Poster for A Man Escaped

A Man Escaped

1956, Action, 1h 42m

40 Reviews 5,000+ Ratings

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critics consensus

A Man Escaped is blockbuster Bresson, a well-acted POW drama that builds with subtle, seat-gripping tension. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

In a film based on the writings of French Resistance fighter and POW André Devigny, Fontaine (François Leterrier) is being held by the Nazis at Fort Montluc. When he gets word that he's scheduled for execution, Fontaine channels his energy into hatching a plan to break out. His plan is interrupted when he is assigned a new roommate. Fontaine grudgingly brings the newcomer in on the escape effort, which involves homespun weapons and an intricate knowledge of the layout of the prison itself.

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Critic Reviews for A Man Escaped

Audience Reviews for A Man Escaped

  • Jun 23, 2018
    Director Robert Bresson's 'A Man Escaped' is the real-life story of André Devigny, a member of the French Resistance sent to Montluc prison by the Nazis, and is true to history. The style is stark and minimalistic, and while that doesn't necessarily make it dated, I suspect it had much larger impact in 1956, just a decade after the war, than it does today (artistically and emotionally). There are moments of real tension, starting with when the protagonist gets another prisoner assigned to his cell and wonders how to proceed with his escape plans, one option being to kill him. There are unfortunately also moments of tedium. Bresson is honest to the experience of imprisonment, but that doesn't make for riveting viewing. The Nazi guards seem remarkably absent - we see them at times administering punishment briefly, or bringing food, but they are in the background, and if the film wasn't based on a true story, you might think it unrealistically so. That may be part of the point, that there is an interior battle here, to never surrender hoping, to not give in, and to be brave, but when it's combined with under-stated emotion from the actors, I think it takes away from the realism that Bresson was striving for. I wish the ending could have been expanded upon as well. A solid film, but not one I'd want to watch again, or recommend without reservations.
    Super Reviewer
  • Mar 03, 2017
    Bresson is not interested in big emotions or catharsis (he doesn't even mind telling us the end of the film in the title) but rather drawn to details and method, and so he crafts a meticulous and tremendously absorbing classic that depicts each step taken by the protagonist to reach his objective.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 13, 2017
    A flawless, precision-tooled masterpiece, where every frame works perfectly. Unsentimental but profound and moving, it is suspenseful as any classsic Hitchcock, gripping from start to finish. I can see why it is sometimes sighted as one of the greatest films of all time.
    Super Reviewer
  • Sep 06, 2011
    As a realistic, breathtaking, influential and heart-pounding recount of a true POW story, it is a shining triumph. Bresson's style of constantly moving from one relevant event to another and letting images speak while assigning a great importance to silences and facial expressions confirms the truth hidden in the phrase "in simplicity lies complexity". Your complaint is that the title sells away the ending, right? Bresson has never cared about the outcomes; instead, his humanity testaments focus on the struggle of life itself given a set of circumstances. That's why he's misunderstood: not all people have fought in their lives even once. 98/100
    Super Reviewer

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