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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Great Escape (Blu-ray) 50th. Anniversary Edition
Finally released on Blu ray, I was hoping for something good in the transfer department, but felt a slight trepidation concerning some of the reviews already circulating on Amazon regarding the shortcomings of this important films transfer to 1080p. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the other reviews seem to be correct in their observations! The film titles start off looking...
Published on 6 Jun. 2013 by J. A. Bradford

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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dissappointed.
I pre-ordered and awaited with great expectation WOW was I disappointed agree with the poor transfer and as for Amazon's description of film being backed up by interesting extras WHAT extras none nothing nada where did they go is this the cheap release is there another better BD version out there?
To say it's a shame is an under-statement this is a classic movie and...
Published on 10 Jun. 2013 by Martyn Down


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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Great Escape (Blu-ray) 50th. Anniversary Edition, 6 Jun. 2013
By 
J. A. Bradford "JAB review" (Sussex England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Finally released on Blu ray, I was hoping for something good in the transfer department, but felt a slight trepidation concerning some of the reviews already circulating on Amazon regarding the shortcomings of this important films transfer to 1080p. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the other reviews seem to be correct in their observations! The film titles start off looking soft in appearance, but I accepted this because optical overlays are always involved with titles in older films,(the laying of one film element over another, then re-filming the two elements together) This is not true Blu ray. BUT after the titles finish, THEN you should be able to judge the true picture quality. But it was still soft!!! The film then proceeded, intermittently, to remain soft in its appearance, harsh grain was evident in some scenes but not others. Strangely, when Steve McQueen starts to pour his bootleg alcohol out for the whole camp to drink, the transfer quality suddenly becomes very good, but only for a short while, thereafter becoming very soft indeed, as other reviewers have pointed out. I thought this may have been a conscious choice of the D.P. or Director to add a soft-focus filter to the scene to suggest a mood of intoxication amongst the camp members, but the softness still continued! Steve McQueen's famous motorcycle chase sequence is especially noteworthy as being inconsistent in it's transfer quality! It's like no effort appears to have been made to use modern software tools to make this film shine! The Sound of Music Blu ray transfer is a good example of how a similarly shot film CAN look! Both films were made in a similar period, 1963 and 1965 respectively, both by 20th. Century Fox. Both shot in De Luxe Colour! But The Sound of Music is a true marvel to behold! Also, what happened to the extras? They appear in the top left-hand part of the TV screen ONLY! It doesn't matter how you might try to expand the image, the top left-hand part of the screen is where they remain! What's that all about?! In conclusion, my review is based on viewing the film on a 40" screen. It looks better on a smaller screen, but that's not the point! Great film! poor transfer! The Great Escape [Blu-ray] [1963]
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'SURELY ONE OF THE GREATEST WW2 MOVIES EVER SCREENED', 27 Dec. 2014
By 
rbmusicman/and/movie-fan' (U.K) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
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The true and enduring re-enactment of the greatest escape from a P.O.W camp during WW2.....
The Germans open the 'Stalag Luft 111' camp in 1943 putting 'all the bad eggs in the one basket' -so to speak.
The high security camp built to house the most persistent escapee's with little or no realistic chance of escaping,
however from the outset many of the new inmates are already assessing the best way to do so..
The senior Officer among the P.O.W's 'Ramsey' (James Donald) 'Cooler-King' 'Hilts' (Steve McQueen) one of the
early occupants of the 'Cooler' along with 'Ives' (Angus Lennie) after an attempt on the first day, 'Hilts' always with
baseball and gloves to hand.
When 'Big X' 'Roger Bartlett' (Richard Attenborough) arrives, he quickly realizes that many of his old team have
been placed at the camp, he immediately along with his Intelligence Officer 'Macdonald' (Gordon Jackson) begin
to plan a mass escape to cause the Germans maximum disruption..........his intention, to take 250 out of the camp
in one night.
He has to put together his team, 'The Forger' - 'Blythe' (Donald Pleasence) who despite rapidly loosing his sight
will keep at it, preparing the documentation necessary for all prospective escapee's.
'The Scrounger' 'Hendley' (James Garner) who's job it is to acquire equipment needed to assist the escape, 'The
Mole' 'Danny' (Charles Bronson) who along with 'Willie' (John Leyton also known for his early recording success)
and 'Eqipment-Manufacturer and Mole' 'Sedgwick' (James Coburn) are in charge of the tunnelling, 'Danny' had in
other P.O.W Camps already dug 17 tunnels in earlier camps.
Of course they had to disperse the soil dug out of the tunnels, this job fell to 'Ashley-Pitt' (David McCallum) many
talented participants including a Tailor to convert existing clothing for the out-of-camp wear.
'Roger' has to persuade 'Virgil Hilts' to join the team-effort and put aside his constant one-man escape efforts.
The German camp-commander is no fool, regular checks are made, though some attempts have failed and one of
the three tunnels found, the prisoners resolve continues in earnest.
Seventy-Six made the escape, an outstanding achievement, most were re-captured, some killed in the process of
escape, Fifty, were executed by machine-gun fire, the film showing just three actually making a successful escape,
the remainder returned to camp.
This is outstanding re-construction of the real event, well staged, the Blu-ray upgrade for the 1963 film is pretty good
overall.....many will like myself have seen the film when first released, many will have seen the film on TV, maybe
many times, myself, I purchased and watched the film on DVD when issued, however, though owning the Blu-ray
version since becoming available, this is the first time I've viewed it on the format.
Certainly a must-see if you've never previously watched it, or indeed like myself, worth a re-visit.
Features -
Audio Commentary by director John Sturges, cast and crew.
The Great Escape - Bringing fact to fiction
The Great Escape - Preparation for Freedom
The Great Escape - The flight to Freedom
The Great Escape - The standing ovation
The Great Escape - The Untold Story
The Great Escape - The Untold Story - Additional Interviews
The Real Virgil Hilts - A Man called Jones
Return To The Great Escape
Original Theatrical Trailer
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic movie finally gets the DVD treatment it merits., 10 Dec. 2014
By 
IP - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
The perfect gift for all movie enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

