The film is not only a tribute to an old man determined to honour his fallen former comrades but a celebration of a 60 year long love story between Bernard and his wife Rene (Glenda Jackson), giving her final performance as a woman strong in character though weak in body. A superb characterisation but only to be expected from the only actress to take years out of her acting career to be in politics and then return to play King Lear in the theatre at an age when many actors have lost the ability to remember the lines. The duo, who last acted opposite each other in the 70s in The Romantic Englishwoman, beautifully capture the frailty of old age and their enduring love for each other dating back to a past which to them is still alive.
Caine is as always a terrific film actor. There is a moment before he boards the ferry to Normandy, when his is staring out to sea and into the past, where you almost don’t need the flashback to the battle that is coming – you can see what he is remembering in his eyes. While the scenes of Bernard at the dead soldiers’ cemetery in France are particularly moving.
There is also a first class performance from John Standing as Arthur, a posh and lonely former RAF man, driven by guilt about his part in the war and his dead brother, who is desperate for a drinking companion and latches onto Arthur.
Meanwhile back on the home front Rene is playing her swing records and remembering their courting days. Will Fletcher and Laura Marcus are a believable match as young Bernard and Rene. Then Bernard becomes a media celebrity and Rene’s carer Adele (Danielle Vitalis) becomes a supportive friend.
This film really is a treat. It’s touching but never maudlin and beautifully acted with first class performances from actors, who prove that “age cannot wither” and they can still be at the top of their game despite the impressive number years they’ve been plying their craft.
THE GREAT ESCAPER is available to rent on Premium Video on Demand from 6th November via digital retailers in the UK. The film will also be available on DVD and Blu-Ray on 11th December.
DVD & BLU-RAY ELEMENTS
“The Great Escaper” Blu-Ray and DVD contains the following special features:
· Making Of Featurette
· Love Story Featurette
· War Featurette
· Original Theatrical Trailer
· Feature Audio Description
DVD and Blu-Ray Street Date: 11th December 2023
Formats: DVD & BD
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 Widescreen
DVD Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio Descriptive Service
BD Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
Subtitles (DVD & BD): English SDH
DVD Runtime: 92 Mins. Approx.
BD Runtime: 96 Mins.
UK Rating: 12
Consumer Advice: infrequent strong language, moderate sex references