Tuesday, May 17, 2005

DVD: La Grande Illusion

I just received I will be receiving a original DVD version of this movie. The first time I saw this movie was several years ago during one of the movie festivals at the old cinema house at Shangrila. Now of course they have that cineplex and the premiere theatre. This is probably one of the best movies ever.
The movie is set during the WWI and tells the story of how war affected the life and fate of French and German officers. It is said to be one of the greatest anti-war movies of all time. One of the strength of the movie, for me at least, is that it shows rather than tells or preach.

According to an article in Wikipedia, the film was released in 1937 and received much critical acclaim. And in 1938 the film was the first foreign language film nominated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the Academy Award for Best Picture. The New York Film Critics Circle Awards and the National Board of Review awarded it the Best Foreign Film award in 1938. And it won an award for "Best Artistic Ensemble" at the Venice Film Festival. Afterwards, the Nazis declared the film "Cinematic Public Enemy Number One" (although in some accounts it was said that the label was actually given to its director Jean Renoir) and Nazi Propaganda Minister Goebbels issued orders that the prints be confiscated and destroyed.

It was long believed that the original negative was destroyed in the Alled air bombings in 1942. Fortunately, the film was smuggled by film archivist and Frank Hansel to Berlin. After the Russians attacked in 1945 the film found its way to an archive in Moscow. Here the negatives stayed until the Russian archive swapped it with some material with an archive in Tolouse. However, it would take another 30 years before anyone realised that the original negative was part of the collection of the archive in Tolouse.

I am not quite sure but I think the DVD version is based on the original negative from collection in Tolouse. I cannot wait to watch when I get back home today. For me movies like these are worth collecting.

IMDB. Grand Illusion, La (1937)

Wikipedia. Grand Illusion

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