Abel Gance

T.it.: Per la patria; Scen.: Abel Gance; F.: Marc Bujard, Léonce-Henri Burel, Maurice Forster; M.: Andrée Danis, Abel Gance; Scgf.: Henry Mahé; Ass. R.: Blaise Cendrars; Int.: Romuald Joubé (Jean Diaz), Séverin-Mars (François Laurin), Maryse Dauvray (Edith Laurin), Maxime Desjardins (Maria Lazare), Mme Mancini (la madre di Jean), Angèle Guys (Angele), Elizabeth Nizan, Pierre Danis; Prod.: Pathé 35mm. L.: 2989 m. D.: 131’ a 20 f/s. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

What strikes one immediately about Abel Gance’s film is its abundance, its abundance of new riches, banal weaknesses and bad taste. I adore this magnificent ordered mess and I admire Abel Gance when he lets himself go completely and becomes a flaming torch, a flame that destroys but also lights everything up far into the distance. Every time Gance has disciplined himself, held himself back or listened to the voice of reason he has impoverished his work. The second version of J’accuse is peremptory. When reviewed and corrected the film loses all the fiery impetus that comes from its exuberance and visual magniloquence, which attracted and excited us even when we dismissed or reacted against it. Gance must be either totally accepted or rejected.

This director never seduces me more than when he shakes his drama up and creates emotion, without separating the gold from the gangue. It is as if he were tearing out his own heart or tossing his head to the mob. Here, ingenuity has a price to pay.

Léon Moussinac, Naissance du cinéma, Editions d’aujourd’hui, 1983

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with the permission of Nelly Kaplan