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Jean Renoir’s 1937 masterpiece “Grand Illusion” is here in greater Boston at the Harvard Film Archive, being projected on a beautiful 35mm format for the celebration of its 75th anniversary.
Set during 1916 amidst WWI in a German POW camp holding mostly French soldiers, “Grand Illusion” reminds us that the definition of “freedom” remains the same to all human beings regardless of what ethnic background they’re from or what language they talk. After a diverse group of French soldiers are taken into custody by German officers, the prisoners continually plan different methods of escape – even though their living conditions aren’t all that atrocious.
This tale of the existence of morality between internationals was almost confiscated and completely lost because the Nazis found the concept of “Grand Illusion” completely senseless, as it features a motley crew of people who would get along totally fine if not for the orders of their superiors. The new print of this film has been recently converted from its original camera negative, ensuring that is made of the highest possible quality, and having seen it I can vouch for its beauty.
Orson Welles said “If I had only one film in the world to save, it would be ‘Grand Illusion.’” I think that there’s a good chance that if you were to see “Grand Illusion,” you’d realize its importance and perhaps even say the same thing as the great Mr. Welles. This film’s message is still completely relevant today and could most definitely speak to the general movie-going population if they were to see it. It stars Jean Gabin, Pierre Fresnay, Marcel Dalio, Dita Parlo and Erich Von Stroheim.
The showtimes for “Grand Illusion” are:
Friday, August 10th at 7:00PM
Saturday, August 11th at 9:00PM
Sunday, August 12th at 4:30PM
Monday, August 13th at 7:00PM
Friday, August 17th at 9:00PM
Saturday, August 18th at 7:00PM
Sunday, August 19th at 4:30PM
At: The Harvard Film Archive
(In the basement of the Carpenter Center)
24 Quincy Street in Cambridge, MA
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