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Criterion Collection: A Man Escaped [Blu-ray] [1956] [US Import]

Francois Leterrier , Robert Bresson    Blu-ray
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Criterion Collection: A Man Escaped [Blu-ray] [1956] [US Import] + On The Waterfront [Blu-ray] [1954]
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Product details

  • Actors: Francois Leterrier
  • Directors: Robert Bresson
  • Format: Black & White, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: NR (Not Rated) (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: 26 Mar 2013
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00AQ6J3AG
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 130,412 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



"This story is true," reads the opening statement of A Man Escaped. "I give it as it is, without embellishment." Based on the memoir by Andre Devigny, a member of the French Resistance imprisoned and sentenced to death by the Gestapo during the German occupation, director Robert Bresson (himself at one time a German POW) transforms Devigny's daring escape into an ascetic film of documentary detail. Kept in a tiny stone cell with a high window and a thick wooden door, the prisoner (renamed Fontaine in the film) makes himself intimate with his world--every surface of his room, every sound reverberating through the hall and every detail of the prison's layout that he can absorb in brief sojourns from his cell. Bresson magnifies every detail with insistent close-ups and detailed examinations of every step of Fontaine's plan, from constructing and hiding ropes and hooks to painstakingly carving out an exit in the heavy cell door, and provides a sort of Greek chorus of fellow prisoners. This is Bresson's first film to feature a completely non-professional cast drilled to master precise movements and deliver lines without dramatic inflection. The effect is a drama where the slightest gesture carries the weight of a confession. Bresson's films are not for everybody, and this austere picture hardly carries the visceral punch of The Great Escape, but it's a drama of profound power, with a gripping climax that's as absorbing and tense as any high-energy action film. --Sean Axmaker,

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly compelling 14 Jan 2009
A film about one man, alone, thrown back on his own resources.

If you consider a film which focuses on a single character, mostly in a single location, with minimal dialogue, then you might expect a narrative of great emotional intensity, but you probably would not expect the tension and immediacy that this film also has. I came across it by chance, and stayed glued to the screen, spellbound.

This is not a "Colditz"-style story, with its emphasis on comradeship in adversity, and attempt to see both guards and prisoners as individuals, with human frailties.

The hero is held in solitary confinement - that is why there are so few other characters. The enemy are faceless oppressors; we do not see his interrogation, the torture is evident from the condition in which he is returned to his cell.

The absolute emptiness of his cell is mirrored in the sparse, bare style of the narrative. It has the courage to disregard all extraneous concerns and concentrate on its single theme - the amazing resourcefulness and courage of a single individual, under almost intolerable conditions.

Watching this film is an intense, compelling experience, but ultimately uplifting, as it demonstrates what a human being is capable of.
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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
I first saw "A Man Escaped" in my Introduction to Cinema Studies course during my first year at university. It immediately became one of the the greatest films I had ever seen. Over time, my feeling on it has evolved to the point that it is now one of my favorite films as well. The story is told in a sparse, visually narrow style that forces the viewer to use their imagination. The prison is never seen as a whole, we are only shown pieces of it--a wall, a doorway, and so on. The German prison guards are more often only heard as footsteps coming to the prisoner Fontaine's cell door. Rarely do we venture outside of Fontaine's cell once he is imprisioned, and when we do, it is usually to the same place, where he washes himself with the other prisoners. With the exception of the end, the plot of the movie revolves entirely around Fontaine's plan and execution of an escape. The magic of the film is that Bresson makes these minutae indescribably watchable; we are invested in Fontaine's every action through the whole of the film, and we watch with anticipation as he grows closer to his goal with each passing month, day, minute. "A Man Escaped" is a beautifully rendered work of cinema, and it will appeal to everyone who wishes to do more than while away the time seeing a simple 'movie'.

