Click here to return to the main site.

Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

The Colditz Story (1955)


Starring: John Mills, Christopher Rhodes, Lionel Jeffries, Bryan Forbes, Ian Carmichael and Eric Portman
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: U
Available 10 December 2012

In World War Two it was the duty of every soldier to attempt escape. Most ended in recapture and the most determined escaping officers were sent to Oflag IV-C, better known as Colditz Castle...

The Colditz Story (B&W - 1955 - 1 hr, 37 min, 54 sec) is a war film directed by Guy Hamilton, who adapted the true story of writer P.R. Reid. The film was nominated for two BAFTA’s.

Given, when the film was produced, the propaganda value would have been negligible, unlike films produced during the war. Nevertheless, the privations and stress of living under Wehrmacht control are side-lined in order to demonstrate the stoic determination of the men to escape.

The film admits that it has rearranged some of the events for dramatic purposes, but that essentially the film faithfully reflects life in Colditz. Given the testimony in the extras, I’m not sure why the films creators decided that the British contingent should be so posh, when the majority of the survivors patently are not.

Of course, apart from having Reid’s book to work from. It could not have hurt to have the supposedly escape proof camp, which had the dubious honour of being the place with the highest number of successful escapes, to choose from. In a way it’s a shame the war ended as the men didn’t get to try one of their more audacious ideas out, that of a glider plane hidden in the loft.

The Germans are portrayed as tough, but fair, an easier sell, even in 1955, as the camp was under the control of the regular German army and not the SS. There is an element of stupidity which has been injected into some of the characters, which, with the posh boys on one side, makes the film less historical drama and more boys own adventure.

The film was able to call upon the acting skills of some of the best players in the mid-fifties with John Mills, Lionel Jeffries, Ian Carmichael and Eric Portman all putting in good turns.

Artistic license aside, the film remains a solid piece of film making, though not as flashy as The Great Escape (1963) or emotional as Escape from Sobibor (1987). The story is compelling enough to have produced, not only a television show, but a couple of other films.

The main point of the new Blu-ray version is the restored print. There is a slight level of grain, which would have existed in the original print, but apart from this the restorers have done a magnificent job of bringing the film back to life. The restorers have stuck with a cleaned up version of the mono 1.0 audio track and rightly so, there is little in the film which would have benefitted from a faked up DD 5.1 track.

Colditz Revealed (53 min, 34 sec) has survivors of the real prison camp talking about their experiences, oddly enough the real survivors are a lot less posh than their movie counterparts. There is also a mute restoration comparison (3 min, 03 sec) which is like going to the opticians: "better, worse, better, worse".

The film hold up well as a drama, even after all these years and the restored print just puts the cherry on top of the cake.


Charles Packer

Buy this item online

We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal
Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£13.99 (
£13.99 (
£14.00 (

All prices correct at time of going to press.