THE GREAT ESCAPE 50th Anniversary Blu-ray Review
Bold red letter titles along with one of the catchiest theme songs sets the opening for The Great Escape, one of the greatest (if not the greatest) WWII movie. What sets this film apart from others are the memorable characters, mix of humor and a heist movie feel. This coupled with the fantastic ensemble cast, and you have a winner of epic proportions.
The film, based on a true story, is set in 1943 during WWII. The Germans built a maximum security prisoner-of-war camp in hopes of putting all of the craftiest escape artists in one inescapable prison. Inadvertently they assembled the some of the greatest escape teams in military history who worked on one of the greatest prison escapes ever!
The Great Escape breaks free onto Blu-ray for the first time to celebrate it’s 50th Anniversary Edition from 20th Century Fox. As stated earlier, the film features a kick-ass cast that includes Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, James Donald, James Coburn, Charles Bronson, and Donald Pleasence, and is directed by John Sturges. Each one turning in a memorable performance, and in some cases my personal favorite of their career.
The realism displayed in The Great Escape is astounding. Of course there are many liberties taken to make the film palatable for audiences, but there are so many elements that add authenticity to the film. Filming in Germany was very helpful, and the prison camp was actually built to scale. If it had not been for The Magnificent Seven, this movie would not likely have been made.The scope of the film is even big by today’s standards, and had trouble getting finance until Magnificent Seven was released.
I love heist movies, where there are scenes that showed the planning phases before the big job. The Great Escape has some tightly crafted planning sequences that help propel the film along. During the middle of the film you start rooting for each of the character wanting them to succeed. This makes the escape sequences even cooler, and adds to the tension. The creativity and genius planning that went into the escape is pretty cool as well. There is such great attention to detail in the planning and execution tat make the entire film a joy to watch.
The Blu-ray comes fully loaded with over three hours of special features. Unfortunately they have all been ported over from the 2004 two-disc special edition DVD. I wish that they would have done some new features, but then again with a classic like this it is a bit hard to do a lot of new content content. It would have been cool to hear a new commentary of film luminaries to discuss this film.
Nonetheless, the features are as enjoyable as The Great Escape itself.
- Audio Commentary by Director John Sturges, Cast & Crew
- The Great Escape: Bringing Fact to Fiction
- The Great Escape: Preparations for Freedom
- The Great Escape: The Flight to Freedom
- The Great Escape: A Standing Ovation
- The Great Escape: The Untold Story
- The Great Escape: The Untold Story – Additional Interviews
- A Real Virgil Hilts: A Man Called Jones
- Return to The Great Escape
- Original Theatrical Trailer
The Great Escape is better than many classic WWII films like The Dirty Dozen, A Bridge Too Far and others. If you enjoy war movies and like history, this is the movie for you.