thirty movies hath november – La grande illusion (1937)

English title: Grand Illusion

part two of a doubleheader. part one was yesterday, and today is Jean Renoir's La Grande Illusion: a war movie with no battle scenes, where friendships go across enemy sides, where the futility of war (any war) is noted, and the coming social changes in all of Europe are presaged.

La grande illusion poster 5La grande illusion poster 4La grande illusion poster 3La grande illusion poster 2La grande illusion poster 1

is going to sound awfully familiar if you've been following this series-of-movies-I-like, but whatevs. 'tis all true

For many years, the original nitrate film negative was thought to have been lost in an Allied air raid in 1942 that destroyed a leading laboratory outside Paris.  Prints of the film were rediscovered in 1958 and restored and re-released during the early 1960s. Then, it was revealed that the original negative had been shipped back to Berlin by Dr. Frank Hensel to be stored in the Reichsfilmarchiv vaults. In the Allied occupation of Berlin in 1945, the Reichsfilmarchiv by chance was in the Russian zone and consequently shipped along with many other films back to be the basis of the Soviet Gosfilmofond film archive in Moscow. The negative was returned to France in the 1960s, but sat unidentified in storage in Toulouse Cinémathèque for over 30 years, as no one suspected it had survived. It was rediscovered in the early 1990s as the Cinémathèque's nitrate collection was slowly being transferred to the French Film Archives at Bois d'Arcy. It was restored and released as the inaugural DVD of the Criterion Collection

from the always helpful wiki , full of details, linkage, synopsa, and I hope you already knew, *spoilers*. so be careful

I can talk about the movie, but rather do so after y'all watch it. I am unable to discuss a plot without giving the movie away; the secret of being a good writer-about-films.  but I will mention some movies you may have watched that are very influenced by  La Grande Illusion:

– The Great Escape
– Casablanca
– Stalag Seven

clipparinos:

this first one is Renoir himself introducing the Criterion Collection DVD.

Renoir is adorable, self-effacing, and I want to hug him.  he also reminds me of someone…

in this scene, POWs of several nationalities come together during a talent show in a German camp

 

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2 thoughts on “thirty movies hath november – La grande illusion (1937)

  1. How weird and marvelous the original negatives for La Grande Illusion managed to survive all those years. I wish other films had better luck. Rules of the Game, Renoir's other great film and now considered one of the top cinematic masterpieces made in France, barely survived a commercial re-editing and a ban in wartime France before two cinema buffs reconstructed the film to its almost-original state. The negatives for Rules really had been destroyed in a air raid however, so the restoration was based on memory. Which you can only hope was accurate.

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