I Accuse (United Artists) (1919)

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Four Reviews of the Picture NOTE TO EXHIBITORS: Almost every photoplay Editor is always snowed under by an avalanche of the plain, gar¬ den variety of work. For that reason he welcomes prepared reviews of current pictures. If the review you submit is not a palpable boost for the picture in question he prints it verbatim. Even if he doesn’t use this material just as it comes to his desk, it is always very helpful, for from it he gains an idea of the nature of the picture, the identities of the star, supporting players, directors, author and scenario writer. The review printed below aims to give an unbiased view of the Gance picture. “I ACCUSE” A SENSATIONAL PICTURE Abel Gance’s sensational produc¬ tion, “I Accuse,” presented by the United Artists Corporation, and which is the feature at the . Theatre, has in it all the elements that go to make a really great and success¬ ful motion picture. Thrills there are aplenty, with action and human in¬ terest abounding from the first start of the film to the very last. All through the picture, which is of considerable length, the human emo¬ tions are portrayed and perfectly blended. Laughter, pathos and tra¬ gedy are interwoven with consummate skill, and those underlying beautiful traits of human character, so often passed by without notice, are made to stand out with cameo effect. All these outstanding features of the picture are made the more apparent and real to the audience because of the splendid acting of the noted French artists who almost live their parts. The story is remarkable for its di¬ rectness and simplicity. It tells the conflicting emotions of two men of entirely different temperaments in love with the same woman. One is a poet, visionary to the extreme, and who goes through life as in a dream. The other is the husband, tenderly loving toward his wife at times; again selfish and brutal. These men, intense¬ ly jealous of each, each is consumed by a burning hatred. Their experi¬ ences on the battlefield cause them to find their true selves and a firm friend¬ ship replaces the former intense dis¬ like. In the absence of husband and lover, the wife falls into the hands of the enemy. After four years she es¬ capes, returning with her child to her native town in France. The poet has been invalided out of service. To him the woman tells her st6ry and asks protection for her child from her husband’s anger. The husband comes home, finds the child, and instantly accuses his friend, the poet. The true story of the infant’s parentage is told; the two men join forces to avenge the mother, and return to the battle front. The husband is killed; the poet be¬ comes insane. In the latter’s disor¬ dered mind there arises a hallucination and when he gets home he calls all the villagers together and tells them of a vision in which the battle slain were resurrected in order that they might learn if their sacrifice had been worth while. Then those who had been unfaithful to their soldier kin; those who had profited at the expense of the men at the front, and those who had accepted the sacrifice for their own selfish ends, were branded with the infamy they deserved. The picture is not a war film, but an accusation of war and teaches the lesson of peace. GREAT PICTURE CONDEMNS ALL WAR Laughter, pathos and tragedy inter¬ woven with consummate skill; acting so superb that the characters seem ac¬ tually to live their parts; surprisingly beautiful settings and photography, and thrills that abound from start to finish; all these and more are found in Abel Gance’s sensational film pro¬ duction, “I Accuse,” which is the feat¬ ure picture at the .. as pre¬ sented by the United Artists Corpor¬ ation. “I Accuse” is in no sense a war film, but rather an accusation and con¬ demnation of all war and a 100 per cent, argument teaching the lesson of peace, and particularly the proper care of the wounded American soldier by the government. The story is told with a directness not often observed in motion pictures and portrays Edith, the beautiful wife and the woman <|f tragedy, her husband Francis, whose love for her is a mix¬ ture of tenderness and brutality, and John, a poet and visionary, but not at all the conventional weak type. He also loves Edith and there is an in¬ tense but submerged hatred between the two men. War comes and on the battlefield Francis and John experi¬ ence hardships that bring about a mu¬ tual understanding that results in a deep and firm friendship. With both husband and lover away Edith falls into the hands of the en¬ emy. Four years later she escapes, returning home with her baby. John, the poet, is invalided back and to him Edith appeals for protection from her husband’s anger when he shall learn of the child. Francis returns on leave, and accusees John. This causes Edith to explain the German parentage of the infant. Francis and John vow to avenge her and return to the battle front. The husband is slain and the lover is driven insane. John wanders back to his home, and there spends an entire night calling to¬ gether the villagers on the plea that he has a story he would tell. To the crowd he relates a vision of the battle¬ field that has sprung from his disor¬ dered mind. He tells of a miracle in which the battle slain were brought to life in order that they might ascertain if their sacrifice had been in vain or had made the world a better place to live in. Then comes the scene from which the picture gets it title. “I Accuse,” cries John, and then he takes his hearers individually and accuses them, men and women; he ac¬ cuses them of infidelity to their soldier husbands