Caught. Wedged on the back seat of a speeding car. Three men. Two handcuffed, one not. Maybe not enough cuffs to go around? He’s by the door. The door handle beacons. Should he make a run for it? He’s likely to be killed anyway, whatever he does. He’d chance it, go for it. No! the car is travelling too fast. At the traffic lights he’d make a break for freedom. The car speeds through. His hand taps the door handle. A tram is coming. Now’s his chance!
Beaten, imprisoned and locked away with many men. Interrogation awaits. This was Montluc prison. A place of despair and brutally. Nazi Germany had invaded France and pockets of resistance fighters kept chipping away at their captors. If they were caught they were brought here. A home to the Gestapo. Tortured, interrogated, broken and shot. Firing squads were heard on a daily basis but never seen. Death wasn’t far, spirits are crushed. No talking! The German soldiers are always there, always watching. The men need a purpose, to keep their low morale alive. Just a pencil would do for now. It’s a start.
Lieutenant Fontaine (François Leterrier) was a captured French resistance fighter. Now handcuffed in his tiny cell, 24 hours a day. What he needs is a safety pin. A little win! Now Fontaine can focus a goal in his mind. Escape. He’d play the long game, he knew it wouldn’t be easy, maybe impossible? No, don’t think that, keep that determination. Ambition and hope. It would take time. He had time, well until he was shot! He had to escape. It would keep him busy and active. The fear and paranoia was always there, around every single corner. It fed him. He was cool under pressure. The adrenaline kept him alert and focused. He had a plan. All he needed now was a…… spoon!
A Man Escaped is directed and written by Robert Bresson. Himself, I read, spent time in prison as a member of the French Resistance.
Robert Bresson won the Best Director Award at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival.
You can read a very informative article, obituary of Robert Bresson in the Guardian from 1999 with his passing at the grand age of 98.
François Leterrier didn’t really acted again after giving such a sublime performance but strangely he’d go off to directed Emmanuelle 3! Say whaaaat?
The film is based on the memoirs of André Devigny a school teacher who’d joined the French Army at the outbreak of the Second World War. Later, as France fell, he’d helped the British Special Operations Executive whilst joining the fight with his French Resistance brothers-in-arms. Unfortunately, later getting caught by the Gestapo and sent to Montluc prison. Only to be tortured by the infamous Butcher of Lyon!
A link to André Devigny wikipedia page where you can read some historical facts about the brave man. And here’s a photo of him.
A Man Escaped is a captivating and mesmerising story. It’s painstaking execution keeps you completely immersed in the danger, the heroics and the dread. It’s breathtaking and claustrophobic. The dialogue is kept to a bare minimum but still you feel for every expression caught in a glance or sorrowful, blank look. The German soldiers are rarely focused on, just their presence is enough to command fear. The firing squads are not seen yet it doesn’t make them any less terrifying. A Man Escaped is incredible and very thought provoking in it’s manner. I would say it’s truly essential viewing.
Have you seen this one? I’ve seen Robert Bresson’s fantastic Pickpocket which I really enjoyed. Feel free to recommend any other of his works if you wish and let me know what you thought of A Man Escaped.
Thanks for popping in on the wolf lair. All the best and keep watching those screens. Mikey
Standing nervously in the dark of a small cheap bed and breakfast. A haven for now. He knew he wouldn’t have the appetite for the breakfast and he certainly wouldn’t sleep a wink. He paced the room. The streetlights casting shadows across the room. Dreadful images constantly twisted in his mind. Thoughts of what he planned to do consumed his soul. He wasn’t a bad man but he knew his name would go down in the history books as an evil harbinger of death! Continue reading “Seven Days to Noon (1950) How Far Would You Go To Save Mankind?”→
Before Jack Carter (Michael Caine) swaggered around the north brandishing a shotgun with his tackle hanging out. There had been another! Michael Marler (Nicol Williamson) preceded the London bad boy as the returning prodigal son. Both had family deaths to revenge and women to bed. Jack speeds around in his humble Ford Cortina in Newcastle upon Tyne whilst Michael rockets to Liverpool in his posh Jaguar. Jack was a gangster. Michael is a cutthroat businessman. Both had payback on their minds. Continue reading “The Reckoning (1970) Marler Raced Up North For Revenge Before Get Carter”→
After falling asleep on a bench, I stagger home. Science fiction mission completed. Shaking the space dust from my fur as I pack my trusty spacesuit away. Clamber into my hammock with a giant glass of Long Island Iced Tea. Yep, it’s got an umbrella and a slice of lemon. Dressing gown and slippers, check! Time to chill. I grab the notepad off the sideboard. OK let’s look at this years “to watch list!” It’s monstrous. Haha Continue reading “What To Expect This Year. A little Delve Into The Notebook”→
Science fiction often finds the ability to tackle prejudice and racial discrimination through the medium of film. Brother From Another Planet tackled many race and slavery issues, District 9 had the theme of apartheid running throughout. Racial segregation swapped to species segregation. Even the X-Men series touched on prejudice with the oppression of mutants. It runs through many story lines from film to television and on the whole is played out thoughtfully with a deep underlying message. One of my favourite genres that tackles racist behaviour has been with the classic buddy movie trope. Like Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis battling it out in 1958s The Defiant Ones but lets flip it into space or something. Continue reading “Enemy Mine (1985) The Defiant Ones Battle It Out Like Hell In The Pacific”→
The future is here. Eugenics will change the world! No more lottery on your unborn baby having some form of deformity, however minor. Or even lets say, a lesser intelligence! Why would you take a gamble on your child’s future? Why not have some genetic selection cross referenced to ensure the best quality hereditary traits are met. Why roll the dice with a high percentage of heart disease when a little tweaking of the DNA code could almost guarantee a piston like pump into old age. To be able to eradicate certain unthinkable horrific life changing disorders like Motor Neurone Disease before a child is even born. But wait! Then no Stephen Hawking or at least a different Stephen Hawking. Yeah I know, that is an extreme case. Continue reading “Gattaca (1997) Only Genetic Perfection To Fly To The Stars”→
Oh I do love a good dystopian future portrayed in film. THX 1138 is one of my all time favourites. Having caught it sometime in the late 80’s. Randomly switching the telly on after returning from a night on the tiles. Oblivious to its director being that bearded guy who blew my mind with his spectacular space romp as a kid. Just sat, fuzzy headed on the sofa. Transfixed by this white claustrophobic contained city! What the hell was I watching? No internet to search out what this film with the baldies was. Lucky I did know two of the actors. Still it was some years before I got to watch it again and discover it was directed by George Lucas. Continue reading “THX 1138 (1971) George Orwell Lucas Science Fiction Dystopian Future”→