A stirring example of courage and the indomitable human spirit, for many John Sturges' The Great Escape is both the definitive World War II drama and the nonpareil prison escape movie.

Featuring an unequaled ensemble cast in a rivetingly authentic true-life scenario set to Elmer Bernstein's admirable music, this picture is both a template for subsequent action-adventure movies and one of the last glories of Golden Age Hollywood.

Reunited with the director who made him a star in The Magnificent Seven Steve McQueen gives a career-defining performance as the laconic Hilts, the baseball-loving, motorbike-riding "Cooler King". The rest of the all-male Anglo-American cast--Richard Attenborough, Donald Pleasance, James Garner, Charles Bronson, David McCallum, James Coburn and Gordon Jackson--make the most of their meaty roles (though you have to forgive Coburn his Australian accent).

Closely based on Paul Brickhill's book, the various escape attempts, scrounging, forging and ferreting activities are authentically realised thanks also to the presence on set of technical advisor Wally Flood, one of the original tunnel-digging POWs.

Sturges orchestrates the climactic mass break out with total conviction, giving us both high action and very poignant human drama. Without trivialising the grim reality, The Great Escape thrillingly celebrates the heroism of men who never gave up the fight.

On the DVD: The Great Escape special edition is indeed a special event. The anamorphic 2.35:1 picture is good if a tad grainy, and the remastered Dolby 5.1 soundtrack is a fitting vehicle for Elmer Bernstein's magnificent contribution. Accompanying the feature there's a reasonable cut-and-paste group commentary culled from interviews with various cast and crew, plus text trivia captions about the actors and the real-life camp.

The second disc features a first-rate Granada TV documentary from 2001, "The Untold Story", which tells of both the escape itself and the subsequent post-war search for the Gestapo officers who butchered 50 of the 76 escapees. This has an appendix of further valuable interviews with survivors, and there's also an American making-of documentary, "Heroes Underground", which is good though annoyingly divided into separate chapters and featuring non-anamorphic clips from the film. Perhaps best of all though is the 25-minute life of American POW David Jones, "The Real Virgil Hilts", whose career both during and after the war is extraordinary and inspirational. A classic movie finally gets the DVD treatment it merits
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite possibly the most perfect audience picture ever made, 27 Nov. 2007
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
The Great Escape may be nearly three hours long, but it moves like clockwork and holds its audience completely. There is always something happening, often with much wit and sometimes touching sentiment that avoids mawkishness. There is one remarkably bad piece of construction, following a genuinely moving death scene with McQueen's motorbike jump, but otherwise the film is perfectly constructed. Elmer Bernstein's score is one of his best, and with considerably more range and variety than you remember adds much to the proceedings.

