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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly compelling
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...
Published on 14 Jan 2009 by Alexa

versus
0 of 8 people found the following review helpful
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 14 months ago by Dan


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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly compelling, 14 Jan 2009
By 
Alexa (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Man Escaped [DVD] (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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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great film for all who love the art of cinema, 8 May 2008
By 
Sean Greenwood "Cinephile" (United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Man Escaped [DVD] (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. 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!
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Unique Artist, 13 May 2008
By 
Mr. G. C. Stone "mgcs" (Newcastle, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Man Escaped [DVD] (DVD)
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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Secular sublime, 2 Aug 2009
By 
technoguy "jack" (Rugby) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Man Escaped [DVD] (DVD)
"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. This is a thrilling tale of courage and faith transcending physical limits through iron purpose and sensitivity soft as a feather and a final liberation with a moving denouement to the accompaninment of Mozart's sublime Mass in C Minor.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Transcendental, 17 Feb 2009
By 
Room For A View - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Man Escaped [DVD] (DVD)
Paul Schrader's description of Bresson's films as, put simply, a transcendental experience is clearly displayed in a Man Escaped. For me the monotone narration, austere environment and Mozart's music enhances the mood of a film about a captured French resistance fighter who is facing death at any moment but, incredibly, with enough physical and mental endurance to seek freedom. Bresson offers the viewer meticulous detail as our hero, for instance, scratches away at the door of his cell or weaves together sheets and clothing for rope. The tension created by the footsteps of guards, the ambiguous intentions of other prisoners or the ever present threat of the firing squad is very real and I find it remarkable that this linear, relatively "undramatic" film can conjure up such intense feelings. Awesome.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars like a laser beam, 24 July 2014
By 
schumann_bg - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Man Escaped [DVD] (DVD)
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. It is a marvellous testament to the human spirit, yet the images are among his most spare. There is not even the presence of nature you find in some of his other works, or the variety of locations. The close-ups are mainly of prison surfaces - walls, the wooden cell door he slowly dismantles using a tablespoon, bars, light and shadow, and faces. This last element becomes all the more expressive for being set against the blank, inhuman quality of these other components. The lead, Francois Leterrier, has a beautiful face that is nevertheless lacking in anything like star quality. He has a haunted, essentially gentle look, but also with a determination, a combative aspect the character needs. The young man he escapes with, who actually enables it to happen, has a rather dubious record as a collaborator, so the film works as a study of trust, or faith at all levels (there are two priests also), while being morally unfathomable. It creates considerable tension, but as always, the biggest tension is between the spiritual concerns of the director and the resolutely concrete attention to physical objects and their properties. The boy, Jost, is like something out of Genet, and the communication by banging on cell walls, as well as the escape by two characters, seem like parallels to Genet's only film, Un chant d'amour, made six years earlier in 1950. Yet these two artists could hardly be further apart ... The rooftop scene also recalls Vigo's Zéro de Conduite. It is amazing the way such simple images can create such widely differing resonances, showing that great artists create an aura around the physical world that reforges its meaning for us.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous but muted, 20 Feb 2009
This review is from: A Man Escaped [DVD] (DVD)
This 1956 film demonstrates that a small budget doesn't mean a bad film. It clearly deserved to win the twin awards: "Best Director, Cannes Film Festival," and "Best Film of the Year" from the French Film Academy.

The film describes what it was like to be a political prisoner of the Germans in Paris during WWII. In their efforts to keep down resistance, both the guilty and innocent were arrested, convicted and executed. This is the story of one of those prisoners and his meticulous efforts to find a way to escape, supported and encouraged by his fellow prisoners.

My only complaint is that the horrors of this time were muted by the director. Beatings and executions take place off camera and Germans appear only fleetingly. Perhaps that was because in 1956 the terrors of the Nazi occupation was too recent to dwell on.

Michael W. Perry, editor of Dachau Liberated : The Official Report
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Painstakingly detailed and tense, 3 May 2011
This review is from: A Man Escaped [DVD] (DVD)
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 Redemption), scouting a group of misfit characters $'to forge a masterplan to be carried out on a grand scale (The Great Escape), or the simply plain ridiculous (Escape To Victory), director's have seemingly always had a fascination with escape. Perhaps it's a mixture of the desperation and excitement of breaking free and rebelling against a suppressive system. Of all the prison movies I've seen, none have been as focused, thrilling, or as involving as Robert Bresson's A Man Escaped.

It follows French resistance fighter Fontaine (Francois Letterier) as he is being exported to Nazi prison Fort Montluc during WWII. He instantly seizes a chance to escape on his way but is quickly re-captured and thrown back in the car. We see from the off that Fontaine is an opportunist, and will do everything in his power to battle against his situation. Upon arriving at Montluc, Fontaine quickly begins to devise his plan of escape by obtaining a safety pin which he uses to unlock his handcuffs, but upon being moved to a higher cell his handcuffs are removed anyway. He steals a spoon from the cafeteria, which he uses to slowly chip away a his cell door, filing and scratching the sides of the panels until it can be completely removed, leaving him able to roam the halls at night and plan his escape further.

His plan is thrown into disarray with the arrival of young soldier Francois (Charles Le Clainche) who bears the uniforms of both the French and German army. Fontaine must decide whether to trust this possibly spy and take him on his escape, or to kill him. Upon Francois' arrival, Fontaine also learns that his activities working for the French resistance have earned him the death sentence, so must quickly escape or face his fate. The film is based on the memoirs of Andre Devigny and his experiences imprisoned by the Nazis.

Bresson's genius shines through in this film with his ability to conjure nail-biting tension in the tiniest of things. Fontaine spends most of his time squatted in front of his cell door, filing down the door panels with his blunt spoon, and it's these scenes where you feel the excitement of Fontaine's slow progression, and the elation of the eventual success. The focus stays on Fontaine, as he conspires with his fellow inmates and slowly executes his plan. We see little of the Nazis and how they treat the inmates, and we don't need to, we know they were quite the bastards and weren't very nice. The fear of being at their will is written on Fontaine's face, and it's much more powerful for that.

This is a prison escape movie carried out with pinpoint precision by a masterful director. This is the first Bresson I've seen and I'll be seeking out many more when I get the chance. This is New Wave mixed with character study mixed with the intensity of a thriller. I have only experienced a similar feeling with Henri-Georges Clouzot's The Wages Of Fear. The prison genre will most likely forever be eclipsed by The Shawshank Redemption, but this film deserves to equally regarded.

[...]
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sparse spare style of narrarive, 9 July 2009
This review is from: A Man Escaped [DVD] (DVD)
This 1955 movie was made with non-professional actors on a low budget. It is the opposite to what was being churned out in Hollywood at the time (e.g. Giant with James Dean cost millions to make).But I'm no cinematic historian (or at best, I'm not a good cinematic historian), so I'll leave the historical commentary to the film scholars of the world. All I can say is that A Man Escaped has not been ravaged by the passage of time. It remains as intriguing and exciting a film as it was back in the mid-'50s. It certainly beats the pants off of many "dramas" released today apart from the great Shawshank Redemption which is similar to A Man Escaped storyline wise..

(my friends call me Beany)
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Minimal Pleasure - Raj, 20 Dec 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: A Man Escaped [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This was the first Robert Bresson film I saw, and it took only seconds for me to realise that it is a masterpiece. If your a film art follower, or you just like original films, this should be at the top of the list. Well paced, exiting, and tence, without the Hollywood makeup, this is to me one of the most important films ever made.
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A Man Escaped [DVD]
A Man Escaped [DVD] by Robert Bresson (DVD - 2008)
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