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A Man Escaped [VHS]

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Product details

  • Actors: François Leterrier, Charles Le Clainche, Maurice Beerblock, Roland Monod, Jacques Ertaud
  • Directors: Robert Bresson
  • Writers: Robert Bresson, André Devigny
  • Producers: Alain Poiré, Jean Thuillier
  • Language: French, German
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Artificial Eye
  • VHS Release Date: 1 Jun 2003
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004CN9Z
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 346,243 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

A member of the French Resistance (Francois Leterrier), imprisoned and condemned to death by the Nazis, plots his escape from his cell at Montluc with the help of his teenage cellmate. Andre Devigny, whose own experiences form the basis of the film, acted as technical adviser to the film's director, Robert Bresson, and all the cast were non-professional.

From Amazon.co.uk

"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, Amazon.com

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Alexa VINE VOICE on 14 Jan 2009
Format: DVD
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 By Sean Greenwood on 8 May 2008
Format: DVD
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 By Mr. G. C. Stone VINE VOICE on 13 May 2008
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 By technoguy VINE VOICE on 2 Aug 2009
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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