7/10
One of greatest anti-war films with memorable acting from Stroheim, Gavin and Fresnay.
4 December 2009
During WWI two officers are imprisoned , lieutenant Marichal (Jean Gavin), and cultured captain named De Boeldueu (Pierre Fresnay). Later on, they meet other inmates as a rich Jew banker named Roshental(Marcel Dalio). Some time later, they meet again in a prison-castle commanded by aristocrat official Van Rauffenstein(Erich Von Stroheim in spinal collar).

This is an excellent classic anti-war and deals about friendship, comradeship, and human relations. A heart-breaker and elegiac movie in the way it shows war undercutting and qualities of prison life. Interesting performances enhance an eloquent screenplay by Charles Spaak . It's a moving reflexion on high and low class , about war and death. Time has not diminished its qualities nor its charming to the emotions. Exceptional Erich Von Stroheim , remarkable in a self-effecting performance and perfect Jean Gavin as good official and mechanic in civilian life ; furthermore the comic relief by Carette. Fine musical score by Joseph Kosma , including emotive ¨Marseillaise ¨during theatrical acting. The movie was deservedly nominated best foreign film and won special prize of festival of Venice.

The film is excellently screen-written and directed by Jean Renoir who approach the intensity and feel of his best works. Son of painter impressionist Auguste Renoir , was perhaps the best of French directors . At its initial French period he directed classics as ¨Boudu saved drowning, Rules of the game, Marseillaise, Day in the country¨ and of course ¨Grand Illusion¨ in which his optimism remains relentless . Renoir was in Hollywood for seven years, where he made ¨Swamp water, Southerner, Diary of chambermaid, This land is mine,and Woman on the beach¨. He returned France where directed other classic films as ¨Carrozza dóro, Testament Dr Cordelier, Picnic on the grass, Vanishing corporal¨ and several others. His films have influenced on Francois Truffaut, Luchino Visconti, Satyajit Ray , among them. Rating : above average, an extraordinary and sensational film.
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