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. There is also footage of the notoriously camera-shy director accepting his award for Best Director (for "L'Argent") at the 1983 Cannes film festival. Finally, there is also a delightful surprise at the end for Bresson fans which I will not ruin here.
Even though I am region locked to the US Region 1 (I have to watch this on my PC), I purchased this DVD instead because I was so excited to see it so well presented by AE. It's slighlty cheaper than our DVD on Amazon.com as well (even with the exchange rate), and has an excellent bonus feature. Well worth the price and bravo to Artificial Eye for doing such a fine job!