Grand Illusion (1938) France
Grand Illusion Image Cover
Additional Images
Director:Jean Renoir
Producer:Albert Pinkovitch, Frank Rollmer
Writer:Charles Spaak, Jean Renoir
Date Added:2006-04-29
Awards:Nominated for Oscar, Another 3 wins & 1 nomination
Picture Format:Academy Ratio
Aspect Ratio:1.33:1
Sound:Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
Features:Black & White
Jean Renoir  ...  (Director)
Charles Spaak, Jean Renoir  ...  (Writer)
Jean Gabin  ...  Le lieutenant Maréchal
Dita Parlo  ...  Elsa - Farm Woman
Pierre Fresnay  ...  Le captaine de Boeldieu
Erich von Stroheim  ...  Le captaine von Rauffenstein
Julien Carette  ...  Cartier - l'acteur
Georges Péclet  ...  Le serrurier
Werner Florian  ...  Le sergent Arthur
Jean Dasté  ...  L'instituteur
Sylvain Itkine  ...  Le lieutenant Demolder
Gaston Modot  ...  L'ingénieur
Marcel Dalio  ...  Le lieutenant Rosenthal
Summary: 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