The Great Escaper – REVIEW

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The Great Escaper

Our tenure as a maths question setter was brief coming to an immediate end when we proposed the question, ‘If Mrs Jones has 4 milk bottles on her door step and the following week she has 15 milk bottles on her door step …how long has she been dead?’ It’s little wonder then that The Great Escaper has pensioners Bernard Jordan (Michael Caine) and his frail wife Irene (Glenda Jackson) living together in a care home with 24/7 nurses and assistants. Bernard is a WWII veteran and with the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings and knowing that time is not on his side he determines to go there and pay his respects to his fallen friends.

On his own and ‘escaping’ from the care home before the nurses notice he takes the ferry across where he befriends a former RAF pilot Arthur (John Standing) where the pair, along with other veterans, make their pilgrimage to Normandy war cemetery. All the while the British press are in a frenzy as they run a story about locating The Great Escaper.

Based on a true story this has Caine, now 90 years old and looking every inch the frail pensioner and he re-teams with John Standing in their first film since 1976’s ‘The Eagle  has Landed’ , another WWII based film and their camaraderie on screen is  a reminder that many of our oldest actors have still got it. Like so many of us Bernard’s memory is triggered by sights and sounds that prompt flashbacks to his war time experience with an increasingly nervous and ultimately frightened young soldier as they prepare to land on the Normandy beaches and whatever is waiting there for them. It’s memories that any veteran understandably might have trouble processing and as Bernard tells Arthur, ‘Life is much more palatable when seen through a glass’ as he knocks back his glass of scotch. Rumoured to be Caine’s last film it was, alas, Glenda Jackson’s and there are some prophetic lines throughout this with Caine telling her, ‘Your health has not been great lately’ being one of several.

The Great Escaper is undoubtedly moving with a title that alludes not only to Bernard’s adventure but also that death too is an escape for both him and his wife as they see a world that they fought for subsumed with self interest and a lack of care, respect and concern for others personified by fanatical cyclists, the type who wear polyester clothing so snugly you can tell what religion they are. Not quite the tearjerker none the less The Great Escaper is a poignant reminder of those who made the final sacrifice

Related feature : Glenda Jackson obituary

Related feature : We chat to the legendary Ian Ogilvy about his new all star film, ‘Renegades’

Here’s The Great Escaper trailer…….

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