Above all, in La Grande Illusion, we find lucidity and innocence. We find these qualities everywhere in Renoir, but never under such stress, for here they are not only signs of a style, but maneuvers in a gathering war. Are they the right maneuvers? We are bound to ask the question, regardless of our aesthetics, because we are being asked to agree and to act, as well as to admire…. [La Grande Illusion] is a persuasion: it tries to turn us away from Z and toward A, and from this turning proceed the real excitement, tact, and beauty it offers.
Certain difficulties always latent in pacifist persuasion appear in acute form in La Grande Illusion. There can be none of the familiar...
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