If it seems a bit dubious making an entertainment out of one of the grimmest episodes of WW2 - 50 of the recaptured prisoners of the genuine mass escape from a German prisoner of war camp were murdered - the darker elements are not ignored, but despite being very effectively handled do tend to get swamped by the sheer exuberance of the film. It now seems particularly curious to that the impossible motorbike jump, while still a great moment, seems so much more underplayed and credible than the increasingly spectacular and cartoonish CGi action sequences of modern action films.

The cast are all outstanding. In Steve McQueen's `Cooler King' we can see the origins of Indiana Jones, the hero as eternal loser. Garner's wonderfully resourceful scrounger and his touching friendship with Donald Pleasance's near-blind forger make perhaps an even bigger impression. Bronson too is very appealing, with all the dry humour and warmth that two decades of working with Michael Winner has managed to knock out of him still intact. However, it must be said that Coburn's Aussie arc-scent is enough to make you grateful he hardly said anything in The Magnificent Seven.

The film is just brimming with familiar faces, from the stars to British war movie stalwart Gordon Jackson and the equally omnipresent Karl Otto Alberty ("Your German is very good. I hear also your French. Your hands - UP!"). Don't remember him? He fought in the 'Battle of the Bulge,' planned the 'Battle of Britain' and had a memorable showdown with Clint Eastwood as a tank commander in Kelly's Heroes. Only Sam Kydd is missing. With so much to enjoy and remember, The Great Escape is quite possibly the most perfect audience movie ever made.

The World Cup edition - tying in with the England team's adoption of the film's theme music in their failed 2002/2006 attempts to take the cup - is one of the more bizarre attempts to repackage the film to get you to buy it again . Aside from a couple of football promos, the features are identical to the other 2-disc releases: audio commentary by Steven J. Rubin (whose fine half hour documentary on the original single-disc release hasn't been carried over to this UK edition), James Garner, James Coburn, Donald Pleasance, Jud Taylor, David McCallum, Robert Relyea, Fernando Carrere, Hilly Elkins, Bud Ekins and John Sturges, documentaries A Man Called Jones - The Real Virgil Hilts, The Great Escape - Heroes Underground and 50-minute documentary The Great Escape - The Untold Story with additional interviews (unfortunately lacking a play all option so you have to restart each chapter), trivia track, stills galleries and theatrical trailer. The regular two-disc special edition includes all the extras with the exception of the dispensible World Cup ones while the original single disc issue has a poor transfer and a half hour documentary produced for the laserdisc release that has not been carried over to the other editions.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Purchase!, 26 Jun. 2011
The Great Escape - Special Edition is well worth every penny of the asking price. The Special Edition 2 disc set complete with an interesting 8 page booklet gives this timeless 'movie' classic another angle to the tale of POWs trying to escape from Stalag Luft 3. As good as the film is, the real gem for me, is with the inclusion of the second disc which features the brilliant documentry -'The Untold Story'. The untold story largely tells the story of the events that unfolded after POWs escaped from the camp and were now on the run trying to escape Germany itself. Interviews with actual escape POWs who were there at the time are included and needless to say, their version of the events differ somewhat to the movies rather 'colourful' interpretation of events! The movie itself undoubtfully had a touch of 'Hollywood' added to the mix, however for most of the part, the movie stays fairly acurate to what really happend (ableit on a smaller scale). Where the movie differs greatly from the real truth is after the breakout from the camp. Don't get me wrong, it's a great film, just not an entirely accurate one.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dissappointed., 10 Jun. 2013
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I pre-ordered and awaited with great expectation WOW was I disappointed agree with the poor transfer and as for Amazon's description of film being backed up by interesting extras WHAT extras none nothing nada where did they go is this the cheap release is there another better BD version out there?
To say it's a shame is an under-statement this is a classic movie and deserved better I have others Sound Of Music G.W.T.W CASABLANCA AND THE WIZARD OF OZ to name a few,picture quality is superb and extras numerous will keep as steelbook (the region free version even has a better inner picture)DISSAPPOINTED big time.No extras I ask you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the best film ever, 29 Feb. 2012
i must have watched this film 30 or 40 times, it used to be shown every christmas, and to me it remains as fresh as the first time i ever saw it. And even today I sit there hoping hilts (mcqueen) is going to get that bike over the wire. Mcqueen is of course the one we all remember as the cooler king, but james garner as the scrounger, and that moment when he and donald pleasance almost make it is so poignant, whilst the terrible fate of Big X (attenborough) and the other failed escapees really is heartbreaking. In recent years there has been a lot of focus on the real "great escape" - and i think it fair to say that this wonderful piece of film history is a fitting memorial to the fifty and all those other unsung heroes who paid the ultimate price for carrying out their duty.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just a different thought on the Escape..., 18 July 2012
You can't help but enjoy the Great Escape, Sturges' produced a genuine piece of art, there's no doubt it is a truly great film... but I wonder how it changes our perception of reality. Most of us know the film is "based on real events" but which of the events it shows are real & which are fiction? A lot of people I know have seen the Great Escape, but very few know much about the historical reality.

