The anti-war film Goebbels feared

The Nazi propagandist called it ‘cinematic public enemy No 1’. But the Allies disliked Grand Illusion too. It’s still powerful, says Christian Blauvelt.

Grand Illusion is routinely called ‘one of the greatest movies ever made’. A powerful anti-war film about French soldiers who are prisoners in a German camp during World War One, the film’s director Jean Renoir wanted to show that there really wasn’t much difference between the two sides.

But the film was released in 1937, as another war was just on the horizon. The Nazis promptly banned Grand Illusion for its pacifism. As it became clear that World War Two was inevitable, the French government did the same - the film’s message that national boundaries are illusions wasn’t conducive to a fighting spirit.

Grand Illusion is now celebrating its 80th anniversary. To commemorate the occasion, BBC Culture’s Christian Blauvelt looks at how the film’s call for a borderless world is still relevant today. Watch the video above to find out more.

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