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BFI Film Classics

La Grande Illusion

Authors: Jackson, Julian

  • Author is a leading historian of Twentieth Century France, and has published awardwinning books on the Popular Front and the Nazi Occupation
  • La Grande Illusion was the first foreign language film to be nominated for an Academy Award as Best Picture
  • Book includes original research into the reception of the film in France
  • Richly illustrated with images from the film
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eBook $18.95
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  • ISBN 978-1-84457-555-8
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Softcover $19.95
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-84457-285-4
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About this book



Jean Renoir's masterpiece La Grande Illusion (1937) tells the story of two French prisoners of war escaping through Germany towards France during World War I. Its themes of divided class, racial and national loyalties and the conflict between patriotism and pacifism made it a controversial film on its release on the eve of World War II. Goebbels, who had once declared the film 'Cinematic Public Enemy Number 1', ordered the prints to be confiscated during the Nazi Occupation of France.

Julian Jackson's compelling study places the film in the context of Renoir's involvement with the left-wing Popular Front, which was split between supporters of an anti-Fascist war and believers in peace at all costs. Jackson highlights the film's ambiguity in its treatnebt of patriotism and pacifism and argues that it is suspended between two historical moments – the Popular Front of the 1930s and the Vichy regime of the 1940s. He traces the film's history after its release – it was banned during the 'phoney war' for its pacifist undertones; banned by the Nazis for being too patriotic; disliked by the Resistance for portraying the Germans too sympathetically and for its treatment of anti-Semitism. 

Jackson discusses the unforgettable performances of Jean Gabin as the working-class Lieutentant Maréchal, Pierre Fresnay as the aristocratic Captain de Boëldieu, Erich von Stroheim as the upper-class Captain von Rauffenstein and Marcel Dalio as the French Jew Rosenthal. He analyses Renoir's highly individual filming style and explores his conception of cinematic 'realism'. Finally, he offers his own answer to the mystery of the film's title: what was the great illusion?


JULIAN JACKSON is Professor of Modern History at Queen Mary, University of London. His publications include The Popular Front in France: Defending Democracy 1934-1938 (1988), France: The Dark Years 1940–1944 (2001) and The Fall of France (2003), which was the joint winner of the 2004 Wolfson Prize for history. He is a fellow of the British Academy and Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Palmes Academiques.  
 

About the authors

JULIAN JACKSON is Professor of Modern History at Queen Mary, University of London. His publications include The Popular Front in France: Defending Democracy 1934-1938 (1988), France: the Dark Years 1940-1944 (2001) and The Fall of France (2003), which was the joint winner of the 2004 Wolfson Prize for history. He is a fellow of the British Academy and Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Palmes Academiques

Reviews

...clear, to the point and packed with black and white stills...' Total Film

'...Jackson's commentary on the film is passionate and informed...' - H-France Review

Buy this book

eBook $18.95
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-84457-555-8
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Softcover $19.95
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-84457-285-4
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Online orders shipping within 2-3 days.

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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
La Grande Illusion
Authors
Series Title
BFI Film Classics
Copyright
2009
Publisher
Palgrave BFI
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s)
eBook ISBN
978-1-84457-555-8
DOI
10.1007/978-1-84457-555-8
Softcover ISBN
978-1-84457-285-4
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
96
Topics