This was one of those films that I went to see with my wife. We had a nice lunch and went for an afternoon showing. Before going we had imagined it was going to be along the same lines as The Last Bus or The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry. To be honest, I had seen them linked as some sort of unofficial trilogy. There are some similarities in that the main character is a determined older man and the timeline switches between the present day and an earlier time. But the big difference with The Great Escaper is that it is a true story.
In June 2014, there was a 70th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day landings. By this time, obviously, any surviving participants are going to be in their mid to late eighties if not older. There will be organised trips but to get on one of those you need to apply through something like the British Legion or some other ex-servicemen’s organisation. Unfortunately, Bernie Jordan (Michael Caine with Will Fletcher as young Bernie) has not managed to get his application in on time. However, he lives in Hove on England’s South coast and isn’t that far from where the ferries are leaving from…
We Have Never Wasted One Second…
With the knowledge and complicity of his wife Rene (Glenda Jackson with Laura Marcus as young Rene) Bernie sets off without telling any of their care home staff. He gets to the port and gets on the ferry where he is just swept up by the throngs of veterans; both of the D-Day landings and more recent conflicts. He is helped onto the boat by Scott (Victor Oshin) who lost a leg when he stood on a land mine in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Bernie meets up with a group of veterans of his own age and meets Arthur (John Standing) who pulls him into the group and offers to share his hotel room with him.
The Great Escaper was a heartwarming and entertaining film for many reasons. It was an uplifting story of the resilience and resourcefulness of the diminishing cadre of World War II survivors. It also showed the camaraderie and comradeship of people who have shared experiences; in this case serving in the military. There is also humour. Mainly in the way that Rene winds up the care staff, particularly Adele (Danielle Vitalis), but there are more laugh out load moments than I expected. The battle scenes were engrossing and the flash backs were done tastefully.
…Of Our Time Together
The obvious leads were Michael Caine and Glenda Jackson. They were reunited after nearly fifty years; they had previously appeared together in 1975’s The Romantic Englishwoman. Sadly, The Great Escaper is the last film of Ms Jackson’s. She did manage to see the finished film as there was a special screening organised for the two stars by the director, Oliver Parker before dying on 15th June 2023. Despite being from opposite ends of the political spectrum, Glenda was a Labour MP for over twenty years while Michael has been a life long Conservative, they got along well and definitely looked like life long lovers on the screen. Michael Caine did say that this would be his last film due to mobility problems but that seems to have been quashed by reports of a film based on the life of Charles Darwin being in the pipeline.
Other notable faces on show were David Standing, who plays Bernie’s new found RAF friend Arthur, and Wolf Kahler as Heinrich. All three men had appeared together in 1976’s The Eagle Has Landed: Wolf Kahler only had an uncredited role but he was there! Mr Kahler is much better known as one of the three chaps who come to a most unpleasant end when they open the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Apparently, Michael Caine only agreed to the role if a part was found for David Standing. I’m rather glad that he did as the three men share a very touching scene when they realise that they were fighting on land, sea, and air on the same beach at the same time.
Movie Grade: A+
Each Peetime is pretty equal. Perhaps the 2nd one is best, only because it’s slightly longer than the others.
|Starring:||Michael Caine, Glenda Jackson, Wolf Kahler|
|Country:||United Kingdom, United States|
Bernard Jordan escapes from his care home to attend the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings in France.
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Former teacher, lecturer, homelessness administrator, pharmacy dispenser now happily retired, happily married, and a very happy granddad. I live next to the Mersey but on the side Daniel Craig and Taron Egerton come from rather than the side the Beatles came from!