89 Days of Oscar Nominees – #70 – Grand Illusion (1937)


In my attempt to have a more prolific repertoire of Oscar Nominated Films, I have taken it upon myself to watch 89 new Best Picture Nominees that I’ve never seen before between 1 Dec 2016 and The 89th Annual Oscars on 26 Feb 2017.

Here is my 70th review of the 89 chosen Films…

grand-illusion“For me it’s simple. A golf course is for golf. A tennis court is for tennis. A prison camp is for escaping.” – Capt. de Boeldieu

Number of Times Seen – 1 (7 Feb 2017)

Brief Synopsis – Two French officer, captured by the Germans after their plane is shot down are sent to a variety of prisoner of war camps and vow to keep trying to escape.

My Take on it – With this film, I can now happily state that I have watched all 9 Foreign language films ever nominated for Best Picture.

As most of you probably already know, I am not a fan of Foreign language films, but 7 of the 9 were amazing IMHO and two were horrendously boring.

The film ranks among the best of the crop of those 9 films.

I have always been a HUGE fan of WWII POW films including The Great Escape (1963) , Stalag 17 (1953) and of course The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) and this film obviously affected all of those films in the feel and look not to mention themes, storyline and the obvious duty of the prisoners to constantly try and escape to freedom.

I was surprised at how well this film was made and it truly feels as if it was made before its time.

Loved the way that this film debates the issues of class vs nationality where it tries to show that in some circles of upper class Europe, they didn’t care about what country someone was from but rather whether they were part of the upper, middle or lower class of society.

The cast used here is superb and they all feel quite realistic.

Jean Renoir does an amazing job directing this film.

The themes discussed here by the prisoners and captors is sometimes chilling to watch since , as viewers, we know that Europe was about to once again erupt in war and many of the scenes and themes of the film would soon be revisited by another generation of soldiers who would have to endure this all over again.

The title of the film is really quite poignant!

This is truly one of the best films of the entire decade of the 1930’s and if it was in English, it might actually have had a chance at winning Best Picture in ’37 because it’s really THAT good a film.

Bottom Line – Excellent film that really seems like it was made well before its time. The way that the film deals with POW’s and the class system works really well because it tries to show that in some circles, nationality means less than class structure.  The cast is superb and Renoir did a great job writing and directing this film.  So easy to see how this film helped shape some of the best POW camp films that came years afterwards with it’s themes and storyline.  Highly Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Joseph Goebbels made sure that the film’s print was one of the first things seized by the Germans when they occupied France. He referred to Jean Renoir as “Cinematic Public Enemy Number 1”. For many years it was assumed that the film had been destroyed in an Allied air raid in 1942. However, a German film archivist named Frank Hansel, then a Nazi officer in Paris, had actually smuggled it back to Berlin. Then when the Russians entered Berlin in 1945, the film found its way to an archive in Moscow. When Renoir came to restore his film in the 1960s, he knew nothing of Hansel’s acquisition and was working from an old muddy print. Purely by coincidence at the same time, the Russian archive swapped some material with an archive in Toulouse. Included in that exchange was the original negative print. However, because so many prints of the film existed at the time, it would be another 30 years before anyone realised that the version in Toulouse was actually the original negative.(From IMDB)

Rating – Oscar Worthy


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8 thoughts on “89 Days of Oscar Nominees – #70 – Grand Illusion (1937)

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