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Criterion Coll: Grand Illusion [DVD] [1998] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Jean Gabin , Dita Parlo , Jean Renoir    DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Frequently Bought Together

Criterion Coll: Grand Illusion [DVD] [1998] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] + La Règle du jeu [1939] [DVD] + Les Enfants Du Paradis - The Restored Edition (2 discs, limited edition packaging) [DVD] [1945]
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Product details

  • Actors: Jean Gabin, Dita Parlo, Pierre Fresnay, Erich von Stroheim, Julien Carette
  • Directors: Jean Renoir
  • Writers: Jean Renoir, Charles Spaak
  • Producers: Albert Pinkovitch, Frank Rollmer
  • Format: Black & White, DVD-Video, Special Edition, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: 16 Nov 1999
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0780020707
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 143,748 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



It's long been one of the revered classics of international cinema, but there is no fine layer of dust over La Grande Illusion. Jean Renoir's film is just as vibrant, exciting and wise as it has ever been. The story is set during World War I, mostly in a couple of German POW camps, where two very different French prisoners plot to escape: the working-class officer Maréchal (Jean Gabin, the French Spencer Tracy) and the upper-class de Boieldieu (Pierre Fresnay). The suspenseful backbone of the story is formed by these escape attempts, but Renoir is primarily concerned with the way people treat each other, and especially with how class and nationality inform human relations. Most compelling of all the film's characters is the aristocratic German officer von Rauffenstein, unforgettably incarnated by stiff-backed Erich von Stroheim; although he runs a prison camp, von Rauffenstein cannot help but strike up a friendship with de Boieldieu, a kindred spirit from the doomed nobility. There is nothing dewy or naive about Renoir's vision (and two years after the release of this antiwar film, Europe was plunged into another world war), yet La Grande Illusion is one of those movies that makes you feel good about such long-outmoded ideas as sacrifice and brotherhood. After it won a prize at the Venice Film Festival in 1937, the Nazis declared the film "Cinematographic Enemy Number One". There can be no higher praise. --Robert Horton,

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good DVD from Optimum 3 Dec 2009
By MarkusG
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
"La Grande Illusion" is often considered one of the best movies ever made, and people like Woody Allen see it every day or something like that. It was directed in 1937 by Jean Renoir, son of painter Auguste Renoir. The setting is the 1st world war, and the protagonists are prisoners of war: three frenchmen, an aristocrat, an officer and a jew are captured by the germans. But this is no usual war film. First of all, there is no simple propagandistic message or depictions of good vs evil. On the contrary, enemy soldiers are behaving like gentlemen towards each other (often producing comic effects, as when a german guard tries to console one of the prisoners by giving him a harmonica, or the officer who begs the escapee he shot for forgiveness). And questions like why the war started and how it will end is put aside. Instead, more existential questions come to the fore. Like the futility of it all. And social questions like class relations and nationalities. It is interesting how nationalities are mixed, in the film german, french and english is spoken making it a film about Europe. Europe before the EU and before Hitler. But even so it has a timeless quality. This is an anti war-film, but not by depicting people being slaughtered or cities in ruins. Instead it feels like a celebration of life and friendship which makes the war going on seem all the more insane and a grand illusion indeed.

The DVD from Optimum is very good. The picture/transfer is excellent in every way, I watched it on a projector and it looked like new. And there are good extras: two early short movies by Renoir and two introductions, one by Renoir himself and one by film critic Jeanette Vincendeau. Both are well worth watching, Renoir gives an inspired speech to the audience and Vincendeau an analysis of the film.

Strongly recommended!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No More Wars. A Grand illusion! 3 July 2012
I will admit straight away that I look at this film through rose tinted spectacles. In my case age has done absolutely nothing to wither the beauty and power of this film. It was the very first foreign language film that I managed to sit through as a child. Not only did I sit through it, but I loved it. It was so human and accessible, it's messages still resounding down the many years since it was made back in 1937. Congratulations to Studio Canal who have restored it to it's original glory. I saw the 1958 version on TV some years ago, which was made up from prints recovered after the Second World War. The Nazi's despised the films anti war message, and the way in which the different classes, which included a jew, a coloured man and a member of the French aristocracy, worked together for a common cause. Anathema to Hitler!

