J’Accuse (1938)

J’ACCUSE (1938)
Article #205 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 10-7-2001
Posting date: 2-20-2002

A man is the only survivor of a suicide mission performed on the eve of armistice. He vows to do all he can to prevent another war, but twenty years later, the winds of war are blowing again.

As anti-war films go, this is pretty good, though it pales next to ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT. However, the real question for this column is how it qualifes as a fantastic film. I could argue that it was the slight science fiction content in the middle of the film where the protagonist creates a new type of glass/metal that is going to be used for the war despite his attempt to prevent it, but that’s not the main reason. But in order to discuss the real reason, it requires that I put up a

SPOILER WARNING

before continuing. If you’ve seen the film, you know what’s coming; in fact, most summaries of this movie can’t resist giving away the ending, where the protagonist raises the dead from World War I to stop the next war. This sequence is stunning, and I highly recommmend it to horror fans; it is a gripping and terrifying sequence, and it makes most horror movies of the period seem puny. In fact, the only horror movie from that time that achieves this pitch of terror is probably ISLAND OF LOST SOULS. The movie is definitely worth catching, even if the middle section is fairly dull in comparison to the good opening and the great ending. Incidentally, Victor Francen, who plays Jean Diaz in this movie, would later pop up as the pianist in THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS.

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