Entertainment and Arts

Determination and Redemption in True Story ‘The Great Escaper’

By: Russ Matthews

One of the proud aspects of growing up with a grandfather who fought in World War II was knowing how his service defined many aspects of his life and our family.

Yet, he didn’t talk about his experiences much, as it wasn’t something his generation was encouraged to do after returning home. Those who had the privilege of surviving the war got back to the lives they left behind without confronting the demons that followed many of them after experiencing the horrors of warfare.

Bernard Jordan (Michael Caine) was one of those World War II veterans who served in the British Royal Navy and was part of the efforts that landed on Normandy during D-Day. After the war, he returned to his wife Irene (Rene) (Glenda Jackson). He committed to living his best life through their marriage despite keeping most of his wartime experiences to himself. As the decades wore on, they enjoyed their simple lives and made the most of the later seasons of life. When the 70th anniversary of the operation that turned the tide of the world war came around, Bernard was now 89 years old. Unfortunately, he managed to miss out on going over with the local group of veterans for the celebration. Still, he felt this moment was the final opportunity to go to France and bury many of the ghosts of his memories. With Rene’s encouragement, the former Navyman decided to go on one final mission. This meant that Bernard would need to ‘escape’ from the care facility where the couple resided and make a dash for the coast of France. His journey would eventually become a historical situation, making him a legend.

There is a reason why the world was fascinated with Bernard Jordan’s story: it contains a hopefulness and devotion that has been missing in the world. Michael Caine and Glenda Jackson are wonderfully honourable in portraying the elderly couple. This incredibly talented pair exudes the Jordans’ loving commitment while representing their generation’s tenaciousness. Director Oliver Parker (Swimming with Men) captures the essence of this beautiful tale of resolution and redemption without relying on the melodrama that can derail these true-to-life experiences. The combination of Bernard and Rene’s is effectively balanced while showing how their marriage survived throughout the decades. The only thing that could potentially overshadow this endearing and beautiful story would be how it was the final film for multi-award-winning actors Michael Caine and Glenda Jackson. Yet, this aspect only complemented the overall joy unpacked in this cinematic journey.

The Great Escaper is one of those beautiful stories that will reward audiences of all ages with a message of hope, joy and the beauty of marriage.

REEL DIALOGUE: Can we make up for our past?

Redemption: an act of redeeming or atoning for a fault or mistake, or the state of being redeemed. Deliverance from sin; salvation.

The idea of redemption is a driving force in The Great Escaper. As the story unfolds, Bernard Jordan’s decision to ‘escape’ is to do more than reminisce about his wartime memories. Even though he is not plagued with atrocities, the former sailor must confront unfulfilled promises to find peace for his soul.

At its heart, his story deals with some of life’s basic needs. Love, forgiveness and redemption.

Travelling through life, most of us come to a point of seeking redemption for various things that we have done. Trying to find a means of rectifying the wrongs we have done to people, society or God. This concept can be found at the heart of the Bible’s message. Jesus’ life and death provide a special type of redemption readily available to anyone willing to accept it.

He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name! – Psalm 111:9

For those looking for answers to facing your fears, the Third Space team is here for you. We would love to chat with you about mentorship and more.


Article supplied with thanks to City Bible Forum.

All images: Movie stills

About the author: Russ Matthews is a film critic at City Bible Forum and Reel Dialogue. He has a passion for film and sparking spiritual conversations.

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