(aka "Grand Illusion" )

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/renoir.htm
France 1937

“It is magnificent, a French officer said in 1856, watching the Light Brigade throw itself into the Russian guns, but it isn't war. What it is, he might have added, is a grand illusion.”

<SPOILERS>  During 1st WW, two French Air Force officers are held prisoners. Captain De Boeldieu (Pierre Fresnay) is an aristocrat, Lieutenant Marechal (Jean Gabin), a mechanic in civilian life. In their first capture by a German officer, Captain von Rauffenstein (Erich von Stroheim), treats Captain De Boeldieu quite respectfully. The French prisoners go through various vignettes and relate superficially to their German captors, attempt escape, sacrifice, develop and bond with each other. De Boeldieu has learned from his German counterpart and comes to realize as he sacrifices himself for two men who, attempt and, eventually succeed at escape.   <END SPOILERS>

 

The title reflects Renoir’s feeling of the “Illusion” of War. He displays his importance of values towards relationships in life and not towards the war’s victors. The bond of soldiers regardless of geographical border nationality, the bond of a man and a woman, and that of an adult and a child are all covered with beautiful subtlety. There are conversations in the film that are so “in place” in the respective scenes, it is only after the fact that they reflect heavily upon the viewer. Renoir touches on issues of class structure.

``Grand Illusion" influenced two sequences from films after it. In ``The Great Escape'' the digging of the tunnel with the usage of air being accessible to the digger and the disposing of the dirt in the courtyard and the singing of  ``Marseilles'' enraging the Germans in ``Casablanca''. This is repeated in La Grande Illusion.

 

It is hard to describe this film and its impact as it deals with issues on such a personal level. Stroheim and all other actors in this are excellent. For its anti-war message it was decades ahead of its time and a MUST for all film buffs.

Gary Tooze

Posters

Theatrical Release: 8 June 1937

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DVD Comparison:

Criterion Collection (US) - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Optimum (Special Edition) - Region 2 - PAL vs. Warner Bros (UK) - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman and Pavel Borodin for the Screen Caps!

(Criterion Collection (US) - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Optimum (SE) - Region 2- PAL MIDDLE vs. Warner Bros (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

 

Distribution

Criterion Collection (US) Spine #1

Region 0 - NTSC

Optimum

Region 2 - PAL

Warner Bros (UK)
Region 2 - PAL

(click titles for DVDBeaver reviews)

Criterion (without the extras) also available in The Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films - a 50-disc celebration of international films collected under the auspices of the groundbreaking theatrical distributor. It contains Alexander Nevsky (1938), Ashes And Diamonds (1958), L'avventura (1960), Ballad Of A Soldier (1959), Beauty And The Beast (1946), Black Orpheus (1959), Brief Encounter (1945), The Fallen Idol (1948), Fires On The Plain (1959), Fists In The Pocket (1965), Floating Weeds (1959), Forbidden Games (1952), The 400 Blows (1959), Grand Illusion (1937), Häxan (1922), Ikiru (1952), The Importance Of Being Earnest (1952), Ivan The Terrible, Part II (1958), Le Jour Se Lève (1939), Jules And Jim (1962), Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949), Knife In The Water (1962), The Lady Vanishes (1938), The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp (1943), Loves Of A Blonde (1965), M (1931), M. Hulot's Holiday (1953), Miss Julie (1951), Pandora's Box (1929), Pépé Le Moko (1937), Il Posto (1961), Pygmalion (1938), Rashomon (1950), Richard III (1955), The Rules Of The Game (1939), Seven Samurai (1954), The Seventh Seal (1957), The Spirit Of The Beehive (1973), La Strada (1954), Summertime (1955), The Third Man (1949), The 39 Steps (1935), Ugetsu (1953), Umberto D. (1952), The Virgin Spring (1960), Viridiana (1961), The Wages Of Fear (1953), The White Sheik (1952), Wild Strawberries (1957), Three Documentaries By Saul J. Turell plus the hardcover, full color 240-page book.

Runtime 1:53:12 1:49:00 (4% PAL speedup) 1:42:40 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.7 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.30:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.50 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.38 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

Criterion Collection (US)

 

Bitrate:

 

Optimum (UK)

Bitrate:

 

Warner Bros (UK)

 

Audio French (Dolby Digital 1.0) 2.0 Dolby Digital Mono

French (Dolby Digital 2.0)

Subtitles English, None Fixed English Subtitles English (non-removable)
Features Release Information:
Studio: Criterion Collection (US)

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Audio essay by film historian Peter Cowie
• A rare theatrical trailer in which Jean Renoir discusses both Grand Illusion and his personal war ex
• Archival radio presentation: Renoir and Erich von Stroheim accept Grand Illusion’s Best Foreign Film honors at the 1938 New York Film Critics Awards
• Press book excerpts: Renoir’s letter “to the projectionist,” cast bios, an essay on Renoir by von St
• Restoration demonstration

