Widely regarded as the last Great War, the film portrays the humane treatment of enemy soldiers during World War I, while just existing can be an act of futility.
Although the characters are engaged in a pointless race to win battles, the film exudes honor, respect and gentlemen like behavior between the enemies.
Erich Von Stroheim is superb in his portrayal of the German officer. In an admirable way, he treats his enemy with respect, dignity, and trust. One of the best sequences in the film is the chase and ultimate shooting of the French officer - a duty that neither one of them can escape.
The French officer attempts to escape because that is what prisoners do. The German officer's duty is to then shoot the escapee. The sequence culminates in the most unexpected and beautiful way imaginable.
The cutting of the only flower in the prison symbolizes the evaporation of civilized understanding; Like a friendship, between colleagues, who become immobilized by their separate governments.
Left with the flowerless pot, the absence of beauty becomes a metaphor for the world of war. As exemplified by the main characters, the film is noble in its treatment of the horrific.
4 / 5
Director: Jean Renoir
Staring: Jean Gabin, Erich von Stroheim, Pierre Fresnay, Marcel Dalio