There’s hardly a shot fired but ‘Le Grande Illusion’, by Renoir, is one of the most complex war films I’ve seen. Catch it now at the BFI on the south bank.
The story focuses on a group of French prisoners of war, all from different social backgrounds and military branches. Some enlisted out of duty, others want adventure, others are looking for meaning. One classic exchange occurs between a French and German officer when they realise they have both known the same night club dancer in London. Can’t say that ever happened to me in Iraq. ”May the dirt lay gently on the graves of our enemies,” prays a German commander. All in the room respond with, “amen.”