Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

A Man Escaped (1956)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

A Man Escaped - or: The Wind Blows Where It Wishes (1956, Fr.) (aka Un Condamné à Mort S'est échappé ou Le Vent Souffle où il Veut)

In Robert Bresson's dramatic wartime POW jailbreak-escape thriller, based on a true story about French Resistance fighting member André Devigny who was held in Montluc prison at Lyon by the occupying German Gestapo during WWII in 1943 - with the protagonist's voice-over commentary describing the action:

  • in the stunning, suspenseful opening sequence without dialogue, the first escape attempt of condemned Lt. Fontaine (Francois Leterrier) - while being transported to the Lyon military prison - sitting in the back seat of a car; after eyeing and touching the door handle, he was able to open it and jump from the slowing car when a streetcar crossed their path; he was recaptured (off-screen, while shots, scuffling and cries in German were heard - one instance of the film's brilliant use of diegetic sound) as the camera remained stationary inside the car when he was thrown back in the car, handcuffed to himself, and arrived bloodied and unconscious at his prison cell - clear evidence that he had been severely beaten (with the butt of a pistol) by German guards; he was sentenced to death for espionage and sabotage
  • Fontaine's incarceration in a claustrophobic small cell with a high ceiling and a small window - and the sequences of his meticulous and patient planning for a future escape from the prison - he completely deconstructed his entire cell for purposes of creating makeshift tools for escape: he whittled down a spoon into a sharp tool, took apart his bed, the light fixture, mattress and springs, and clothing (making hooks and ropes), and chiseled down and loosened the panel boards of his poorly-made, wooden cell door
Preparations To Escape
  • the use of a passive camera, where the Germans were often seen as shadowy, undetailed characters (with most of the events outside the cell remaining off-screen)
  • the unexpected appearance of 16 year-old, teenaged François Jost (Charles Le Clainche), a young cellmate - viewed suspiciously (as a potentially untrustworthy spy?) by Fontaine and causing him a severe dilemma: ("There was no time to lose. I'd have to make a choice. Either bring Jost with me, or do away with him...But would I have the courage to kill this kid in cold blood?"), until the two began to trust each other, and made a daring, tense, and determined escape attempt together - with only a limited amount of time to succeed
  • the final nightime foggy and dark view of the two undetected prisoners quickly retreating from the prison after scaling between two buildings and dropping to the ground
The Escape of Jost and Fontaine

Lt. Fontaine Escaping from Moving Car - Camera Remained Stationary Inside Car, as He Was Recaptured

Severely Beaten

Arrival of Young Cellmate Yost


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