1919. France. Abel Gance. Approx. 161 min.
Sunday, October 24, 2010, 1:15 p.m.
Theater 2 (The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 2), T2
1919. France. Directed by Abel Gance. With Romuald Joubé, Marise Dauvray, Séverin-Mars. Stunningly restored to its full 1919 length with its original color tinting by the EYE Film Institute Netherlands in collaboration with Lobster Films, and accompanied live on piano by Robert Israel, one of the world’s finest silent-film composers, J’Accuse is a milestone of silent cinema. It also endures as one of the most damning antiwar films ever made, said to have influenced Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway, and later championed by Susan Sontag and the film historian Kevin Brownlow. Made in the last, brutal year of the Great War, Gance’s technically groundbreaking film chronicles the decimation of a Provençal village as the sons of France go off to fight, either dying on the front or returning as shell-shocked, hollow men. Gance (La Roué, Napoleon) and his brilliant cameraman Léonce-Henry Burel filmed several sequences alongside the United States Army during the battle of Saint-Mihiel in September 1918. Gance would later recall the unforgettable “return of the dead” sequence that ends the film: "The conditions in which we filmed were profoundly moving….These men had come straight from the Front—from Verdun—and they were due back eight days later. They played the dead knowing that in all probability they'd be dead themselves before long. Within a few weeks of their return, eighty per cent had been killed." Silent. Approx. 161 min.
In the Film exhibition To Save and Project: The Eighth MoMA International Festival of Film Preservation
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