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Michael Caine and Glenda Jackson — both two-time Oscar winners with 10 nominations between them — are teaming up for The Great Escaper, based on real events about a WWII veteran who breaks out of his care home to attend the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Landings in France.
Pathe is co-producing the film and will be presenting it to buyers at the European Film Market next month.
In the summer of 2014 — the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Landings — octogenarian Bernard “Bernie” Jordan (Caine) made global headlines. He staged a “great escape” from his care home to join fellow war veterans on a beach in Normandy, commemorating their fallen comrades.
It was a story that captured the imagination of the world: Bernie seemed to embody the defiant, “can-do” spirit of a generation that was fast disappearing. “But of course, it wasn’t the whole story. It was the story we all tell ourselves to make war and old age bearable,” according to a plot description. “The bitter-sweet script explores the reality with wit and a very big heart. Bernie’s adventure, spanning a mere 48 hours, also marked the culmination of his 60-year marriage to Irene (Jackson). The story celebrates their love without sentimentality and with an eye to the lessons we might all learn from the Greatest Generation.”
The film will be directed by BAFTA nominee Oliver Parker (An Ideal Husband) from a script by BAFTA nominee William Ivory (Made in Dagenham) and is scheduled to start principal photography in June this year.
“No one can resist a script that makes people both laugh and cry – I loved Billy’s writing and the story itself, so inspirational and so moving, seemed to speak to our times and our need for heroes on a human scale, whether people like Bernard Jordan or our doctors and nurses,” said Parker. “And now to have Michael and Glenda – two iconic actors – agree to honour this story with their brilliance, it’s the cherry on the cake!”
The film will be produced by BAFTA nominees Robert Bernstein and Douglas Rae (Nowhere Boy) and is an Ecosse Films production for Pathe, BBC Film and Ingenious Media. Executive Producers are Cameron McCracken and Jenny Borgars for Pathé; Rose Garnett for BBC Film; and Andrea Scarso for Ingenious. Pathé will distribute the film in the U.K., France and Switzerland and will handle sales throughout the rest of the world.
Caine is represented by ICM and Management 42, and Jackson is represented by Lionel Larner.
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