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From "Pentimento," the memoirs of late playwright Lillian Hellman, JULIA covers those years in the 1930s when Lillian attained fame with the production of her first play "The Childrens' Hour" on Broadway. Not surprisingly, it centers on Lillian's relationship with her lifelong friend, Julia. It is a relationship that goes beyond mere acquaintance and one for which the word "love" seems appropriate. While Julia attends the University in Vienna, studying with such luminaries as Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein, Lillian suffers through revisions of her play with her mentor and sometimes lover Dashiel Hammett at a New England beachhouse. After becoming a celebrated playwright, Lillian is invited to a writers conference in Russia. Julia, having taken up the battle against fascism, enlists Lillian en route to smuggle money through Nazi Germany which will assist in the Anti-Fascist cause. It is a dangerous mission especially for a Jewish intellectual on her way to communist Russia. During a... Written by
Mark Fleetwood <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This was one of the best pictures I had ever seen when it was first released, and after almost thirty years, I still think so, especially after watching the steady decline in quality of product that the film industry has turned out since.
Gorgeously photographed, costumed and written, with some of the finest acting on film, "Julia" succeeds in capturing the texture and truly world shattering issues of a time and place, Europe between the wars and on the brink of cataclysm. Everything about it shines, from the scenes of childhood in flashback to the suspenseful and tense train trip, I watch this film over and over waiting for one scene: the scene between Fonda and Redgrave in the Berlin restaurant. I just saw it again two hours ago and once again I was in awe of the acting, from both stars, some of the finest work of their careers, the direction of the scene and the spare, intense writing.
Whether the story itself was factual or not (Hellman might just have made it all up!) it works on so many levels that it's still worthy, and its truth or falsity just doesn't matter.
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