The Great Escape (1963) Tells Actually the Story of a War Crime

Maybe 90% of my readers are yawning now. I am very sorry but since I have seen The Great Escape for the first time only recently I had no clue. I thought it was basically the story of an escape, which it is, of course. The scene of Steve McQueen on a bike was very familiar as well (one of those memorable movie scenes), but apart from that: zero. I never heard it mentioned anywhere that it is based on the true story of a war crime. Are there any others out there like me who haven’t seen it yet? Maybe. For their sake I am not going to reveal why it is the story of a war crime. Just telling you, that it is.

Apart from that? Did I like it? Obviously when everybody tells you how great a movie is you start to expect something and if that is not what you get then you are slightly disappointed. So I was slightly disappointed. I didn’t expect such a summer camp like joyousness in the beginning. I rather expected something in the vein of The Colditz Story. Something a tad bleaker and grimmer. The feel of The Great Escape is much more adventure story than war movie. Plus English actors who play Englishmen  who pretend to be Germans and get away with it despite their heavy accents are not the height of realism.

What is my final conclusion? No, you are wrong, I don’t write it off but I will have to watch it again without the weird expectations that are never going to be fulfilled. A proper review will be due by the time I have watched it for the second time. After all its a classic, with a fabulous all-star cast and it’s just bad luck  I never watched it as a kid when it was on TV cause everyone who watched it then has the fondest memories. It’s definitely nice to have fond childhood movie memories. My only childhood war movie memory is A Bridge Too Far. Yeah well, not a bad one either, right?

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5 thoughts on “The Great Escape (1963) Tells Actually the Story of a War Crime

  1. warmoviebuff says:

    I’m sorry you were disappointed. It was my favorite movie as a kid and its annual appearance on TV was a highlight of the year for me and my brothers. Imagine having to wait a year between viewings of your favorite movie. Kids have no idea how good they have it today! I agree that it is not realistic in its mood, but it was made in an era where depressing storylines were avoided because audiences wanted escapism. At least the movie is truthful in the aftermath of the escape. It is also fairly accurate across the board. I do have a problem with them forcing some Americans into the camp when there were none at the time of the escape, but it is no surprise given the target audience. “U-571” is much worse than this.

    • I was sorry too as I know quite afew people who like it a lot. I’m a sure I would have loved it ifI had seen it earlier and without the idea of a resemblance to The Colditz Story. Don’t know why I thought that.

  2. warmoviebuff says:

    The title of the post is a little strange. While it is true that the movie includes the infamous execution of 50 of the escapees, it is a quick scene and does not even show the deaths (this is, after all, a 60s movie). I do not think most viewers take away the theme that the Germans committed a war crime. Maybe they should, but I think the mood of the movie dissipates that message. “The Germans executed 50 prisoners” would barely make the top ten most memorable things about the movie.

    • That is exactly why I chose the title. No one ever mentioned it and I found this to be memorable. I was playing around with the expectations we have when hearing *The Great Escape”. Definitely no one thinks it’s about a war crime yet that is what I will remember now. I really took the liberty of such a title thinking there are only a very few people who have not seen it.

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