The Elusive Corporal
(Le Caporal épinglé)

Screening on Film
Directed by Jean Renoir.
With Jean-Pierre Cassel, Claude Brasseur, Claude Rich.
France, 1962, 35mm, black & white, 105 min.
French & German with English subtitles.
Print source: Institut Français

Renoir’s last feature film, The Elusive Corporal bears a superficial resemblance to Grand Illusion: it is about French soldiers attempting to escape from a German prison camp, but this time the setting is World War II. If Grand Illusion is about the death of the aristocracy, The Elusive Corporal is about a world without chivalry. Although Renoir decided that this was his saddest film, the episodic narrative mixes humor and drama, culminating in an ending not only leavened with moments of sacrifice and grace, but also some of the filmmaker’s joy in the Dionysian chaos at the heart of human existence.

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