After serving in the trenches of World War I, Jean Diaz recoils with such horror that he renounces love and personal pleasure to immerse himself in scientific research, seeking a machine to...
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Abel Gance's 1971 sound edition of his epic 1927 'Napoleon', which contains much of the silent original, with new material shot and added in both 1965 and 1971, and with sound synchronization from both the 1932 reissue and this version.
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Gabriel de Gravone,
After serving in the trenches of World War I, Jean Diaz recoils with such horror that he renounces love and personal pleasure to immerse himself in scientific research, seeking a machine to prevent war. He thinks he has succeeded, but the government subverts his discovery, and Europe slides with seeming inevitability toward World War II. In desperation, Diaz summons the ghosts of the war dead from the graves and fields of France to give silent, accusing protest.Written by
This film is an anti-war film about a man who served in WWI and sees that further wars are approaching because we never learned the lesson. Despite his rants, people seem to think war is a GOOD option, so the film ends with his unleashing an object lesson everyone won't soon forget.
Wow, did this film attempt something different! It was a remake of an earlier silent version by the same director. However, despite its STRONG IMPACT and imaginative script and cinematography at the end, the film was far from perfect. My first complaint is the quality of the camera work. While, as I said above, the end is spectacular, a lot of very grainy old vintage WWI film is inter-spliced into the film. It just doesn't look very seamless, as the quality is dramatically worse than the movie itself. It could really use a remastering--using computer technology to clean up and restore the old footage. My second complaint is the length of the film. For once, I actually think the film would have been better if it would have been shortened. The plot in the middle of the film greatly detracted from the emotional impact of the beginning and the end. Third, while the director was very sincere and was right that WWI was a pointless and stupid waste of life where no one person was truly to blame, his message of moral relativism probably contributed to the French ethos that led to their quick capitulation to the Nazis in WWII. World War II was NOT morally equivalent, as Hitler was indeed evil and the cost in human life to stop him EARLY in the war would have been well-worth it in the end (i.e., taking a pacifist stand allowed Hitler to do FAR more damage to mankind than standing up against him in 1939-40). I admire the effort, but wonder what would have been the result if this film had NOT come out just before WWII.
Do not assume I am gung-ho about war. Most wars are pointless and WWI is the greatest example of the stupidity and waste of war. For an even better film about this, try watching the original ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (1930). Another excellent anti-war film is THE EAGLE AND THE HAWK, also set in WWI.
4/28/08--By the way, I just saw the "original" version of this film by the same writer/director. Despite BOTH having the same name, the films are very different. While J'ACCUSE (1919) is more of a spectacle and was more innovative for the time, J'ACCUSE (1938) is much more watchable today and has a much clearer anti-war message. Also, there is a movie by the same name from 2003 and a mini-series from the 1990s--but both have nothing to do with the French films.
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