I first became familiar with the Dreyfus affair after seeing it as a favorite subject of several questions and answers on Jeopardy. French Captain Alfred Dreyfus was wrongly accused, tries and convicted of treason. When evidence of his innocence was discovered, it was covered by higher ups in the French army, prompting many French intellectuals, including Emile Zola, to get involved.
The first part of the movie, actually showing the life of Emile Zola, moves quickly enough, as it is a series of short scenes that outlines his writing career. But there's nothing too interesting, save for his friendship with painter Paul Cézanne and a few lines about fighting for the people, likely taken from his own writings. I found myself mentally drifting away during that first part, but as I mentioned before, the movie really takes off when the Dreyfus affair begins. The scenes when Emile Zola is on trial are the most dramatic and best of the movie and made it well worth watching.
NEXT WEEK: 1939 - You Can't Take it With You
Oscar Project Rankings:
- It Happened One Night (1935)
- All Quiet on the Western Front (1931)
- Mutiny on the Bounty (1936)
- The Life of Emile Zola (1938)
- Grand Hotel (1933)
- Cimarron (1932)
- The Great Ziegfeld (1936)
- Broadway Melody (1930)
- Wings (1929)
- Cavalcade (1933)