****/**** Image A Sound A- Extras B+
starring Jean Gabin, Dita Parlo, Pierre Fresnay, Marcel Dalio
screenplay by Jean Renoir and Charles Spaak
directed by Jean Renoir
by Bryant Frazer If you watch it cold, the opening scenes of La Grande Illusion (hereafter Grand Illusion) make for a confounding experience. The film opens in a French canteen, equipped with bar and phonograph player, where an aristocratic captain calls a working-class lieutenant to accompany him on a routine reconnaissance mission. One short dissolve later, without even the narrative pleasantry of a stock-footage flight over enemy territory, we're in a German canteen, equipped with bar and phonograph player, where an aristocratic captain announces that he's shot down an enemy plane. Another fade-out, and the Frenchmen are quickly welcomed at the German dinner table. The German captain even apologizes for the French lieutenant's broken arm.