Movie Review: The Great Escape (1963)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1963 movie starring Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson.

Synopsis: In 1943, escaped Allied prisoners of war are recaptured by the Germans and brought a new high-security POW camp that is designed to be escape proof. The prisoners immediately begin to make plans to dig their way out of the camp. However, escaping will require a great deal of ingenuity and months of work and deception.
The movie is based on real events.


I have known about this particular movie for some time but, other than a few minutes of it, had never actually taken the time to watch it. However, I saw it was only going to be on Netflix for a few more days and decided to finally see what I was missing. And, as it turns out, this was a very good movie.

When I started watching this film, I figured it was going to be relatively predictable. Then, when the prisoners began spelling out how they intended on escaping, I was pretty confident I was right about it being predictable. However, as I continued to watch the movie, I realized that was definitely not the case.

The thing I found I really liked about this film was the variety of obstacles that were thrown in. This included a tunnel digger (Bronson) who was claustrophobic, a prison camp commandant (Messemer) who was very intelligent, suspicious and determined to prevent escapes and a variety of other twists that continued to pop up and jeopardize their mission.

Adding to the overall film was the way it manages to give the viewer a pretty decent insight into each of the main characters. You learn a lot about them as they interact with each other and, by the end of the movie, some of the negative surprises (I won't go into detail to avoid giving a spoiler) do have an emotional effect. And, the best part of this was the movie managed to do all of this without bogging things down with a bunch of detailed back stories.

As I mentioned, the ending does have a bunch of surprises (many of which are not happy ones) and, because of that, if you do decide to watch this film, I highly recommend waiting to read up on the real escape attempt until after you see it since, with the exception of the normal differences you would expect to see from a Hollywood film, the movie, from what I can tell, is a relatively accurate re-telling of the real event.

Final Opinion

This was, in all honesty, a movie that surprised me. It put its all-star cast to good use and, largely because of the fact it wasn't as predictable as I was expecting it to be, was an entertaining movie to watch. If you haven't seen it, I recommend it.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 11/20/2015, StevenHelmer
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