Un condamné à mort s'est échappé ou Le vent souffle où il veut (A Man Escaped) Reviews
The meticulous attention to detail, the suspenseful moments of silence, the final do or die moment. This movie had me attentive the whole time. And given the way that the whole movie builds up to the final escape scene, it was sure to hold my attention.
The plot is extremely basic, because once the stage is set it is all about our main character planning and organizing his escape method. There's a little time spent relating with other prisoners, but most of his time is all alone just working through things. The narration helped to keep it from getting too bland or boring, too bad it was in French so I was reading it instead of listening.
What I found most spectacular about A Man Escaped was the atmosphere and tone. I felt the claustrophobia, I experienced the fear of discovery with him, and I could barely breathe when he began to execute his plan. It's pretty remarkable because they never actually show any deaths or atrocities against the prisoners, but enough hints were given that I feared for the protagonist a lot. If there was a little more story there, I would really adore this movie, but it still was quite good.
Robert Bresson was a maverick; a man that doesn't want to follow the rules, but rather wants to redefine the rules.
Perhaps the best film about liberation, freedom from emprisonment, and the universal want for one's own life to matter beyond simply sustaining self. It's a chilling and deeply hopeful film about grace, hope, and perseverance.
The film sets itself apart by employing a spartan narrative that could alienate contemporary viewers, but it also could force a small percentage of them to contemplate just how much fat and fluff modern films possess (yes, I am looking at you Interstellar, but I could be looking to any of your overrated, overweight brothers).
The story is being told in a first person narration, where our hero, a condemned lieutenant of the French resistance, describes his simplistic everyday actions, as he awaits his impending execution. A lot of time is spent inside his solitary confinement cell, where our protagonist is looking for any tiny glimpse of hope; whether it is some form of communication with another fellow Frenchman, or even some way of escaping his sealed fate.
The simplicity of actions depicted, is shadowed by directional austerity; communication is kept to a minimum, always under the disembodied presence of the guards, always commanding the prisoners to cease talking. In general, the German's actions are kept out of the camera's focus, but are felt imperatively; the everyday handling of the cells' doors and the sudden machine gun fire, that signals that executions take place.
The film's impressive feat is that its plainness is gripping. I felt stifled by the inhuman prison conditions and found myself faithfully following long scenes of the protagonist's attempts to grasp at a plausible escape plan. Even when a desperate plan is concocted, preparations enhance the feeling of dread, since the day of execution is nigh, and the plan moves forward at a snail pace.
While I do not share the the critics' overt enthusiasm, this is a very entertaining film, in its own special way. I would recommend it for everyone who is able to watch something more than a multiplex blockbuster. 7.0/10.
A Man Escaped has a runtime of just 99 minutes, you might think that's a short runtime for a brilliant prison escape movie, it isn't, you know why, Bresson has not a single shot, not a single scene, not a single line of dialogue or narration to many or to little.
It shows what it needs to show to progress the plot, it doesnt show a fancy backstory or subplot, it doesn't have special effects, big movie stars, massive set pieces, no, it's a movie about a man and his escape and that is what Bresson shows, he uses 100% of the movie's runtime to tell the tale of the incredible escape, each scene is about the escape, there is not a single scene that's aberrant, everything that's shown is to make the escape even more detailed.
The movie is shot like you're Fontaine's companion in the escape, every scene of the movie is alongside him, it doesnt show the grand scale of the prison, the lives of the guards, the lives of other prisoners, you know why?
To tell the story from the perspective of the prisoner, Fontaine wouldn't know how the grand scale of the prison would look like, he's locked up and only let out for wash-up time in the morning, he wouldn't know about the lives of the guards or the other prisoners, he wouldn't know, so the audience wouldn't know either, that's how this movie is shot.
This creates an incredible tension because you're going along for the ride when Fontaine is escaping, he sees the route for the first time, and so are you, the viewer, you wouldn't know what is going to come because neither does Fontaine.
One of the most forgotten, best, and special movies ever made.