Pathfinder International editor, Mal Robinson reviews the new film, The Great Escaper – out October 6…

It’s not often you find yourself sitting in bed with an outpouring of emotions over a cup of tea at half past six in the morning. 

I am watching the forthcoming film from Director Oliver Parker and writer Billy Ivory, featuring screen icons Sir Michael Caine and Glenda Jackson- The Great Escaper – based on the heartwarming true story of Bernard Jordan, an 89-year World War II veteran who “escaped” a nursing home in order to attend the D-Day 70th anniversary commemorations in France in 2014. 

One would think, looking in from the outside in before settling down to watch the flick, that the movie may have overtures of a mad caper and a lighthearted feel to it and whilst some elements of the film do retain this notion in part, I was in for an emotional, yet positive shock in terms of realism of content and drama for the majority of the 1 hour 53 minutes of the film. 

And there are many layers and narratives within the main storyline, enough to tug on all the emotions but not too many as to confuse the whole thing. 

The film has a little bit of everything, laughter and tears, young and old veterans coming together in the story, superb acting (as expected from Caine and Jackson but also John Standing), punchy script from Billy Ivory and seamless film directing from Oliver Parker. 

The overriding messages from the film were of not wanting to waste a second of life, yet what a waste of lives the World Wars were. The ethos of not wanting to waste a moment, is perhaps personified in reality surrounding the film production, with the sad passing of Glenda Jackson months after the movie was completed, which made the entire project even more poignant. 

Perhaps something even more poignant and the final overriding theme for me was the fact that you may be able to escape and live life to the full, yet no one escapes old age. 

Stand out moments for me, in what was a standout film overall, included the moment Bernard (Michael Caine) meets German Veterans in a pub in France, with both parties allowing time for reflection and respect in equal measure, the storyline of Bernard’s personal loss on the beaches at Normandy (coupled with the storyline of John Standing and his own personal loss and consequences since) and again highlighting the waste of lives from the conflicts. And of course the scene near the end, where whilst not trying to give too much away, Bernard (Caine) and Irene (Jackson) finally chat about their inner demons in post war years. 

It is an inspiring tale on many fronts for the would be movie goer in general, yet elevated still for the forces community, with many from a military background – old and new – able to connect to the sentiment and subjects The Great Escaper confronts and overcomes. 

It takes a good film to make you walk away after the film credits have ceased and reflect and consider your own life and how not to waste it and that’s what we have with Parker and Ivory’s masterpiece. 

I can guarantee for sure, that the 1 hour and 53 minutes running time will not waste a second of your life. 

The Great Escaper is due for release on October 6. 

See the full coverage of the movie in the September 2023 issue of Pathfinder International.