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The Colditz Story on DVD Featured

Monday, 31 December 2012 08:55
Posted in Blu-Ray
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The Colditz Story on Blu-ray and DVD“The Colditz Story” is typical of its 1955 vintage. War films of this time were full of British pluck and heroics. Despite facing incarceration in the German Armies supposedly securest prisoner of war camp, our heroes keep a ‘stiff upper lip’ and carry on with their aim – escape. “The Colditz Story” is based on Major Pat Reid’s book of the same name, and he acts as a technical adviser for the film. There are inaccuracies between the book and the film, but only in the name of poetic licence - a lot of the action did happen more or less as portrayed.

Seeing this film now, one can only be bemused at the blatant lack of truthfulness in the portrayal of the conditions the POWs endured. Even in the accompanying special feature, a very interesting documentary about Colditz, the survivors are quick to point out just how bad the conditions were. But films of this time all seem to be a little sugar-coated. The population were probably not ready to be reminded of the harsh realities of war, but instead wanted to be roused and reminded we won.

We begin our time in Colditz as Major Reid (John Mills) and McGill (Christopher Rhodes) are marched into Colditz Castle. An imposing fortification stood atop an outcrop of rock in the town of Colditz near Dresden. They are locked in a room with two other British officers, Harry Tyler (Lionel Jeffries) and Jimmy Winslow (Bryan Forbes).

The other POWs are made up of several allied nationalities including a group of Polish men who are very quick to introduce themselves by simply picking the lock of the British men’s door. It is apparent that although well staffed by German guards the POWs are able to pull the wool over their eyes often enough for attempted escapes to be an everyday occurrence.

When more prisoners are brought to Colditz it becomes clear that each group is making its own plans to get a ‘home run’ (a man safely away from Colditz and back home to their own country). This causes problems as each escape attempt seems to interfere with another.

The prison Commandant makes it clear to the new arrivals that if they are caught escaping they will be severely punished. But it is every POWs’ duty to escape and return home to continue to fight for his country.

With more and more escapes being planned and foiled by the German guards the British leader, Colonel Richmond (Eric Portman), calls a meeting of each nationalities leader. They create ‘Escape Officers’ who co-ordinate with one another so that escape attempts are not unwittingly scuppered by another group.

And so more and more ingenious attempts are made, from hiding under a pile of leaves in the exercise area to sewing up an officer within a mattress. Most of the officers are recaptured and returned to Colditz where they are put in solitary confinement, which is overcrowded with other potential escapees.

Will any of the British officers make that elusive ‘home run’?

The film is entertaining, and of its time. Try not to compare it to its modern day counterparts. Any fan of proper, British War films should own this one.

Extras include the above mentioned documentary, “Colditz Revealed”, and clips of the film showing the restoration, with before and after shots.

“The Colditz Story” is out now courtesy of StudioCanal, has a running time of 95 minutes approx, and carries a ‘U’ certificate. The Blu-ray retails at £19.99, the DVD at £15.99, or get either for  less at www.culttvstore.com

 

Last modified on Monday, 31 December 2012 09:02

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