J’Accuse; That They May Live

2401. J’ACCUSE (That They May Live) (1937-France), with VICTOR FRANCEN. Directed and written by ABEL GANCE. As war approached Europe in the mid-1930s with the rise to power Of Adolph Hitler in Germany, famed French filmmaker Abel Gance felt the need to make an artistic statement regarding his pacifistic leanings and deeply humanistic concern for the survival Of mankind. The end result was this heartfelt, unrelentingly powerful and deeply moving drama. The setting is the First World War which supposedly was “The War To End All Wars.” A group Of French infantrymen have been chosen by lot to be members Of a “death patrol.” All are certain to die in batÂtle. A soldier named Jean Diaz volunteers to replace one Of the men, who is the father Of four chilÂdren. All eventually are killed, except for Diaz. Ironically, they are fated to be the final casualties Of the war. Diaz goes on to be haunted by the memory Of his fallen comrades. The battle scenes all are graphically real and utterly shattering. They are loaded with potent symbolism, such as the image Of a dead dove sinking to the bottom Of some murky, polluted water and a statue Of Christ lying lopÂsided after being destroyed by a bomb. By far the film’s highlight is the celebrated and visually potent “Return Of the Dead” sequence, among the most famed Of its type in motion picture history. Here, the ghosts Of the war’s deceased victims collectively rise from their graves and march in uniÂson. Many Of the extras in this sequence were real-life World War I veterans who had been woundÂed and scarred in battle. In French with English subtitles. Recommended. 73 minutes. Drama