Monday, November 1, 2010

J'accuse! (1938)

This is the start of five days of films with a political bend.

I should warn you that there are spoilers ahead in my discussion of this film.

I saw a short American cut (75 minutes or so) of Abel Gance's anti war film. Made on the eve of the second world war this tells the story of an inventor who survives the trenches and vows never to let war engulf the world again. Twenty years on as the world marches toward war he is horrified to discover that the same people who fought in the last war and also vowed never again are marching us toward another war.

Abbreviated or not this is a kick in the head. Not so much a plea for peace as a long scream this is a film that some how transcends it's sometimes silliness to become a something that will rattle your soul.

Gance pulls no punches and tells it like it is. War sucks and the thought of ever waging it is insanity.The end of the film, where the war dead rise up is chilling. These are not people made up, these are the battle scared marching towards us in a disturbing in your face manner.

I really liked the film both intellectually and emotionally. Its not perfect but it is a kick in the head and the heart. (Gance's full version runs over two hours. I haven't seen that version of the film, I've read that it includes a several characters who counterpoint the main story. I haven't seen it so I can't compare but this short version really made me say Wow.)

This is currently available from Amazon on VHS and from Sinister Cinema on DVD

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