France 114m, B&W
Director: Jean Renoir; Cast: Jean Gabin, Dita Parlo, Pierre Fresnay, Erich von Stroheim, Juliene Carette
On the surface, Grand Illusion might seem like any other prisoner of war movie, but unlike the others which have followed it, and which have borrowed from it, there is a complex underlying purpose which explores social issues of the time, including valor, duty, class struggle, inequality and racism. Renoir shows how the confines of a prisoner of war camp, and the camaraderie which this setting serves to foster, dissolves many of the cultural and class differences which exist among the men. As the title of the film suggests, once they leave the camp, either through a successful escape attempt, or at war’s end, all notions of equality are only to be lost – despite the suffering and costs of war (Klaus Ming January 2010).