A man escaped

ManEscapesA Man Escaped tells the true story of a French Resistance Fighter who was captured by the Nazis in 1943 and sent to a notorious prison in Lyons, occupied France, to await execution. The mechanics of the film are unlike any other film depicting an escape from an impossible situation.

The ingenuity of the central character to achieve this aim is mind blowing. Unlike the bluster and noise associated with Hollywood’s prison movies, this one has none of that. The Nazi guards are seldom seen; the only violence is a few brief scenes at the beginning. The use of sounds are cleverly done – off-screen: footsteps, keys clinking, coded taps on the wall to someone in the next cell, the sound of machine gun fire signalling an execution. The main dialogue is a voice-over by the prisoner, informing us of his intention to escape.

The director, Robert Bresson, was himself a prisoner during the war and drew on his experiences when making the film. Someway into the film, the prisoner, named Fontaine, is moved to another cell. Any day now he will be taken out and shot. How is he going to get out? His eyes are centred on the cell door – that’s his way out. From then on his efforts begin to take shape.

Not having any tools, he uses what’s available for the task of getting through the cell door – a dinner spoon. I’ll stop there, because I hope you get a copy of the DVD (it’s available) and watch magic being performed.
Critics world-wide were unanimous in naming it the greatest escape film ever made.

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