“J’Accuse” is quite the depressing movie to watch right before Thanksgiving. Showing shades of what Kubrick and Spielberg would later mine in their war tales, Gance is best served by his silent film roots. While most of the first third of the film is defined by its visuals, Gance has a story to tell. Victor Francen plays our lead with a sullen sense of withdrawal that has become commonplace for shell shocked actors onscreen. Francen had the Thousand Yard stare down before Kubrick ever perfected it.
While the film continually pounces on the idea that humanity is naturally awful, you could feel the final third of the movie serving as a warning against World War II. Gance was a European director that knew what Hitler had planned. Through Francen, you can feel him pleading with a distant American audience to care about the atrocities that were happening. Yet like the never-ending hordes of soldiers and civilians that haunt Francen’s dreams, it just doesn’t matter. War and people never change.
This film is a remake of Gance’s earlier 1919 silent film. However, it builds on the film by adding 19 years of changing history to it. I’ll probably rewatch it again over the Holidays, as this is a film that still feels news to me. Hell, it might start me on a Gance binge.
- 1.37:1 1080p transfer
- DTS-HD Mono
RELEASE DATE: 11/15/16
- Video - 92%92%
- Audio - 91%91%
- Supplemental Material - 0%0%
- Film Score - 90%90%
The Plot Thus Far
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.