Fictionalized account of the life of famed French author Emile Zola. As portrayed in the film, he was a penniless writer sharing an apartment in Paris with painter Paul Cezanne when he finally wrote a best-seller, Nana. He has always had difficulty holding onto a job as he is quite outspoken, being warned on several occasions by the public prosecutor that he risks charges if he does not temper his writings. The bulk of the film deals with his involvement in the case of Captain Alfred Dreyfus who was falsely convicted of giving secret military information to the Germans and sentenced to life imprisonment on Devils Island. Antisemitism played an important role in the real-life case but is hardly mentioned in the film. Even after the military found definitive evidence that Dreyfus was innocent, the army decided to cover it up rather than face the scandal of having arbitrarily convicted the wrong man. Zola's famous letter, J'Accuse (I Accuse), led to his own trial for libel where he was ... Written by
Here Is True Greatness !
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Did You Know?
Writers Heinz Herald
and Geza Herczeg
initially took the project to Ernst Lubitsch
at Paramount who immediately recognized the potential of the film. He also knew that Paul Muni
was the only actor capable of pulling off Émile Zola
but Muni was contracted to Warner Brothers at the time, so Lubitsch sold the project on to Warners. See more
In this story set in France and featuring French characters, the written and printed texts are all in English. See more
At this solemn moment, in the presence of this tribunal, which is the representative of human justice, before France, before the whole world, I swear that Dreyfus is innocent! By all that I have won, by all that I have written to spread the spirit of France, I swear that he is innocent. May all that melt away; may my name perish if Dreyfus be not innocent. He is innocent.
Written by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle
Variations often in the score See more