8 July 2013 | carleeee
Rooting for the Underdog
Émile is like the Julian Assange of 19th Century France, though certainly less dramatic. He comes under intense criticism as his books gain popularity and the censors are under pressure from the government and the French Army to stop them. The Dreyfus Affair was still well-known at the time of the film's release, but as a person watching for the first time 75 years later I got a little lost. I failed to see the connection between the two seemingly unrelated sub-plots and the ensuing period where there was little to no appearance of the film's namesake. This was eventually cleared up for me but the reliance on assumed knowledge was not very forward-thinking. One quibble is that the women did not seem to age, I had a similar complaint watching Cimarron; throughout the decades covered by the film Zola got older and cuddlier, Dreyfus aged even more...yet their wives hardly aged a day. I wish I knew their secret. Snaps for Joseph Schildkraut whose portrayal of Captain Alfred Dreyfus scored him an Oscar® for Best Supporting Actor. It was a good film and certainly highlighted the level of corruption in France at that time, as well as rooting for the underdog. I must procure one of Zola's books and check him out.