soon be a thing of the past with the rise to power of the proletariat. The three Frenchmen discover that their fellow prisoners have been digging an escape tunnel, and all of them agree to help -- Maréchal and Rosenthal with enthusiasm, de Boeldieu out of a sense of duty. As he puts it, when on a golf course, one plays golf, and while in a prison camp, one tries to escape -- it's the accepted thing to do. As Von Rauffenstein and de Boeldieu become friends, and the rank-and-file soldiers banter as much with the German guards as with each other, the characters seem involved less in a war than in some vast, petty game, albeit one with deadly consequences; they often talk about women and food, while never mentioning political ideology. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

You might also enjoy:
Paths of Glory
Stanley Kubrick's unforgettable anti-war film is also meditative and set in WWI

All Quiet on the Western Front
Still one of the most famous, powerful WWI films

The Southerner
One of the few other Renoir films currently available on DVD, and the only one set in America; masterful and underrated




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A List of Good Movies
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beretta
Golden Turtles!
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forget the Oscars! they get it wrong nearly every year. this is my list of best U.S. and best non-U.S. movies for every year back to 1930. (some years have no winners). my rules are a little different than the Academy's.
kingturtle

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