La Grande Illusion

Watch La Grande Illusion

"A Great Drama of Human Emotions"
  • NR
  • 1937
  • 1 hr 54 min
  • 8.1  (38,761)

La Grande Illusion is a classic French film from 1937 that captures the essence of WWI just after its first year. Written and directed by Jean Renoir, the film features Jean Gabin, Dita Parlo and Pierre Fresnay in the lead roles. The movie depicts the camaraderie between prisoners of war, who come from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, who are detained in a German POW camp during WWI.

The story begins with French Liutenant Maréchal (Jean Gabin) and Captain de Boeldieu (Pierre Fresnay) landing in a German POW camp. Maréchal, who's a working-class man, has no respect for authority and is initially hostile towards his aristocratic fellow inmate. After several confrontations, however, they come to respect each other and realize that the war has taken its toll on everyone, irrespective of their social background.

Their initial hostility is a reflection of the intense nationalism and class antagonism of the times, which led to the senseless slaughter of millions of soldiers. The film depicts how the social hierarchy of the pre-war European aristocracy led to the glorification of war, which ultimately led to the destruction of the old regime.

As the film progresses, the prisoners plan their escape. They are moved from one camp to another, and their plans are complicated by a variety of circumstances, including changing commandants and transfer procedures. The escape attempts are not entirely successful, and the prisoners' relationships with the Germans guarding them are complex and evocative.

The film is noted for its famous line spoken by one of the German characters, ""La guerre? C'est une grande illusion!" (War? It's just a grand illusion!" This statement encapsulates the film's pacifist message, which is that the war is engineered by the elites and the ruling class and no one will benefit from it. It calls for peace by highlighting the human cost of war and the need for solidarity and friendship.

The film is evocatively shot, with stunning scenery and artful cinematography. The sound design is subtle and invites the viewer to pay attention to the intricacies of the human dramas unfolding on screen. The cast members are also notable, delivering memorable performances that add depth and subtlety to the movie.

Ultimately, La Grande Illusion is a timeless masterpiece that highlights the futility and destructiveness of war. It is a testament to the human capacity for empathy, even amid the devastation of such a conflict. The film remains one of the most important examples of pacifist cinema and continues to inspire and move viewers to this day.

La Grande Illusion is a 1937 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 54 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 8.1.

La Grande Illusion
Where to Watch La Grande Illusion
La Grande Illusion is available to watch free on Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download on demand at . Some platforms allow you to rent La Grande Illusion for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 54 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    8.1  (38,761)