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Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (31 votes)

Released: 2013-03-26

A Man Escaped (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] by Criterion Collection

A Man Escaped (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

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Robert Bresson
Criterion Collection

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With the simplest of concepts and sparest of techniques, Robert Bresson (Au hasard Balthazar) made one of the most suspenseful jailbreak films of all time in A Man Escaped. Based on the memoirs of an imprisoned French resistance leader, this unbelievably taut and methodical marvel follows the fictional Fontaine’s single-minded pursuit of freedom, detailing the planning and carrying out of his escape with gripping precision. But Bresson’s film is not merely process-minded—it’s a work of intense spirituality and humanity.


  • Francois Leterrier


  • Black & White
  • NTSC
  • Subtitled

Editorial Review

“This story is true,” reads the opening statement of A Man Escaped. “I give it as it is, without embellishment.” Based on the memoir by Andre Devigny, a member of the French Resistance imprisoned and sentenced to death by the Gestapo during the German occupation, Bresson (himself at one time a German POW) transforms Devigny's daring escape into an ascetic film of documentary detail. Kept in a tiny stone cell with a high window and a thick wooden door, the prisoner (renamed Fontaine in the film) makes himself intimate with his world–every surface of his room, every sound reverberating through the hall, and every detail of the prison's layout that he can absorb in brief sojourns from his cell. Bresson magnifies every detail with insistent close-ups and detailed examinations of every step of Fontaine's plan, from constructing and hiding ropes and hooks to painstakingly carving out an exit in the heavy cell door, and provides a sort of Greek chorus of fellow prisoners. This is Bresson's first film to feature a completely nonprofessional cast drilled to master precise movements and deliver lines without dramatic inflection. The effect is a drama where the slightest gesture carries the weight of a confession. Bresson's films are not for everybody, and this austere picture hardly carries the visceral punch of The Great Escape, but it's a drama of profound power, with a gripping climax that's as absorbing and tense as any high-energy action film. –Sean Axmaker

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