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