“A Man Escaped” (1956)

A Man Escaped (Un condamné à mort s’est échappé) is a French film directed by the great director Robert Bresson which belongs to the historical sub-genre. The movie is inspired by the autobiography of André Devigny, a war resister imprisoned in the Montluc Prison at Lyon in France in 1943, during WWII. His book describes his incredible escape.

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Lieutenant Fontaine (François Leterrier) in his cell

This film is more absorbing than any action movie of today. As in R (Danish film directed by Tobias Lindholm and Michael Noer), the camera follows the actor for all of his movements. All the story is told according to his own perspective. For example, the executions are only suggested, we hear it from his cell, which is even more terrifying…

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A Man Escaped is a beautiful and poetic film about a young man named Lieutenant Fontaine who keeps hope by means of hoping to be free one day. The character is animated by this sole hope. To get his freedom, he tries to escape by all means. Every night, the prisoner progresses putting his escape plan into effect. After each night we are impatient to be at the next for continuing the escape.

There is a real tension until the climax, when he is escaping, which is the most highest tension part of the film. We can’t stop thinking “Oh my god, is he going to success his escape?”, “I hope no German soldier will detect him!” or “Yes, that’s right, keep going. In silence”.

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Robert Bresson’s film is a very poetic and realistic movie which is can watched like a “Useful guide to escape out of prison”. A Man Escaped didn’t age, the intensity and the force of the story are steal here. What a masterpiece this film is…

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A Man Escaped (1956)
Director: Robert Bresson
Writer: Robert Bresson and André Devigny
Starring: François Leterrier, Charles Le Clainche, Maurice Beerblock, Roland Monod, Jacques Ertaud…
Running time: 1h35
Genre: Historical


Montluc Prison

A Man Escaped takes place and was shot at the Prison Montluc in Lyon, in the South East of France. Built in 1921 for use as a military prison, after the invasion of the unoccupied zone of Vichy France in November 1942, the Gestapo used it at a prison, interrogation centre and internment camp for those waiting for transfer to concentration camps. It is estimated that over 15 000 people were imprisoned in Montluc, and over 900 of them were executed within it…

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Montluc was liberated on 24 August 1944 by the French resistance in the middle of chaos in Lyon. In 1947, Montluc became a civil prison once again, finally closing in 1997, though the female maison d’arrêt was not closed until May 2009.

In 2009, most of the prison were classified as a monument historique. Since September 2010 the prison has been open to the public.

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A shot of A Man Escaped

During the summer 2016, I had the occasion to visit it. It was very impressive because there were no other visitors and almost all the prison can be visited. All the cells are open, we can visit one of them. The place is like frozen in the past. It was very chilling to imagine the “life” here, the fear of being executed…

There were to places to visit that I had not the time finish the visit. That prison is a very “good” testimonial to show the horror of the Occupation and the misery that the victims could suffer…

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