Movie of the Week: The Great Escape (1963)

Film still from The Great Escape

John Sturges directs Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough and James Garner in this true tale of a WWII POW mass escape.

As close to movie perfection as you can get. An all star cast, all utilised efficiently and effectively for almost three hours of men on a mission bliss. A masterclass in ensemble storytelling and making the mundane riveting. It is at the end of the day a movie that features 90 minutes of digging and soil dispersal. But… But… But… You invest in the clear cut characters due to the strong, playing to type actors, you invest in the mission due to the pratical and machine calibrated storytelling – logical without being didactic . And once the break starts the real fun begins. And yes, I’ll happily concede, it takes a big horrible reality of war and makes it all a bit of a boy’s own romp. But then away from massively hummable theme tune, the jolly Allied cast of comrades joshing around and the derring do you get a shock of violence and the stakes and sacrifices of the real heroes are remembered. There’s no better way to spend a Sunday afternoon.



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