A Man Escaped

Directed by Robert Bresson, A Man Escaped is a masterpiece of minimalist cinema. The action is set in the claustrophobic confines of the Montluc Nazi prison camp, where 7000 men were executed during World War II.

Through Bresson’s characteristically ascetic style, we are drawn into the narrative of one prisoner as he patiently and persistently engineers his escape. Despite its foregone conclusion, the plot is taut with tension.

The film sits somewhere between memoir and autobiography – Bresson himself spent 18 months in a Nazi prison and based A Man Escaped on the account of André Devigny, a French Resistance fighter who broke out of Montluc in 1943. 

The lead is played by François Leterrier, a then-unknown who was discovered by Bresson in Morocco while he was completing his French military service. After this introduction to the industry, Leterrier went on to become a director in his own right.

 

 

Described as a film whose “spiritual realism was controlled to the minutest detail”, A Man Escaped is a testament to human trust and tenacity. With a steadfast singularity of purpose, Fontaine must weigh his desire for freedom against the brutal pragmatism his situation demands.

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