at the front; of profiting meanly by the deaths of the fighters, and of enriching themselves while safely at home through the great sac¬ rifice of the men in the ranks of war. The picture is magnificently photo¬ graphed, and is in all ways far super¬ ior to the ordinary .film feature. UNUSUALLY STRONG PICTURE, “I ACCUSE” A husband, at times tenderly loving and at times brutal and selfish, a poet and dreaming visionary, and a woman of tragedy, loved passionately by both men, are the central figures in Abel Gance’s sensational film production, “I Accuse,” presented by the United Ar¬ tists Corporation, and the feature this week at the . “I Accuse” runs the gamut of all the human emotions, and laughter, tears and tragedy are interwoven with the skill for which Mr. Gance is noted in France and other countries of Europe, where this picture created a tremen¬ dous sensation wherever shown. In addition there is action from start to finish and there are thrills in abund¬ ance—thrills that grip and hold the spectator and make him realize to the full the real lesson of the picture. The acting is superb and the characters seem actually to live their parts, so simply and naturally do they pictur- ize the woman, the husband and the poet. The story is simple and is portrayed with a remarkable simplicity and di¬ rectness. Mr. Gance has dispensed with many of the ordinary devices in the construction of this film and there¬ fore has achieved a result that is sin¬ gularly lacking in theatricality. Fran¬ cis, the husband, and John, the poet, are intensely jealous of each other, but on the battlefield they reach a com¬ plete understanding and become the staunchest of friends. In their ab¬ sence, Edith, the wife, falls into the hands of the enemy. Four years later she escapes, to return with her child. She asks the poet to protect her from the anger of her husband. The hus¬ band, finding the child, accuses his friend, thus causing his wife to tell the true story of the child’s parentage. Then the men join forces and return to the battle front to avenge the woman. The husband loses his life, and the poet becomes insane. He returns to his native village, with the hallucina¬ tion that he has seen ia vision in which the soldier slain were brought to life that they might determine if their sac¬ rifice had or had not been in vain. He calls together all the villagers and re¬ lates this vision, and in this scene the picture gets its title. “I Accuse,” he cries, and then charges infidelity on the part of the woman to their husbands at the front, alleges that others have profiteered through the deaths of their friends and neighbors and accuses others of enriching themselves by the great sac¬ rifice of the men who went to the fir¬ ing line. In addition to the superb photo¬ graphy, the artistic settings and the general excellence of the production, there is a musical score of unusual worth which was drawn from the world’s greatest composers. PICTURE ARGUES FOR UNIVERSAL DISARMAMENT There are those who will see in “I Accuse,” Abel Gance’s great film pro¬ duction, presented by the United Ar¬ tists Corporation, and the feature pic¬ ture at the.Theatre for .. a splendidly pictured argu¬ ment in favor of that much discussed subject, universal disarmament; and there are still others who may find support for their contention that the government has faiiled, and is contin¬ uing to fail, in taking proper care of the wounded American soldier. For “I Accuse” is not in any sense a “war picture,” so-called, but quite the re¬ verse, and stands out boldly as a most realistically presented accusation and condemnation of all war. In addition to the broad lesson it teaches, “I Accuse” contains all the elements that enter into a truly great picture. In it is portPayed all the great human emotions, and laughter, pathos and tragedy are intermingled with remarkable skill, while the dra¬ matic action, the thrill and the well- suspended interest that film enthusi¬ asts have come to demand in their motion pictures all are found in great abundance from the first to the last. The story itself centers round three chief characters. There is the hero¬ ine, wife of a man sometimes tenderly loving, and other times selfishly bru¬ tal. The third in the trio is a poet and a dreamer, who is in love with the woman. Born of their jealousy, the two men keep smothered an intense hatred for each other. Their firing line hardships bring about a clear un¬ derstanding each of the other, and a fine type of friendship results. The woman is taken by the enemy, to es¬ cape after four years and return home with her baby. The husband returns on leave to find his wife and her child, and instantly to accuse the poet who previously had been sent back an invalid. The wife tells the story of her experiences when deported and explains the parentage of the infant. The men join in vows to avenge her and return to the battle- front. One only returns, the husband falling in battle. The poet comes home with with health shattered and mind broken. Fie calls the villagers to¬ gether to relate a vision—a miracle, and it is from this scene that the pic¬ ture gets its title, “I Accuse.” “I Accuse,” cries the poet, charging infidelity on the part of women, mean profiteering on the part of men, and selfish use of the sacrifice by the sol¬ diers to further the perspnal ambitions of those who remained safely at home. This accusation grows out of a hallu¬ cination on the part of the poet that he had seen the dead on the battlefield come to life that they might learn for themselves if their sacrifice had been in vain, or if through their giving their lives the world had become a better place in which to live.