The film is set in a German POW camp during the First World War. A mixed bag of French POW's work together to try and esacape back to France. The class difference between the men is such that the aristocratic French captain De Boeldieu has more in common with his German counterpart Captain Von Rauffenstein. The two sharing the same chivalrous code towards war. Class differences are put aside for same nationalistic common cause. The films director Jean Renoir explored similar themes two years later in " La Regle du Jeu". Much has been made of the fact Renoir's father was the painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and the extent to which he was influenced by him. Perhaps this has been a little overstated. In "La Grande Illusion" the cinematography does not really support that, although if you watch his later film "The River", you could certainly otherwise. It doesn't really matter a lot.
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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A French Masterpiece 26 Feb 2007
This is one of if not thee greatest french movie of all time the plot summary is During 1st WW, two French officers are captured. Captain De Boeldieu is an aristocrat while Lieutenant Marechal was a mechanic in civilian life. They meet other prisoners from various backgrounds, as Rosenthal, son of wealthy Jewish bankers. They are separated from Rosenthal before managing to escape. A few months later, they meet again in a fortress commanded by the aristocrat Van Rauffenstein. De Boeldieu strikes up a friendship with him but Marechal and Rosenthal still want to escape.

This has about 2 hour worth of special features including about an hours worth of silent films an introduction from jean Renoir aswell as an introuduction from french film critic Ginette Vincendeau.

What more could you ask this film has english subtitles and french audio.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest films ever made 30 Nov 2003
By Blake Paine VINE VOICE
Format:VHS Tape
This film may be 66 years old but it is still a remarkable work that never fails to move me.
The storyline is amply covered in the official Amazon review but along with Kubrick's 1957 "Paths of Glory" and the original 1930 "All Quiet on the Western Front", it is a film that everyone should see.
There are no battle scenes and very few special effects but none are necessary. If you've stumbled across this film by accident, you will not waste your money (and it's so cheap for what it is) if you tack it onto another order just out of curiosity.
The musical score is a masterpiece in its own right but beware that if you order that, it is only a recording from the film, not a separate performance.
There are very few films anywhere near as good as this one, and it would be hard to argue compellingly that any was better. Take the risk. I'm quite sure you won't regret it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good product, good price.
Published 5 days ago by Aaron Tucker
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A classic film
Published 21 days ago by Paul bradley
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous film made in 1938. Read the summary on ...
Marvellous film made in 1938. Read the summary on the packaging before watching the film which is then easier to follow.
Published 24 days ago by Mr. Morris W. Bernadt
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Awesome film, I really enjoyed it. Quick delivery and the item was in perfect condition.
Published 26 days ago by V. streymoy
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great movie, illustrates the folly of war in a psychological sense with no battlefield sequences at all.
Published 1 month ago by Mariner13
2.0 out of 5 stars this copy is part of boxset 5060034579281
the Jean Renoir Collection consists of seven films & is currently on offer at £20 to £25 - 2 star rating is for this reason & not film
Published 6 months ago by Markie4
5.0 out of 5 stars A bygone age
Not a film for book for those who don't appreciate chivalry and good manners. I could watch it at last one a week.
Published 6 months ago by Bel Esprit
2.0 out of 5 stars La Grande Illusion
Great print, super film...terrible sub titles...way to tiny, and they become invisable as they blend into the film, where white is in the background.
Published 13 months ago by Mr. J. Henshaw
5.0 out of 5 stars A true classic
Jean Renoir's masterpiece has finally been released on blu ray . The copy is excellent and the film itself with the great Jean Gabin still remains the classic of famous french... Read more
Published 14 months ago by raimund offner
4.0 out of 5 stars Brian
Chosen as it has appearede in a "best..." list of black and white movies. An interesting similarity (re prison camp escapes) to aspects of The Great Escape.
Published 16 months ago by Brian
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