The Hailsham Film Club offering for June will be the French film La Grande Illusion. The classic war drama, directed by Jean Renoir, has been chosen to tie in with the 75th anniversary of its original release which was on the 8th June, 1937. It has been digitally remastered and will be shown on Hailsham Pavilion's state of the art digital system.
La Grande Illusion, although essentially a pacifist film, has a lot more to say about war than just a simplistic 'it's bad'. The central characters are representative of different nationalities and social classes, each with their own political ideologies and beliefs. Renoir used the then recent Great War as the film's setting, but was concerned with the rising of fascism and antisemitism during the 1930s, and the threat of a Second War destroying Europe again. He did not believe that any war could ever accomplish its stated aims. At the time of the 1958 re-release, Renoir said, "[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."
During the Great War, two French aviators, the aristocratic Captain de Boeldieu and Lieutenant Marechal, a mechanic, are captured and sent to a prisoner of war camp where they meet other prisoners including Rosenthal, the son of a wealthy Jewish banking family. The two aviators manage to escape but are recaptured and this time are sent to a fortress. They are reunited with Rosenthal. De Boeldieu makes friends with the fortress commandant, another aristocrat named Van Rauffenstein, and is content to stay put, but Rosenthal and Marechal are determined to try another escape attempt.