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4,711 Ratings

Grand Illusion

La grande illusion

Directed by Jean Renoir
France, 1937


A group of French soldiers, including a patrician captain and a working-class lieutenant, grapple with their class differences as they are held in a WWI German prison camp. When transferred to a high-security fortress ruled by an aristocratic German officer, the men must concoct an escape plan.

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Grand Illusion Directed by Jean Renoir

Awards & Festivals

Venice Film Festival

1937 | Winner: Best Overall Artistic Contribution

Academy Awards

1939 | Nominee: Best Picture

Considering Jean Renoir’s Grand Illusion today in no small part involves an awareness of status and stature, the most prominent (or maybe just the most intimidating) aspect of which surely being the cherished status the film continues to enjoy in the canon of film history. To this day, it remains a singular achievement, not only as one of Renoir’s foundational masterpieces, but also as a film of its time whose contents have remained timeless.
July 27, 2017
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Timely on its first appearance in 1937, Renoir’s masterpiece is now accepted as timeless, although it has suffered a little dangerous neglect. As the continent stumbled towards a second world war, this story of prisoners of war finding friendship, solidarity and hope behind enemy lines voiced the mounting pacifist sentiment in France and offered a vision of European unity. Eighty years later, the message of La Grande Illusion is every bit as relevant.
June 08, 2017
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When the film was over, I was totally stunned. . . . That scene often brings tears to my eyes. In that little moment, you sense that Renoir dredges up tons of feelings: that the war was dragging on, that Gabin has been through a lot, that things weigh heavily on him. None of that is in the dialog. It’s all conveyed in the way the characters move, the choice of framing, and the silences. I find this scene miraculous. I felt I was seeing another type of cinema.
May 16, 2016

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