J'accuse

An early (1919) masterpiece. Yes, it's silent, it's French, it's long (almost 3 hours) and it is anti-war, but it's images will stay with you long after the movie ends. It was written and directed by Abel Gance of Napoleon fame and filmed soon after the end of W.W.I. He was present, as part of a joint agreement between France and the USA, at one of the last battles of the war and filmed actually battlefield action. These scenes were included in the film so well it is difficult to tell what is real and what was later acted. Gance is especially hard on those who did not fight, but stayed home and profited by the war. The story revolves around two men, a poet and a brute, who love the same woman. She is married to the brute (why? we don't know) but loves the poet. The two men end up assigned to the same unit and become comrades, if not friends. War takes it's toll on both in different ways. The ending of the film is haunting, with the infamous "march of the dead", the millions of soldiers rising from their graves and accusing those who profited from their death. Strong stuff.

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