Last night I saw the French film La Grande Illusion (Grand Illusion), directed by Jean Renoir. The film was produced in 1937, and 75 years later it has come to the big screen again, with an excellent restoration.
The film is in black and white, and is subtitled for the American audience.
Set during World War I, the themes of status and relationships runs throughout the anti-war story line of men trying to escape from their imprisonment. Both sides of war are depicted, with those who have been captured, and those who are captors, demonstrating friendship towards one another within a prison camp environment. Each side (Germans and the French, upper and working class) tries to make the best of their situation through humor, dignity and even empathy.
The film is a bit unusual in the aspect that it portrays male interactions and friendships that cross borders of cultural and social backgrounds. From those born into wealth and the elite, including a Jewish Lieutenant, and to men of the working class, the film is a metaphor for aristocracy and breeding versus the new breed of individuals.
I don’t want to go into the content of the film, as I feel that the film deserves to be viewed, and not read about.
I found La Grande Illusion (Grand Illusion) to be a satisfying and complex anti-war film (although some might find it simplistic), and recommend it to everyone.
June 24, 2012 – 4 Tamuz, 5772