John Sturges' nail-biting POW classic The Great Escape arrives on DVD with a widescreen transfer that preserves the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. English and French soundtracks are rendered in Dolby Digital Stereo. English, Spanish, and French subtitles are accessible. Supplemental materials include a half-hour documentary, production notes, trivia, and the original theatrical trailer. This fine package will please fans of the film and may draw some interest from people unfamiliar with it.
24-minute documentary on the making of "The Great Escape"
The film was to a fair extent a work of fiction, based on the real events but with numerous compromises made for purposes of commercial appeal, serving as a vehicle for its box-office stars. While many of its characters were fictitious and events glossed over, most were amalgams of several real characters and many were based on real people. There were no escapes by aircraft or motorcycle: the motorcycle sequence was a request from McQueen, an avid motorcyclist, who did the stunt riding himself except for the final jump (done by Bud Ekins). Nor were the recaptured prisoners executed in one place at the same time. The screenwriters significantly increased the involvement of American POWs; the real escape was by largely British and other allied personnel. A few American officers in the POW camp initially contributed towards construction of the tunnels, and worked on the early escape plans; however, American personnel were moved to a remote compound seven months before the escape, ending their involvement. As well, the film suggests the three prisoners who escaped to freedom were British, Polish, and Australian; in reality, they were Norwegian (Jens Müller & Per Bergsland) and Dutch (Bram van der Stok)
The film omits mention of the crucial role Canadians played in the construction of the tunnels and the escape itself. Of the 1,800 or so POWs in the compound, 600 were involved in preparations for the escape; 150 of these were Canadian. Wally Floody, an RCAF pilot and mining engineer who was the real-life "tunnel king", was engaged as a technical advisor for the film.
Ex-POWs asked film-makers to exclude details about the help they received from their home countries, such as maps, papers, and tools hidden in gift packages, lest it jeopardise future POW escapes. The film-makers complied.
This is among a select few movies I can watch over and over. This is a true classic - Steve McQueen, James Garner, David McCallum (Ducky on NCIS) - too many stars to name - many of which you would say, "Oh, yeah, I recognize him/her!" This is one for the collection!
Some swear it IS the best World War II film ever.
Based on a True Story, a group of soldiers plan to escape a German Prison Camp in WWII. James Garner, Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, David McCallum (yes, that guy on NCIS), Donald Pleasence (yes, that guy from the Halloween films) all star in this classic directed by John Sturges.
This is a Criterion Edition and it LOOKS SPECTACULAR. Two audio commentaries... one from 1991 (the Director) and one from 2003 (with 3 of the actors!) . Interviews and other special features abound.
This film has lots of suspense and action and all the actors do a top notch job; though Steve McQueen is best remembered.
Highly Recommended. The film was made in 1963.
An uncanny thriller, The Great Escape, remains John Sturges masterful and always entertaining adventure tale of a prison break to end all prison breaks. In a starring role that made Steve McQueen a Hollywood screen idol and film hero, The Great Escape remains a masterpiece of cinema now preserved in a stunning release by Criterion for movie goers to enjoy forever.