I decided, despite my increasing temperature and decreasing health, to tackle the nearly three hour marathon that is The Great Escape. This Steve McQueen epic is a staple of late night television, so I was familiar with bits and pieces of the movie, but I had never sat down to watch the entire movie. And its 172 minute length had kept it on the table and out of my DVD player for quite some time. But we got the girls to bed early, so I decided to try it out.
And I'm glad I did. This prisoner of war epic was truly a blast to watch. My ill health meant the ending couldn't come fast enough, though, so I'm afraid I can't really do it justice. I wonder if some better editing couldn't have trimmed some time off, but, for the most part, it was time well spent. 76 of a planned 250 made it out of the wire, and only three of those made it to freedom. Fifty were murdered in cold blood by the Germans after capture, resulting in the execution of 14 Germans after the war.
So a pretty sad and tragic episode is made into a movie highlighting the struggles of the POWs to tunnel their way to freedom. McQueen keeps getting captured and thrown into the cooler, where he occupies his time planning his next escape. The others spend their time digging three tunnels, trying to reach outside the fences and to the forest. They come up 20 feet short, which is one reason only a small fraction of the planned 250 actually escape. The iconic motorcycle escape scene, added at the insistence of Steve McQueen, provide some real thrills.
A good movie marred by a bizarre display. The DVD I had showed the movie as a 16:9 picture, but much smaller than my TV, surrounded by black. I'm not sure exactly what was going on here, but it sure looked weird and detracted mightily from the experience, as did the stereo soundtrack. But it was nice to finally see this movie from start to finish.