The last escape, another dawn

It is the exact moment when night separates from day. The alarm goes off at 4:15, the same as yesterday. The alarm clock screeches. But Bernie and Rene are already standing on the balcony, enveloped in the lights and shadows of the new day. There’s no time to go back to the light table. They know that the time is now, here. In this fragile present. Tomorrow there may not be another dawn.

Good movies usually have several scenes that shake us by the lapels, but there is almost always one that reverberates, like bubbles, and is savored for much longer. The critics of “The Last Escape” (inspired by a true story) seem to have agreed to choose one of them, which is not mine, nor perhaps yours. Does matters. The film starring Michael Caine and Glenda Jackson has several moments in which night is separated from day. It is true that when Bernie visits the British military cemetery where more than 4 thousand soldiers are buried and says what a waste! It’s a memorable scene. He screams, like an 89-year-old man standing on a walker can scream, what a waste! in front of the graves of 20-year-old boys. He himself was a boy when he crossed the English Channel and landed in France to liberate Europe from Nazism.

And over the years he returns by ferry to the beaches of Normandy after escaping from the nursing home where he lives with his wife. He wants to join war veterans in remembering the fallen on a new anniversary of the D-Day Landings.

Bernie and René, together until the last dawn, in “The Last Escape.”

But his fight now is not that. It is against old age, a contest where one can win many battles, but never the war. You know, we all know, that in the long run even good dramas have a sad ending. So when Bernie finally returns to the nursing home after his escape, he invites his wife for a long walk. He pushes his wheelchair as if pushing the air they breathe. At the end of the movie the legend appears on the screen “Bernie Jordan died six months after his trip to France. Rene left with him seven days later.”

Bernie was an electrician, he was 19 years old and he was on one of the boats that took the war tanks to the beaches of Normandy. He operated the electric bow doors.

After the war, It made his life not a waste. He was mayor of his town and married Rene. It was she who encouraged him to run away from home to return to Normandy. He wanted to help him face his demons. They both knew that could be the last escape. As Michael Caine (he announced his retirement from acting after this film) and Glenda Jackson (died shortly after) also knew it.

Michael Caine and Glenda Kackson, on both sides of the screen in “The Last Escape.”

Both stories – the one told from either side of the screen – talk about two wars. That of the conflict between countries and that of the passage of time. Cane himself said it: “While some people survive war, no one survives to old age.”

The alarm sounds. He reminds us that another sunrise awaits us on the balcony.

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