The Escape took place in nice weather in the film, it actually took place in one of the coldest winters Poland had for decades & the weather hampered escapees more than anything else. Many were wearing light clothes, many came close to frostbite & were forced to sleep in obvious shelters, increasing their risks of being captured. The Great Escape wasn't unique, there were some 11 mass breakouts before it but the increase in security after these attempts made mass breakouts less likely to succeed, in fact, a German in Stalag Luft III even advised PoWs to escape in twos or threes to improve their chances. The idea that the escape caused huge problems for the Germans wasn't true either. No German troops were withdrawn from the frontline, they only used existing capacity inside the Reich, what the Escape did do because of the large-scale hunt was result in thousands of other escaping PoWs, regular prisoners & absent foreign workers being rounded up in the trawl as well. But maybe the obvious myth of the film was American PoWs escaping, US airmen had been moved to a different compound several months before the Escape & none were involved. The motorbike scene in the film is glorious & iconic but also proved such a gross misrepresentation that it was actually booed by former PoWs when they were first shown the film.

The reason for casting an American as the central character in the Great Escape? To appeal to the audience the film was being aimed at; in order to sell the film. Orwell's 1984 showed Winston Smith altering historical records in order for the Party to control the people's perceptions of the past, Hollywood does that in a far more subtle & seemingly less sinister way; it's not always for a political agenda (although that isn't uncommon), it's mainly for commercial reasons, they alter history based on what they think will sell best to the audience they're aiming at. Either way, the reality of the past is changed for huge numbers of people.

Buy it, you'll love it... but keep in mind it's not really about the reality it implies that it is.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Deserves a Fair Chance, 4 Oct. 2013
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At long, long last, I have finally taken the plunge and purchased 'The Great Escape' on Blu Ray. Without further ado, here's what I think of it:

Picture: 7/10. To be fair, I am going to give the picture quality a 7. First of all, I just want to say that I can easily see the flaws that many people point out in this area. Some scenes are fuzzy and blurry. The most notable example, in my opinion, is the '4th of July/Moonshine' scene. The exterior shots are fuzzy and blurry, but the interior shots (where the German guards discover 'Tom') are excellent, in my opinion. Also, Steve McQueen's motorbike scenes are nowhere near as bad, fuzzy and blurry as people have said.
On a purely personal note, I bought this to replace my DVD copy (which was diabolical, with respect to picture and sound). I can safely tell you that this Blu Ray release did the job quite nicely for me. All things considered, the picture quality is fairly good, crisp and sharp for a 50 year old film. No, it is not the best Blu Ray I've ever seen, not by a long shot, but, for the time being, it is the best looking version of the film we have got, it seems.

Sound: 8/10. I would easily give the sound quality a solid 8. The dialogue was crystal clear and Elmer Bernstein's masterful score was excellent to hear in such clarity. If you want to hear 'The Great Escape' in the best possible form, then I urge you to get this.

Overall, 'The Great Escape' was not the best looking Blu Ray I've ever watched, not by a long shot. However, having said that, I did find it to be quite satisfactory as I bought it to replace my DVD copy and, quite honestly, it did the job and I am fairly happy with the purchase.

Last, but not least, the Special Features. Many reviewers claim that there are none on the disc. This is incorrect; there is a pop-up menu that you need to access to get to them. For the most part, they consist of documentaries and the original theatrical trailer. All things considered, they are very good indeed.

So, to finish up, 'The Great Escape' did the job for me on Blu Ray. I really feel that this deserves a fair chance. It may not be the best transfer on the market but, for the moment, it is the one we are going to have to make do with.

In the heel of the hunt, don't take my word for it. Buy it for yourself, be sure to give it a fair chance and enjoy it.

Thanks for reading this. I hope it helps.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing picture quality !, 8 Jun. 2013
By 
Rob H (Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
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If you've already got the DVD, I wouldn't bother with "upgrading" to this BluRay version. I've found the picture quality to be no different from the DVD. Definetly not a showcase for BluRay. Very disappointing.
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The Great Escape [VHS]
The Great Escape [VHS] by John Sturges (VHS Tape - 2000)
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