It is an intelligent prison-film and drama—the most common words used by critics heaping praise on it are “humanist”, ”anti-war” and “graceful”. Graceful is the only one that refers to style- putting it candidly it’s a masterpiece because of Renoir’s tracking shots
I’m stealing from ebert here- he says “the camera doesn’t point or intrude—it glides”
Behind the intelligence in the narrative, the great acting by Gabin, Fresnay, Dalio and von Stroheim, there is some great parallel editing, especially in the beginning, mirroring the mise-en-scene of the French with the German (poster slogans, posters of women) to show how alike they are
A brilliant shot framed in window and then Renoir pulls back to resume action- this is certainly a Renoir stylistic trademark
I just caught up on this massive blind spot and was blown away. There is so much to say about it – Renoir’s camerawork, the class divisions, the formal parallels in the relationships between French and German characters. I’ll just leave this here though for anyone with 50 minutes to spare. I’m a huge admirer of David Thorburn and his lecture on La Grande Illusion is utterly wonderful.
[…] La Grande Illusion – Renoir […]