"La Grande Illusion": What is that chin strap contraption?
August 29, 2014 6:05 AM   Subscribe

Can someone shed some light on what that chin strap contraption worn by "Captaine von Rauffenstein" (Erich von Stroheim) in Renoir's "La Grande Illusion" is? A fashion accessory? Or rather a medical prosthetic of some sort? Am baffled.
posted by oxidizer to Media & Arts (5 answers total)
I believe the chin strap is the top of some kind of medical corset, worn as the result of a war injury.
posted by neroli at 6:12 AM on August 29, 2014

Stroheim suggested the chin brace, according to this book.

I do not know the story - did he fracture his neck? This site says "The German commandant has wound up here after his own combat flying misadventure that has left him with multiple burns and a fractured neck, now held in place by a metal brace".
posted by the webmistress at 6:12 AM on August 29, 2014

I think it is mentioned in the film. That's why he is in command of a prison camp rather than on more active duty.
posted by biffa at 6:32 AM on August 29, 2014

In the movie it was explained that von Rauffenstein suffered some burn wounds and (as biffa already mentioned) he is no longer on active duty. The burns also explain why he is wearing the white gloves (there is a scene where he is told that there were only two(?) pairs of gloves left). I always thought the chin strap was to cover the burns.
posted by MzB at 7:37 AM on August 29, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers.

I just watched the film and indeed, it is alluded to at some point.

I'd only seen a still before and was struck by that bizarre contraption.
posted by oxidizer at 8:19 AM on August 29, 2014

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