A Prison Is For Escaping: La Grande Illusion (1937)

By Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast ( bio - articles - email ) | Aug 17, 2020 | In Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast

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When asked what two films he would take with him “on the ark”, Orson Welles simply responded, “La Grande Illusion... and something else!”

A classic of prison escape movies, The Grand Illusion (1937) was hugely influential on films that followed, including The Great Escape. Variously banned by both German and French authorities, the film—which deals with themes of class, prejudice, and war—was not without controversy.

Film critic Roger Ebert called it “a meditation on the collapse of the old order of European civilization,” and critics and film historians alike regard the film not only a masterpiece of French cinema, but also one of the greatest films of all time. The Grand Illusion, in fact, was restored and released as the inaugural DVD of The Criterion Collection.

James and Thomas discuss this seminal work by director Jean Renoir, son of the famous French painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

Next up on Criteria, we’ll be viewing and discussing the second installment of Dekalog, the 10-part series of films directed by Polish auteur Krzysztof KieĊ›lowski.

Notes

Millet and Modern Art: From Van Gogh to Dalí https://www.slam.org/exhibitions/millet-and-modern-art/

The Flight Into Egypt, by Jean Millet https://www.artic.edu/artworks/145832/the-flight-into-egypt

CatholicCulture.org Podcast Community https://www.facebook.com/groups/CatholicPods/

Theme music: The Duskwhales, “Take It Back”, used with permission. https://theduskwhales.bandcamp.com/

Criteria is hosted by Thomas V. Mirus and James T. Majewski.

Thomas is a pianist living in New York City. He is the director of audio media for CatholicCulture.org and hosts The Catholic Culture Podcast. See full bio.

James is a stage, film, and voice actor based in New York City, holding a BA in Philosophy and an MFA in Acting. He is the host and narrator for Catholic Culture Audiobooks. See full bio.

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