12. The Great Escape

Continuing the theme of WW2 films that don’t take place amidst the actual fighting, The Great Escape (from now on referred to as TGE) is the sweetheart of Christmas-time TV schedulers, allowing them to go home early without putting any real thought in their jobs over the holidays. That and Scrooged. I must be one of the few people to have not seen this film before, spending most previous Christmas holidays gluing pieces of metal to other pieces of metal or playing computer games.

Richard Attenborough down a hole. A caption competition beckons. Man I wish I had quicker wit. I bet I'll think of something funny in a couple of week's time.

Do I have to summarise the plot? I mean, surely just whistling that tune brings to mind all the storyline for you? OK then, basically the Germans have set up a swish new resort for the most hardcore serial escapees amongst the allied POWs. Putting all these bad eggs in one high-security basket, they hope this will efficiently allow them to keep a lid on things. Now I hate stereotypes, but how German is that? The counter to this is that it provides the multi-national inmates the resources and will to attempt an escape on a scale hitherto unheard of. It is the conception, preparation, carrying out and aftermath of this endeavour (based on a real-life event) that the film revolves around.

About as iconic as you can get, really.

There are plenty of characters, and in the tradition of war films from this time, there are many big names on the cast list. To be honest, I think that the entertainment comes from watching the plan take shape, and the tension building as the day of the escape approaches, rather than from seeing the development of any characters or individual plotlines. That’s fine by me; I think that films these days can try to do too much in this regard. I won’t criticise the performances- I just think that the film concentrates on the escape and asks the actors to facilitate this.

The friendship between these two characters (whose names I'm ashamed to say have escaped me) is a relatively rare bit of character development in TGE.

An enjoyable experience, that sees the event through to the end. If you haven’t seen this film yet, congratulations, you’ve been even more sheltered than I. It’s time to escape from your wicked uncle’s basement, and when you next have access to a television set I can guarantee that TGE will be on sooner or later.



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