DVD Release Date: November 23, 1999
Keep case

Chapters 17

Release Information:
Studio: Optimum

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.30:1

Edition Details:
• Introduction by Ginette VIncendeau (23:38)
• Introduction by Jean Renoir (5:35)
• La Petite Marchande D'Allumettes (31:35)
• Sur Un Air De Charleston (21:49)
• Original Theatrical Trailer (4:13)

DVD Release Date: November 13, 2006
Keep Case

Chapters 16

 
Release Information:
Studio: Warner Bros (UK)

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Available as part of 3-disc set.
2 more movies:
• - Le crime de Monsieur Lange (1935)
• - La bête humaine (1938)

 

DVD Release Date: September 6, 2004
Triple jewel case

Chapters 20

 

Comments:
ADDITION: Optimum - Dec 06' : While the Optimum transfer, a port of the Studio Canal re-release, is better than Warner, almost par with Criterion, and has the scenes not included in the Warner edition (see bottom), it is still cropped on the left to reduce frame from 1.33 to 1.30. There are minute signs of macro blocking, but apart from that it is next to flawless. However due to the cropping, the superior image goes to Criterion. Plus the Optimum subtitles are fixed on the image.

Additional material is a insightful introduction by French critic Ginette Vincendeau, an introduction by Jean Renoir, two early shorts by Renoir, the first "Sur Un Air De Charleston" (1926), the second an adaptation of H.C.Andersen's Little Match Girl "La Petite Marchande D'Allumettes" (1928), and finally the films original trailer.

 - Henrik Sylow

Not much to say here. It is obvious that Criterion's flagship DVD (although spine #1, was not the very first released!) is superior in every way. The image is sharper, better contrast, better subtitles (and removable). The Warner is cropped on the left and top edges. But the big problem are the cut scenes from the Warner, making it an automatic dismissal. I hope the other films in this boxset were given their proper due. The Criterion extras are superb, although some might find Cowie's commentary a little dry. We really don't need to sell you on the Criterion as you already own it. Don't you?

 -Gary Tooze




DVD Menus

Optimum (SE) - Region 2- PAL

 



(Criterion Collection (US) - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Warner Bros (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)
 

 

 

 


 

Subtitle sample

(Criterion Collection (US) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Optimum (SE)- Region 2- PAL MIDDLE vs..  Warner Bros (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


Screen Captures

(Criterion Collection (US) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Optimum (SE)- Region 2- PAL MIDDLE vs..  Warner Bros (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Criterion Collection (US) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Optimum (SE)- Region 2- PAL MIDDLE vs..  Warner Bros (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Criterion Collection (US) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Optimum (SE)- Region 2- PAL MIDDLE vs..  Warner Bros (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Criterion Collection (US) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Optimum (SE)- Region 2- PAL MIDDLE vs..  Warner Bros (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Criterion Collection (US) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Optimum (SE)- Region 2- PAL MIDDLE vs..  Warner Bros (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Criterion Collection (US) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Optimum (SE) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)
Scenes missing from Warner disc

 

 


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Criterion

Sound:

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Extras: Criterion
Menu: Criterion

 

DVD Box Covers

 

Distribution

Criterion Collection (US) Spine #1

Region 0 - NTSC

Optimum

Region 2 - PAL

Warner Bros (UK)
Region 2 - PAL

(click titles for DVDBeaver reviews)

Criterion (without the extras) also available in The Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films - a 50-disc celebration of international films collected under the auspices of the groundbreaking theatrical distributor. It contains Alexander Nevsky (1938), Ashes And Diamonds (1958), L'avventura (1960), Ballad Of A Soldier (1959), Beauty And The Beast (1946), Black Orpheus (1959), Brief Encounter (1945), The Fallen Idol (1948), Fires On The Plain (1959), Fists In The Pocket (1965), Floating Weeds (1959), Forbidden Games (1952), The 400 Blows (1959), Grand Illusion (1937), Häxan (1922), Ikiru (1952), The Importance Of Being Earnest (1952), Ivan The Terrible, Part II (1958), Le Jour Se Lève (1939), Jules And Jim (1962), Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949), Knife In The Water (1962), The Lady Vanishes (1938), The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp (1943), Loves Of A Blonde (1965), M (1931), M. Hulot's Holiday (1953), Miss Julie (1951), Pandora's Box (1929), Pépé Le Moko (1937), Il Posto (1961), Pygmalion (1938), Rashomon (1950), Richard III (1955), The Rules Of The Game (1939), Seven Samurai (1954), The Seventh Seal (1957), The Spirit Of The Beehive (1973), La Strada (1954), Summertime (1955), The Third Man (1949), The 39 Steps (1935), Ugetsu (1953), Umberto D. (1952), The Virgin Spring (1960), Viridiana (1961), The Wages Of Fear (1953), The White Sheik (1952), Wild Strawberries (1957), Three Documentaries By Saul J. Turell plus the hardcover, full color 240-page book.



 

 

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Gary Tooze

Mississauga, Ontario,

   CANADA

Many Thanks...