“A Man Escaped” is a French black and white film directed by Robert Bresson and released in 1956. It is the true story of a member of the French Resistance who was captured by the Germans in WWII. The main character Fontaine (Francois Leterrier) is based on Andre Devigny who was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to the inescapable Montluc Prison. 7,000 men died at this prison.
In the movie, Fontaine is arrested when he tries to escape in a car and he is beaten and thrown into a cell at the prison. He discovers that with the help of a purloined spoon he can loosen some of the door panels and get into the corridor to make contact with the other inmates. The prison has a shocking lack of security. Colonel Klink ran a stricter prison camp. The cells are never searched even though the authorities threaten it. Fontaine gets a package which allows him to make ropes and he hatches a plan to climb out of the prison. This becomes an absolute necessity when he is condemned to execution. To complicate matters, a German deserter is thrown into his cell. The dilemma is whether he should trust this young man named Jost (Charles La Clainche). He decides to take him along.
“A Man Escaped” is a highly regarded movie. It was shown at Cannes. It got good reviews. It is historically accurate in portraying Devigny’s experiences. The movie does simplify a bit as he made numerous escape attempts with the subsequent tortures. Some of the tortures were by the infamous Klaus Barbie. The escape itself is very close to the actual escape. That may be part of the problem. The movie is lacking in suspense and has long stretches of boredom. Surprisingly, the treatment depicted is not very harsh. You certainly do not get the impression that 7,000 men died in the prison. The acting is okay with Leterrier solid in the main role. The soundtrack stands out because it uses Mozart.
“A Man Escaped” is overrated. Devigny deserved a movie and the movie does a good job as a documentary, but it is just too slow moving for me. And I think the same would be said by most war movie lovers.
Grade = D