“A Man Escaped” remains one of cinema’s finest prison escape movies, telling the story of a member of the French Resistance imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp. When he receives a cellmate on the day he is sentenced to die, he much decide if he can trust the new prisoner as he plans his elaborate escape from the prison.
Based on a true story, Francois Leterrier portrays Andre Devigny, a French resistance fighter captured and imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp where thousands of people died during World War II. His story remains a memorable one, as someone who actually escaped and made his way to Switzerland. That is not really a spoiler, because the story is a true one and based on the memoirs of Devigny himself.
With the ending already known, the movie’s biggest praise is that Robert Bresson directs a movie that sweeps the viewer into the story and makes them forget that the prisoner can get out, making you worry for this man throughout the film. The entire focus is not as much on the elaborate escape, but about the life in which is lives in while he plans this escape. There is nothing here that is less than horrifying as he sees his death coming if he doesn’t succeed and the tension throughout is almost unbearable.
The first feature on the Criterion Collection release of “A Man Escaped” is “Bresson: Without a Trace.” This is a feature length look at Robert Bresson’s work on the film and comes from the 1965 television series “Cineastes de notre temps.” This features the first ever on-screen interview for the director and looks at every aspect of his work.
“The Road to Bresson” is another feature length documentary, this one looking at the overall career and style of Robert Bresson. In this, filmmakers Jurrien Rood and Leo de Boer talk to various people about Bresson, including masters such as Orson Welles, Andrei Tarkovsky and Louis Malle.
A third documentary, this one checking in at 46 minutes, is “The Essence of Forms.” This one is directed by Pierre-Henri Gilbert and interviews Leterrier, the actor who portrayed Devigny, as well as a number of filmmakers and crew members.
Finally, “Functions of Film Sound” is a 20-minute look at the film with a reading from the chapter of “Film Art” concerning the use of sound in the film.
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