The Great Escape

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
The Great Escape Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
An exceptional story about teamwork.
  • NR
  • 1963
  • 172 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 7 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Role Models & Representations

People from a variety of backgrounds and countries work together toward a common goal.

Violence & Scariness

Very tense moments, characters in peril and many killed.

Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some drinking, smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there are some tense scenes in this movie, people are killed, and there's some drinking and smoking.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 7-year-old Written bynathanael.schulte July 29, 2015
My son (7, almost 8) has been into superheroes since he was very young. I was surprised that the movie kept his interest for almost 3 hours, since the pacing is... Continue reading
Parent of a 7-year-old Written bygracec March 22, 2010

Only for tweens please

I rented this to watch with my husband and 7 (almost 8) year old son and was very disappointed with how inappropriate it was for someone his age. There is extr... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old June 12, 2017

GREAT MOVIE!!!!!!!!!!

I think that this movie is a great movie and tells that it really sucks to be in World War 2. It is funny, sad, long, and great. I think that kids that crave v... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byEggplantEater February 12, 2020

Using The Great Escape as a Tool to Learn About WWII

The Great Escape is a film about a prisoner of war camp in world war two. It focuses on two main prisoners trying to escape but about 50 other prisoners assist... Continue reading

What's the story?

This is the true story of the extraordinary courage and ingenuity of Allied men imprisoned in the Germans' special high-security WWII prison camp, and their plans for the greatest escape ever. Each man contributes his expertise. There are "tunnel kings" to dig the three tunnels, a "forger king" (Donald Pleasence) to forge the papers the soldiers will need when they escape, a "scrounger" (James Garner) to obtain required materials, and others. An American loner, Hilts (Steve McQueen), becomes the "cooler king" for his long stints in solitary, as a result of his own escape attempts. When "Big X" (Richard Attenborough), the British officer supervising the escape, asks Hilts to go through the tunnel to get important information, and then allow himself to be recaptured so he can give them the information, he refuses. But when his friend is killed trying to escape, Hilts changes his mind. Seventy-five of the prisoners are able to escape before the tunnel is discovered. The Germans track almost all of them down, and fifty are killed, including Big X.

Is it any good?

As in Stalag 17 and other films about prison camp, the prisoners in this remarkable drama adapt to the direst of circumstances with differing approaches. Hilts works on his own, or with one man, while others work on a massive group escape. Two men begin to unravel under the stress, not so much a "choice" as an involuntary response. Unlike other prison camp movies, this one does not dwell on disputes between prisoners or on the deprivations, which seems almost comfortable. It is about the professionalism, courage, resourcefulness, teamwork, and loyalty of every one of the prisoners.

Like a traditional "heist" film, the story focuses on defining a problem and then solving it. They examine the restrictions imposed by their conditions, change the ones they can, and adapt to the ones they cannot. They must also adapt quickly and calmly when the plan does not go as they expected. The story gives us an exceptional example of teamwork and loyalty, and the prisoners protect each other.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why the experts are called "kings." What makes Hilts change his mind about getting the information they want? Who was right about taking the Forger out through the tunnel, Big X or the Scrounger?Given the results of their action in this story, should officers who have been taken prisoner feel duty-bound to try to escape?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas

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