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La Grande Illusion review

2 French soldiers and their attempts to escape German POW camps

“To express the commin humanity of men,” is how Jean Renoir summed up his reasons for making this WW1 POW classic.

Reissued and digitally restored for its 75th anniversary, it remains a compassionate, ambiguous work: an anti-war drama that doesn’t contain a single battlefield scene and a tribute to internationalism that respects the rituals and codes of a dying aristocratic order.

Beautifully acted (by the likes of Jean Gabin and Erich von Stroheim), photographed and designed, it ranks proudly alongside The Rules Of The Game as Renoir at his stunning best.

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