111 min / Spoken Language: French / NR
For its 75th Anniversary, Rialto Pictures presents a stunning 4K restoration of GRAND ILLUSION, Jean Renoir's powerful and eloquent anti-war film set during World War I. Frequently cited as both one of the greatest films about war and one of the greatest films ever made, Grand Illusion is an often witty, sometimes poignant, frequently moving examination of the futility of war.
During World War I, two French airmen are shot down while taking surveillance photographs in German territory: Capt. de Boeldieu (Pierre Fresnay), a wealthy and aristocratic officer; Lt. Maréchal (Jean Gabin), a burly but intelligent working-class mechanic. The three are brought to a P.O.W. camp, where they encounter and befriend Rosenthal (Marcel Dalio), a prosperous Jewish banker, and the commander, Von Rauffenstein (Erich von Stroheim), takes an immediate liking to de Boeldieu. They are members of the same social class and believe that the political and intellectual ideals of the Europe they once knew will soon be a thing of the past with the rise to power of the proletariat. The three Frenchmen discover that their fellow prisoners have been digging an escape tunnel, and all of them agree to help -- Maréchal and Rosenthal with enthusiasm, de Boeldieu out of a sense of duty. As he puts it, when on a golf course, one plays golf, and while in a prison camp, one tries to escape -- it's the accepted thing to do. As Von Rauffenstein and de Boeldieu become friends, and the rank-and-file soldiers banter as much with the German guards as with each other, the characters seem involved less in a war than in some vast, petty game, albeit one with deadly consequences; they often talk about women and food, while never mentioning political ideology. GRAND ILLUSION was the first foreign film to receive a Best Picture Oscar nomination.
"A model of simplicity and grace, with emotional effects that move you when you least expect it, the kind of great film that only a master can pull off." L.A. Times
"An artistically masterful feature, the picture breathes the intimate life of warriors on both sides during the [First] World War." Variety
Academy Award Best Picture Nominee
1938 National Board of Review Best Foreign Film
1938 New York Film Critics Circle Best Foreign Film