The Grand Illusion, 1937
La Grande Illusion, as originally released, is widely regarded as a masterpiece of French cinema and is typically cited as one of the great films of world cinema. The story explores class relationships among a small group of French officers who are prisoners of war during World War I and plot to escape. The lead characters are two French aviators shot down by a German pilot and aristocrat, played by Erich von Stroheim. The French pilots meet their German foe after being captured and discover they have mutual acquaintances, revealing familiarity within the upper classes that crossed national boundaries. The film depicts the decline of the European world of privilege caused by the war and the complex and divergent reactions to the passing of the old order.
Free tickets to the The Grand Illusion screening at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, can be requested using the form below.
This film will also be shown at the same time at the Museum in Washington, DC. Reserve tickets to the Grand Illusion screening in Washington, DC.
About the Film Series
Movies have always shaped our cultural memory of historical events, and World War I has been a rich subject for filmmakers. Hollywood Goes to War: World War I on the Big Screen, a year-long film series, presents the most visually striking and engaging dramas set during the First World War ever made. Once a month, join us as we screen Hollywood’s finest feature films on World War I and explore how the war and its far-reaching effects have been represented and interpreted on the big screen.
This film series is part of the National Air and Space Museum’s observance of the hundredth anniversary of the First World War.