5 fabulous movies about prison escapes

It’s time to break free!

Harper's Bazaar India

We love those who dare to dream. And when it comes to daring, few things rank higher than a convict, whether on the right or wrong side of the law, planning and executing the perfect escape from prison—while some were lucky to make it on the other side, others were not. Cinema has treated us with many of these prison-break movies, and whatever the outcome may be for the convict, these have made for gripping, nail-bitting watches.  

Here are a few of the very best movies about escaping prisons. 

Escape From Alcatraz 

This movie made us fall in love with Clint Eastwood (if we weren’t crazy for him already) as it was nothing like his power-packed performances in the host of westerns that had made him a household name. In this movie, we see him escaping from the most difficult place to escape from—Alcatraz, the famous island prison located in San Francisco Bay. A major reason why the film, based on J Campbell Bruce’s novel of the same name (which is, in turn, based on a real escape from Alcatraz in 1962), stands out is because it was shot in the actual location—-the Alcatraz Prison. The movie starts on a slow pace, and then builds up to the escape, making it worth our while. It's fascinating to see watch dummies being created and the tunnelling through the walls and to know this actually happened, leaves us open-mouthed. 

The Great Escape

This movie is one of the greatest prison escape films of all time. Why? It’s got everything and everyone that you could possibly think of—the star-studded cast includes Steve McQueen, James Garner, Donald Pleasence, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, and David McCallum. The three-hour epic sees these allied Prisoners of war during World War II, break out of a heavily-guarded prison war camp in Germany. Along with the stellar performances, the film has an amazing soundtrack, and some brilliant stunts—the motorcycle jump is unforgettable. With a whole lot of nail-biting moments, it’s a film that you surely mustn’t miss. 

A Man Escaped 

When the clock is ticking and with every passing day, you’re a step closer to the date of your death sentence, escaping from prison might just seem as the best and, probably, the only option. Well, that’s exactly what happens in this movie that is set during the Nazi occupation of France. Watching the amount of solitude that the protagonist faces and the level of detail that goes into the planning of the escape makes it tough for anyone to not root for him. Like most prison-break movies, it’s a slow film, but an excellent one.

I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang

When a film, more than 90-years old, is still spoken about, you have to know it’s a brilliant one. I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang is perhaps one of the first moves that one could categorise under the prison escape genre. Here, the protagonist,  a wrongfully convicted man on a chain gang, escapes from prison early on in the film. Through the rest of the movie, we see him on the run. Despite how old the film is, it is one that seems way ahead of its time with regards to how impactful some of its scenes and the pace of the delivery is. 

The Shawshank Redemption 

There is no way we wouldn't mention this cinematic masterpiece. It is well and truly one of the most emotional film, let alone it being a brilliant prison break movie, that you’ll ever see. Based on a short story by Stephen King, The Shawshank Redemption is the beautiful story about a wrongfully imprisoned man, Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), and the friend he makes while in jail, “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman). Watching the two individuals who are poles apart—Andy wanted to desperately escape while Red accepted his fate—come to respect and understand each other is nothing short of brilliant.