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La Grande Illusion 75th Anniversary (Studio Canal Collection) [1937] [Blu-ray]

Pierre Fresnay , Erich von Stroheim , Jean Renoir    Universal, suitable for all   Blu-ray
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
Price: £13.11 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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La Grande Illusion 75th Anniversary (Studio Canal Collection)  [1937] [Blu-ray] + Le Quai Des Brumes (StudioCanal Collection) *Digitally Restored  [1938] [Blu-ray]
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Product details

  • Actors: Pierre Fresnay, Erich von Stroheim, Jean Gabin, Marcel Dalio, Julien Carette
  • Directors: Jean Renoir
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region B/2 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Studiocanal
  • DVD Release Date: 23 April 2012
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B007BL63CK
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,508 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,

Product Description

Jean Renoir's classic prison escape movie, often seen as a humane and pacifist indictment of war, offers an ambiguous perspective on class differences. In a WWI German prisoner-of-war camp, three French soldiers, working-class Lieutenant Marechal (Jean Gabin), middle-class Jew Rosenthal (Marcel Dalio) and aristocratic senior officer Captain de Boieldieu (Pierre Fresnay), are held prisoner by Commandant Von Rauffenstein (Erich von Stroheim). The film shows how a bond of sympathy exists more between the German Commandant and the senior French officer than between the three Frenchman of different classes. Even though de Boieldieu sacrifices himself for the two others to escape, the film makes no attempt to conceal what they are returning to once their role as war heroes is over.

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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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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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
NB: As is their wont, Amazon have unhelpfully lumped together the reviews of various editions and formats of this title. This review refers to StudioCanal's DVD and Blu-ray releases, which conain different extras.

La Grande Illusion is one of those films whose reputation as one of the pinnacles of cinematic achievement has always seemed unfathomable to me. If anything, its reputation does the film a great disservice. It IS a good film - a very good film, in fact - but it's not the great one it may have seemed before so many P.O.W. films burrowed through similar ground after the war, and it seems to have less to say with each passing year, gradually turning into yet another prisoner of war movie moving from boarding school hijinks to slightly superficial comments on the class system. There are a few excellent scenes in the last third, not least once Von Stroheim re-enters the film, but it feels at times as if there's more French studio system craft than substance. Certainly as an anti-war film it's surprisingly ineffective compared to Pabst or Milestone's earlier efforts.

Studio Canal's 75th Anniversary edition DVD is an improvement over the previous Warners/Canal + release, this has a restored sequence missing from the earlier release and an introduction by film historian Ginette Vincendreau. Also included are two of Renoir's silent short films:

Made with film stock left over from the production of Nana, 1927's Sur un Air de Charleston is described as a holiday film for all concerned, and that's the best way to view it. Jean Renoir seems never to have thought enough of it to even edit the footage together.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 4 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 4 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 12 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 12 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 15 months ago by Brian
5.0 out of 5 stars Proved wrong
My son chose it for his studies at university. Didn't think i would like it. Boy was i wrong, a tremendous movie. Would very much recommend it.
Published 15 months ago by jojo
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the Greatest Anti-War Film, ever,...quite
The accolade for the greatest anti-war film ever made, must still go to Lewis Milestone's 1930 'All Quiet On the Western Front', though being an American film, feels very European. Read more
Published on 6 Aug 2012 by Tim Kidner
5.0 out of 5 stars No More Wars. A Grand illusion!
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. Read more
Published on 3 July 2012 by Bob Salter
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring, and not a very good edition
Because there aren't many available American and British classics which I don't own yet, I decided to 'discover' the French classic movies. Read more
Published on 16 Jun 2012 by M. Bijlsma
5.0 out of 5 stars A Humane Work Of Art
Jean Renoir's 1937 masterpiece La Grande Illusion is, for me, along with Stanley Kubrick's Paths Of Glory, one of the greatest 'war films' ever made. Read more
Published on 27 Jan 2012 by Keith M
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