The Great Escape is a definitive war classic. The film based on the true story about a group of American/British P.O.Ws who found a way to escape the Stalag Luft III prison. Though I say it’s based on a true story, not all the events in the film are true and many of the characters are indeed fictitious. But this film captured the hearts of millions as Steven McQueen and Richard Attenborough take the helm in what is, the daring Great Escape.
The film is set in Stalag Luft III, a notorious (notorious for two prisoner escapes) P.O.W camp. It starts of introducing many characters such as Roger Bartlett (Richard Attenborough), Virgil Hilts (Steve McQueen), Danny Velinski (Charles Bronson), Bob Hendley (James Garner) as well as more.
The camp commandant states at the beginning of the film that ‘there will be no escapes from this camp’. We learn prior to this that the men in the camp are notorious for escaping. The viewers become accustomed to this, as the minute the men have reached the camp, we see several escape attempts. Soon after, Roger Bartlett arrives, known as ‘Big X’, the leader of the escapists, and comes up with the plan that will lead to the Great Escape. The greatest escape attempt ever accomplished with 250 men. But do they succeed? Well, you’ll have to find out for yourself.
The film revolves around the large cast of big name actors. The characters are all likable: Hilts being the rebel, Bartlett being the big leader and Hendley being the suave gentleman. This makes film more watchable by all age groups as we see the heros trying to escape the villainous Nazis. There are comedy moments involving the actors which proves for an entertaining watch.
The Nazis, as per usual, are the villains but I would have expected them to be more evil. I don’t really know much about P.O.W camps but I would have expected them to be more harsh on their enemies. But I guess if you put that element in, the film would be more darker than jovial as it is for the most part. And that wouldn’t appeal to the generations of children who grew up watching McQueen and Attenborough taking on the Nazis.
The film is also lit up by the great Elmer Bernstein theme which I’m sure everyone will recognise. It had the mix of the military/army feel as well as a happy feeling.
I really enjoyed this film and though I felt it was a little slow to take off, the film comes into it’s own as the great plan also comes together. With great characters, story and World War Two pizzaz, this is a classic that shouldn’t be missed.