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Grand Illusion

Grand Illusion

A Feature film by Jean Renoir

Produced by Les Réalisations d'Art Cinématographique (RAC)

Release in France : 04/06/1937

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Actors (19)

Production and distribution (3)

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Box office: Timeline

International releases (8)

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During 1st WW, two French officers are captured. Captain De Boeldieu is an aristocrat while Lieutenant Marechal was a mechanic in civilian life. They meet other prisoners from various backgrounds, as Rosenthal, son of wealthy Jewish bankers. They are separated from Rosenthal before managing to escape. A few months later, they meet again in a fortress commanded by the aristocrat Van Rauffenstein. De Boeldieu strikes up a friendship with him but Marechal and Rosenthal still want to escape...

Source : IMDb


According to Renoir's memoirs, von Stroheim, despite being born in Vienna, Austria (then the Austro-Hungarian Empire) did not speak much German, and struggled with learning the language along with his lines in between filming scenes.

The exteriors of "Wintersborn" were filmed at the Haut Koenigsbourg Castle in Alsace. Other exteriors were filmed at the artillery barracks at Colmar (built by Wilhelm II) and at Neuf-Brisach on the Upper Rhine.

An early script version had Rosenthal and Maréchal agreeing to meet in a restaurant at the end of the war. In the final scene, everyone there would be celebrating the armistice, but instead of these men, there would be two empty chairs at a table.

Renoir was a French aviator during World War I. Gabin wears Renoir's uniform in the film.

In Grand Illusion, director Jean Renoir uses the First World War (1914–1918) as a lens through which to examine Europe as it faces the rising spectre of fascism (especially in Nazi Germany) and the impending approach of the Second World War (1939–1945). Renoir's critique of contemporary politics and ideology celebrates the universal humanity that transcends national and racial boundaries and radical nationalism, suggesting that mankind's common experiences should prevail above political division, and its extension: war.

On the message of the film, Renoir himself said, in a film trailer dating from the re-release of the film in 1958: "Grand Illusion is a story about human relationships. I am confident that such a question is so important today that if we don’t solve it, we will just have to say ‘goodbye’ to our beautiful world."

Source : Wikipedia

Full credits (10)

Assistant directors :

Jacques Becker, Robert Rips

Director of Photography :

Christian Matras

Assistant Operators :

Jean Bourgoin, Claude Renoir

Continuity supervisor :

Françoise Giroud

Production Designer :

Eugène Lourie

Screenwriters :

Charles Spaak, Jean Renoir

Sound Recordist :

Joseph De Bretagne

Editors :

Marguerite Houllé-Renoir, Marthe Huguet

Music Composer :

Joseph Kosma

Still Photographer :

Sam Levin

Technical details

Feature film

Genres :


Sub-genre :

Psychological comedy

Themes :

War, Freedom

Production language :


Original French-language productions :


Nationality :

100% French

Production year :


French release :


Runtime :

1 h 35 min

Current status :


Visa number :


Visa issue date :


Approval :


Production formats :


Color type :

Black & White

Aspect ratio :


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Posters (1)


Festival Selections (6)

Academy Awards - 1939

Academy Awards (United States, 1939)


Nomination for Best Motion Picture of the Year

Venice International Film Festival  - 1937

Venice International Film Festival (Italy, 1937)


Official Competition


Academy Awards - 1939

Academy Awards (United States, 1939)


Academy Award for Best Film