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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 6 June 2013
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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on 8 June 2013
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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on 25 June 2004
"Putting all the rotten eggs in one basket" was how the German kommandant of Stalag Luft III allegedly described to the senior British officer, Ramsay (James Donald), the task of getting the most "troublesome" escapers from the "Big X" organisation from POW camps scattered all over the embattled Third Reich to one place. Looking at the set based on the real camp, it was nothing like Colditz Castle - rather like something thrown up in haste on a patch lacking greenery but located conveniently next to a wood.
Yet, under the direction of "Big X" Bartlett (Richard Attenborough in what, for me, was his most memorable role), seething with rage at ill-treatment from the Gestapo who threatened "You will be shot" if he escaped again and was caught, these "rotten eggs" managed to conjure up one of the most daring prisoner-of-war breakouts in military history, whose story was recounted by Paul Brickhill, the author also responsible for the book which had inspired the film, "The Dam Busters" (1955).
Attenborough is joined by a cast of well-known British stars like Gordon Jackson (of ITV's "Upstairs Downstairs" fame), Angus Lennie (who memorably blows a raspberry at the kommandant for his comment that British and German people "understand" each other), David McCallum (playing the only naval officer in the movie), and Donald Pleasance (who was no mean "twit" with his understanding of birds - yes, it is a pun!), plus, of course, big-name American stars James Garner, Charles Bronson and Steve McQueen.
Garner plays Handley "The Scrounger", a volunteer with the American-crewed RAF "Eagle" fighter squadrons, Bronson plays Danny, "The Tunnel King", a Polish volunteer with the RAF, while McQueen plays Hilts, a U.S. Army Air Forces man who, for reasons never explained, is put in this camp along with the "Big X" people. This was quite clearly an attempt to sell this movie to the American public, yet it was an inspired choice, given that its popularity has endured over the past four decades.
Thankfully, the man who would go on to play "Bullitt" was not solely responsible for making the movie one of the greatest WWII movies ever made. In their respective scenes before, during and after the tension-filled escape from the camp, Bronson, whose character's claustrophobia nearly stops the escape before it even starts, Garner and Pleasance have their chances to shine, though James Coburn, who plays Sedgwick, an Australian, does not have a memorable time, since he gets all the way to Spain in a leisurely way without meeting any trouble from the Germans - unlike McQueen, who - how shall I put it succinctly - tries to escape on a motorbike. (The rest is, as they say, cinematic history.)
The camaraderie amongst the men and their success in getting 76 men out before the penny (pfennig) finally dropped are very hard to ignore, as they use their ingenuity in distracting the Germans while carrying on the mammoth task of digging three long escape tunnels.
Yet it was not as if the POWs had everything their own way - who can forget the scene of Ives (Lennie) hanging off the barbed wire fence after being shot by a German watchtower guard as he made a futile escape attempt during the prisoners' impromptu July 4th bash to celebrate U.S. Independence Day, or the scene at the railway station where Ashley-Pitt (McCallum) sacrifices his life to prevent a Gestapo officer publicly identifying Bartlett (Attenborough) and McDonald (Jackson).
"The Great Escape" has endured in popularity for many reasons. Most of all, it tells a story based on a true story. It is a story of courage where one side had weapons whereas the other had none at all. The viewer is caught up in the tension as the POWs, in disguise, use public transport and wonder if the passengers around them, including S.S. officers, are aware of who they really are. Such tension is usual in espionage movies, yet this movie succeeds in producing even more tension than those other ones, and no spying is involved. These are people who broke out of the camp for freedom and for the chance of getting back home to continue the fight for Europe's freedom.
As the film ends, the viewer learns that it is "dedicated to the fifty" real POWs who were brutally murdered by the Gestapo after their escape from Stalag Luft III. I like to think that, even without the Hollywood hype (such as it was in the 1960s), this movie did do their story justice. Kudos to all the actors for fine, memorable performances.
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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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on 10 June 2013
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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on 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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on 1 June 2003
The Great Escape is possibly one of the greatest films ever made- the brilliant all star cast-(Steve Mcqueen,Ricard Attenborough) the incredible attention to detail - the whole prison camp set was a complete reconstruction of the original, and derelict vehicles were revamped to add to authenticity. The plot is simple but brilliant - set in 1943-44, the Nazis have assembled a high security prison camp to contain all the allied prisoners who attempted break outs in prison elsewhere. Inadvertantly, the Nazis have assembled the perfect escape team. Although the film is 2h 40 mins, every minute is essential - the balance of the film is perfect, and it is thoroughly exciting.
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on 26 June 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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on 23 May 2002
For you Tommy, ze wait iz over! The Great Escape makes it best ever bid for freedom this spring in two DVDs fit for heroes!
The Magnificent Seven director John Sturges reunited with film icon Steve McQueen in 1963 for this, the most famous and most thrilling escape movie ever made. The Great Escape co-stars such legendary actors as Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Richard Attenborough, James Garner, Gordon Jackson and Donald Pleasence and was based on the bestseller by Paul Brickhill, the same man who wrote Reach For The Sky and The Dam Busters.
It's based on the true story of hundreds of Allied prisoners covertly working together to pull off a daring escape from Stalag Luft North, Nazi Germany's most secure POW camp. The men dig tunnels, forge papers, fashioned maps and even uniforms in readiness for the big push only for the chosen few to face impossible odds and danger at every turn when finally out in the open.
Everyone remembers the image of 'The Cooler King' McQueen astride his motorcycle as he makes his last desperate dash for the barbed wire frontier. The movie has become a national institution thanks to frequent broadcasts during festive seasons and the famous theme tune has had the ultimate accolade of being belted out by fans at World Cup matches.
It's that connection to the beautiful game that makes this release all the better. MGM Home Entertainment are releasing two double DVD sets - the special edition will present The Great Escape in its original screen ratio, Dolby Digital 5.1 and will boast a commentary by the cast and crew. No less than three documentaries, titled 'An American Icon', 'History Versus Hollywood' and 'The True Story Of The Great Escape,' explore the film from all angles plus a trivia track tells you facts, figures and info during the course of the film. The original theatrical trailer rounds the set off.
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on 22 October 2011
BEWARE ! The Run Time is 165mn (2h45) and NOT 172mn (2h52mn). Apparently like all other versions of the Great Escape sold on Amazon, this dvd has been cut, with various scenes, including a good part of the famous motorcycle chase, deleted. Why studios act in this manner is a mystery to me ! Amazon must also improve the checking of Product Details, as I already found quite a few examples of incomplete or incorrect product details, particularly language, subtitles, sound mode and run time. Finally, if someone finds a full version of this dvd, i.e. 172mn, he should post the information on this customer review.
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