Having seen the paltry American disc which is overpriced and intermitently available, I greatly anticipated this release from Artificial Eye, and I am quite pleased. The film itself has never looked better, bright and clean with minimal dirt and clear sound. If that weren't enough, there is also a wonderful Dutch documentary (with English subtitles) called "The Road to Bresson" which is almost an hour long and features interviews with Andrei Tarkovsky, Louis Malle, and Paul Schrader amongst others.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Unique Artist 13 May 2008
By Mr. G. C. Stone VINE VOICE
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
If you have any serious interest in cinema then this is simply essential. Often imitated, universally admired, Bresson dismissed every accepted rule and convention and simply built his own. From the very first composing of the credits you know you are in the hands of a master. Bresson decides to give you what you need - and nothing more. No music (except the sparest use of glorious Mozart when he wants the film to rise to a different level of significance) - the only soundtrack being just the essential sounds to punctuate the action. No overhead tracking shots, no vistas - just a focus on only the action you need to see and follow - detail detail detail.. The simplest of dialogue, the most direct 'acting'. This is the antithesis of Hollywood bombast - it's like an antidote. And yet the simplicity carries more impact, it has more meaning, and ultimately is genuinely transendental in what it delivers. Faith. Absolute Belief. Determination against all odds. Trust in others and friendship and the best of human nature. It is ultimately religiously uplifting - without addressing this directly at all. Want to show an escape from a moving car? - we just need a speedo, hand flirting with a door handle, glimpse through the windows and a revving engine. Total focus that delivers total intensity. The simplicity of the ending is breathtaking and so so right. Astonishing.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Secular sublime 2 Aug 2009
By technoguy VINE VOICE
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
"The wind bloweth where it listeth." God will only save us if we give him a hand, thus says the Resistance fighter who has been condemned to death. He has luck on his side and the fates for the narrowest of margins. He has other prisoners aware he is about to make a break and they both urge him to go or to take caution. Un Condamne a mort s'est echappe, is the film as art form reduced to its purest elements, based as it is on the true story of Andre Devigny,who was imprisoned and sentenced to death by the Nazis during the 2nd World War.Imprisonned in a spare cell at the Lyons Fortress of Montluc he watches everything closely and plans meticulously, making pencil notes and obtaining spoons to act as chisels and clothing and mattress material to make ropes, and bending metal from his light surround into hooks. He taps on his cell wall to communicate with a neighbouring prisoner who thinks he hasn't a hope but gives his blessing. He also has found a contact in the prison yard to get letters out to his family.

Fontaine(Leterrier), impassive and inscrutable , has total command of the 3 by 2 metre space he inhabits, with the eyes of a vigilant bird and we get an image of his hands chipping, banging, bending,platting. Our vision is limited to what he can see-a small part of the prison yard, the outer corridor and downstairs in the yard when the men empty their pots and have a wash in the communal wash-house daily. We also only hear what he hears, the approaching foot-steps or the noises of men being taken from their cell to their execution in the yard.Bursts of machine-gun fire.Orsini, in the cell opposite escapes too early and is soon executed.The innate hope and humanity of the prisoners surfaces as they struggle for meaning beyond their captivity.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars like a laser beam
A Man Escaped is a very poised, focused statement from Bresson showing a Resistance fighter in France in 1943, who slowly acquires the means to escape from prison. Read more
Published 2 months ago by schumann_bg
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary Robert Bresson - perhaps the best entrance point into...
Robert Bresson is probably the most revered film director the world has ever seen and for me alongside Andrei Tarkovsky he is simply the best. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Film Buff
5.0 out of 5 stars More Exciting Than Batman To Me
"A Man Escaped," (1956). This is a classic of French cinema, a dramatic war story of just 100 minutes. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Stephanie De Pue
1.0 out of 5 stars This Never Arrived! Do not buy from this seller.
I would love to have been able to review this but the film never arrived.

I'm out £5 and will have to get it somewhere else.
Published 16 months ago by Dan
5.0 out of 5 stars Harsh, Hypnotic, Heartrending
This 1956 film by Robert Bresson is based on the real-life story of French resistance fighter André Devigny who was imprisoned in Lyon by the Nazis during WW2, and would... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Keith M
5.0 out of 5 stars BRILLIANT
Robert Bresson, was a master film maker... And this film,
is a masterpiece... It is so simple, yet, so complex... Read more
Published on 1 May 2012 by LONDON NINJA.
5.0 out of 5 stars Faith, Duty, Hope, Courage
No histrionics - even the small acts of violence seem slow-motion or caressed 'coshing'. It is largely an internal narrative of the protagonist and is still and quiet throughout... Read more
Published on 25 Mar 2012 by Mario
5.0 out of 5 stars :)
Read the other reviews. I will just say I have bought no less than 5 copies to give as presents and no one has had anything negative to say on any level.
Published on 21 Dec 2011 by 12345!
5.0 out of 5 stars Painstakingly detailed and tense
There have been many films down the years focusing on escaping from prison. Whether it be the wrongly imprisoned facing the injustice of the prison system (The Shawshank... Read more
Published on 3 May 2011 by TGillespie
4.0 out of 5 stars to view first time
when I saw this as a young student, it was completely fascinating and my breath was held in real time. seeing it again after all these years, it does lose its impact and pausity. Read more
Published on 6 Oct 2009 by championcat
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