Film - The Captive Heart

Captive Heart

Studiocanal has released a newly restored version of the classic British WW2 drama, The Captive Heart (1946) on DVD and Blu-Ray. So did it capture the heart of Chris Smith...

France, 1940. With France defeated, thousands of British servicemen who were unable to escape at Dunkirk face an uncertain future as prisoners of war. As the men march towards a prison camp, they remember those left behind at home and focus on surviving whatever comes next. At a time when they need another more than ever, suspicions run rife that one of their number - Captain Geoffrey Mitchell - isn't who he claims to be....

Filmed only a year after the end of World War Two, The Captive Heart is a stirring love story and one of the best from that era. Mitchell is in fact Captain Karel Hasek, a Czech who is at first suspected of being a German spy. To maintain the masquerade, he continues to correspond with Mitchell's widow - a woman Mitchell had once abandoned.

The Captive Heart is a film about fear - of discovery, of what's happening to the POWs loved ones, and Hasek's own fear about being discovered by the camp's commander. The tension is palpable and expertly acted - by a cast filled with men who had served in the war themselves.

Michael Redgrave

Michael Redgrave's Hasek makes for a charming British officer. He abhors the idea of lying to Mitchell's widow but does so out of necessity. The camp is visited regularly by Herr Forster, the former commander of the camp Hasek escaped from. While he doesn't recognise Mitchell as Hesek, he has his suspicions. The differences between Mitchell and Hasek in his letters are obvious but they both allow the deception to continue. The other men have worries of their own. Between allegations of infidelity and struggling to come to terms with injuries, life continues back home.

As a product of the famous Ealing Studios, The Captive Heart is a fantastic British film and sadly, of a type no longer made. While the conditions in the camp are glossed over and at times seem rather rather pleasant, the conflict amongst the men takes centre stage.

The Captive Heart is captivating and well worth watching.

Images - Studiocanal