He’s best known as a cinematic magician but Georges Méliès made quite a few torn-from-the-headlines motion pictures, including this one. The persecution of Alfred Dreyfus was the most controversial topic in France with citizens from around the world divided into opposing camps.
Méliès produced a sympathetic, pro-Dreyfus film series and it’s a fascinating time capsule. While he does not directly address antisemitism, Méliès does make it clear that Dreyfus was innocent. And some of that cinematic magic comes through with animated lightning bolts.
How does it end? Hover or tap below for a spoiler.The film series ended before the Dreyfus Affair did and it concludes with Dreyfus being returned to jail.
Read my full-length review here. I cover Dreyfus films made from the 1890s to the 1990s.
If it were a dessert it would be: Watergate Cake. Absolutely of the moment and all the more valuable for it.
Availability: Released on the Melies box set from Flicker Alley.
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It’s always interesting to see a film about a historic event (Dreyfus, WWI, moon landing, etc) where we know the outcome but the filmmakers didn’t because it hadn’t happened yet.
I went back to your full-length review and enjoyed the comparisons of the Melies and later sound versions. Also a good reminder of how interpretations of past events are colored by the time in which the film is produced, as with the 1937 ‘Zola’ made during the Nazi and Production Code era.
Yes, it’s amazing how the same historical events were reframed with each motion picture era.
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