La Grande Il­lu­sion

Provincial Living - - Entertainment -

The Sur­re­al­ists were not the only artists to seize upon cin­ema. Pierre-Au­guste Renoir’s son, Jean, gave up ce­ram­ics to pur­sue a ca­reer as a di­rec­tor. Fre­quently lauded as one of the great­est di­rec­tors of all time, his 1937 film La Grande Il­lu­sion is one of his best-loved works. Screen­ing at this year’s Aus­tralian French Film Fes­ti­val, La Grande Il­lu­sion ex­plores life in a prison camp dur­ing WWI.

Jean Renoir was pas­sion­ate about the film’s anti-war mes­sage: “a ques­tion…so im­por­tant to­day that if we don’t solve it, we will just have to say ‘good­bye’ to our beau­ti­ful world,” he said. Yet both the Ger­man and French Gov­ern­ments banned La Grande Il­lu­sion early in WWII, feel­ing it would un­der­mine morale.

La Grande Il­lu­sion advertising poster

by Bernard Lancy (1937)

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