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Sunday, June 15, 2014

J'Accuse (1938) - Abel Gance

This version of J'Accuse is actually a remake of Abel Gance's own 1919 Silent version. This movie is incredibly interesting as it is enormous for it's time. This movie is less of a horror movie and more of a war film that has horror elements. Those elements are some of the best I have seen to date and that's why I need to present this movie to you.

Abel Gance gives us a very raw and unfiltered look at the actual horrors of war. Our main character is a scientist that has been in the shit and wants it to stop. He starts his research for a machine that would stop all war, for all time. However, when the government ignores the man's research and starts to get into the great war he decides to raise the dead and torment the aggressors.

The movie is long and has subtitles. If you arn't used to watching movies like this then I would suggest looking for something else. Either that or you can check out the amazing, zombie scene below. J'Accuse! clocks in at just over two hours making it quite a long, foreign film. However, the pacing and detail in the actors lines really keeps you engaged. The film definitely uses the fear of Europe entering into World War 2 to its advantage. If I grew up in the thirties, this movie would have been a nail biter. 

The film is depressing and eye opening at the same time. Gance explores the dark parts of a mans soul after he has seen what cannot be unseen. The obvious political overtones are enough to choke on but serve as a very important piece of the puzzle. The director masterfully makes this movie equally clean as it is impressive. The use of stock war footage is great. His use of actual war victims and survivors makes this one of the most interesting features I've reviewed. 

The fear in this movie comes on in a very realistic type fashion. This movie deals with very real, everyday horrors and mixes that with things like raising the dead. There is one scene particular scene that shows the passion this scientist has in stopping war. He slips into a post-traumatic stress induced rant that is simply terrifying! Victor Francen was fantastic in this. He really fits the part. 

This film is fantastic. Powerful, important, and terrifying. It has that two hour run-time but it also has so many great scenes that stand out. If you are a film student than this movie is a must watch. It is that important. Not many horror films were made or released in the late thirties. This one is a gem in the rough. It works on so many levels. I definitely recommend.

  • Excuse My French: The word "merde" is repeated in a scene. This translates to "shit." 
  • Recycled but Relevant: This movie is a remake of Abel Gances own 1919 silent film. 

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