Blu-ray, DVD Release: J’accuse

Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: Nov. 15, 2016
Price: DVD $17.99, Blu-ray $19.99
Studio: Olive Films


Best known for his silent works, including 1927’s Napoleon, France’s Abel Gance,  haunted by the suffering he witnessed during World War I, created the silent 1919 drama J’accuse to serve as the ultimate indictment of war.

jaccuse1_optAs Gance generally embraced the introduction of sound, it should be no surprise that he eventually remade J’accuse, possibly his most personal film, in 1938 utilizing the new technology.

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.

Like his original film, the 1938 version of J’accuse notably makes haunting use of actual World War I footage. Unlike the earlier version, however, it takes place almost entirely after the 1918 armistice. If his original film is a lament of World War I, his remake is a plea for peace from an artist terrified by the looming threat of World War II.

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.