Tuesday, May 10, 2011
The Great Escape: Review
The story line is about 250 prisoners escaping from a German POW camp in Germany during WWII. At the beginning of the movie, the Germans were emptying out several other camps, and combined all of them into one camp, over 300 people total. In doing so, they combined all the escape masterminds all in one camp: a deadly combination to the Germans. There is a humorous scene at the beginning where the German officer is listing to the captured British officer all the escape attempts on record on each of the prisoners, all of them on an average having tried at least five or six times. Some, far more, and a lot successful.
Starting from three of the bunkhouses, they dig tunnels, over three hundred feet long underground, out to the forest outside the compound. Things don't quite go as planned, and on the day of escape, only 72 of the planned 250 leave, the rest being prevented by the Germans interfering. Of the 72 that escape, 50 are caught and shot in cold blood by the gestapo, two are killed en-route, a few more are captured and brought back alive, and only a handful escaped from Germany.
A fascinating movie showing step by step how they used what they had, got from the Germans what they didn't, and jimmy rigged the rest to work for their grand scheme. There is an incredible bike chase by Hiltz (pictured) being chased by the Germans, ending in him crashing into the second level of barbed wire after jumping the first, resulting in his recapture. Hiltz, played by Steve McQueen, is one of the main characters, an American Air-Force officer who was captured when his plane went down, and is also an escape expert. He constantly being sent to the "cooler" ( a solitary confinement unit) after multiple escape attempts, and when he does escape by himself to gather information about the country for the rest of the prisoners, turns himself back in to deliver the info. He wasn't keen on this idea at first, but is talked into it by the X-team (the escape experts) big wig, Robert Bartlett, played by Richard Attenborough.
All in all, a fascinating story, with minimal swearing, only happening maybe a grand total of 5 times through the 2 1/2 hour movie.
Onto Worldview. At the beginning of the movie, when the X-team leader is brought into camp, he, in a discussion with the commanding british officer, makes a interesting statement. In reply to his proposal to try to escape, the British officer asks the question, "have you considered what the consequences will be if we fail?" Bartlett replies, "have you ever considered the humiliation of bending to their rule and submitting to their tyranny? By escaping, or trying, we will tie down as many usable soldiers here guarding us, preventing them being used at the front." (all of those being paraphrases).
An interesting statement. We are told in the Bible to submit to those who are over us, but it could be argued that he is submitting to his officers back home, and is doing his duty to his country. In a previous conversation with the commanding German officer, who was insisting that all escape efforts cease, the leading British makes a great statement.
"Sir, it is the duty of all soldiers to try to escape, and to harass and annoy the enemy whenever possible. Would you have them stop doing their duty?" (again, another paraphrase. Sorry about not being exact, I was cleaning my civil-war rifle while watching.)
So, from this we are to deem that harassing the enemy at all costs and trying to escape is in the mere line of duty for every soldier, everywhere. Biblical? Depending on how you argue it.
There is a scene at the end, where after all is said and done, one of the prisoners, after being recaptured, is talking to the head British officer in camp. The officer is listing to him and his fellow all who were killed by the gestapo, and telling them that they had completed Bartlett's goal of harassing the enemy and keeping him occupied. One of the prisoners asks "Was it worth it?" The officers replies "That all depends on your point of view."
That's a true statement. A lot of things in life are different depending on our point of view. Granted, some things are fixed, and are unchangeable in meaning, but still mean different things to different people.
So, a very interesting point, and I'll leave it to you to decide.
This movie has a very interesting score for its genre. Normally, a war movie has very dramatic, deep, exciting music. This movie's theme however is rather merry, and kinda bouncy, almost like the movie is supposed to be a comedy or something similar, but with a patriotic air that gives it touch of seriousness to it. During action scenes, or tense moments, it has fitting orchestral music, fitting the mood and theme, but during the rest, is its main theme, giving the movie the overall feel of happy seriousness. A very odd, but not bad touch. Personally, I like it.
All in all, a very good movie. Not recommended for younger kids due to some scenes of violence, and minimal swearing, but over all, well worth it. 4 Stars.