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#115. Escape!

Have you ever just wanted to get away from it all? Just jump on a plane and go far away? Well, what if you’re trapped in a war camp? You obviously can’t just walk out the front door and not come back, since there’s probably a reason you’re being held there. Any type of prison usually induces some ideas of escape from its tenants. And why wouldn’t it? Living conditions in these institutions aren’t necessarily ideal and the fact of the matter is that most people who are trapped in these situations are likely to die while in the confines of razor-wire fences. Of course, it’s never easy to escape. Security measures are put in place to prevent such activities, so an escape is certainly a challenge. This week’s two films look at some great escapes where the main characters literally fly the coop.

Chicken RunChicken Run
Year: 2000
Rating: G
Length: 84 minutes / 1.4 hours

If there’s anything that animation is good at, it’s anthropomorphising animals in such a way that we can relate to their plights. I doubt many of us ever consider what happens on a farm, let alone from the perspective of the animals. While many human activist groups stage protests on behalf of mistreated and oppressed animals, it’s always more interesting to see animals rise up and fight for their own justice. When we see the world through their eyes, a simple egg harvesting operation ends up looking more like a gulag than a business. Fortunately, since it is animated, the tone is generally lighter than other war-camp type movies, even though the main thrust of the conflict still remains. Of course, it also means that chickens have lips and teeth, which is a little weird.

When one chicken by the name of Ginger (Julie Sawalha) has the talent to escape from the farm of Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy, the only reason she doesn’t is that she wants to escape with her friends. Unfortunately, it’s easier for one chicken to escape, but incredibly difficult for many to fly the coop at the same time. This is partly due to the lack of skill and motivation from the others, but soon all that changes when an American rooster by the name of Rocky (Mel Gibson) falls from the sky and into the fenced farmyard. Rocky, as it turns out, is injured and wants to escape the farm just as much as Ginger does. As such, he is able to rally the troops with his stories of the outside and soon everyone is going full tilt toward a new plan to escape: flying to their freedom.

The Great EscapeThe Great Escape
Year: 1963
Rating: Not Rated
Length: 172 minutes / 2.86 hours

Probably the most iconic escape movie of all time, The Great Escape has given us a lot of great moments. Whether it’s whittling away the time in the cooler or the memorable score by Elmer Bernstein, this film has been referenced a multitude of times since its release. In fact, the aforementioned Chicken Run is incredibly similar to the plot of this World War II POW adventure. However, unlike the Pacific theater film of similar content, The Bridge on the River Kwai, there is no agreements or working with their captors here. To a greater point, while very few people truly escaped in The Bridge on the River Kwai, there were a surprising amount of prisoners who managed to get outside the confines of their Nazi-controlled prison. And yet, just getting past the guards is only half the battle.

The trick with Prisoner of War camps is that everyone who has been captured has military experience. You’re not dealing with your run of the mill criminals here, and they’re being held only for the fact that they’re fighting for the other side. As such, the Nazis think they have created an escape-proof POW camp and have put many of their troublemaker prisoners inside. Unfortunately, when you get that many escape artists together, they’re bound to think of a plan. When Hilts (Steve McQueen) is brought to the camp, he quickly gains the reputation of “the Cooler King”, since he gets sent to solitary confinement more often than not for his escape attempts. And yet, while in the cooler, Hilts comes up with a plan to escape that will also allow almost one hundred others to escape with him.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 flights to freedom


3 responses to “#115. Escape!

  1. Pingback: #147. Working the Prison System | Cinema Connections

  2. Pingback: End of Act Three | Cinema Connections

  3. Pingback: #292. Animated Classic Literature | Cinema Connections

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