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  • Writer's pictureEugene

The Great Escaper (2023)

There were early signs that Oliver Parker’s 2023 film would be a sell-out for us at RCC. No surprise when the stars were the iconic Michael Caine and Glenda Jackson, in her final film.  A lovely lady sat next to me once had Glenda Jackson as a neighbour in Blackheath, although they had never met.


The audience went home with tears in their eyes, leaving a few of us left to share a few thoughts about our favourite scenes, director Oliver Parker’s skills and our reflections on old age, the Second World War and women’s role in our victory over the Nazis. One of our discussion group had visited war cemeteries in Normandy and said what an powerful experience it was.


Although the film touched us, Oliver Parker hadn’t over-sentimentalised the familiar story of Bernard Jordan’s escape from a Hove care home to attend the D Day 70th anniversary events in Normandy. Hard reality was there in the depiction of old age and the dependence on carers and pills. Danielle Vitalis, as the young carer, really impressed.


The film also explored the psychological scars of war and the loss of loved ones. Bernard is shown in the Bayeux cemetery in Normandy, declaring “What a waste!” as the camera zooms out to show rows of headstones.  The continuing impact of war on veterans was poignant and food for thought. We meet Bernard’s new friend, a veteran RAF pilot (John Standing) struggling with painful memories and loss, using alcohol to mask the pain.


There were plenty of messages about reconciliation and these were mirrored in one short, when a German and British veteran met together at a reunion and declared themselves brothers. 


I remembered my Uncle Lou, who died at 95, a Normandy landing veteran with a Legion D’Honneur certificate, who always attended reunions. Determined and proud, he managed to live independently until the very end.  



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