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The Great Escaper  (12A) |Close Up-Film Review

Dir. Oliver Parker, UK/US, 2023, 97 mins

Cast:  Michael Caine, Glenda Jackson, John Standing

Review by Carol Allen

The film is based on the true life story of World War Two veteran Bernard Jordan (Michael Caine), who hit the headlines in 2014, when he did a runner from the care home where he lived with his wife Rene (Glenda Jackson) in order to take part in the 70th anniversary war veterans commemoration ceremony in Normandy. 

 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.


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