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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

J'Accuse aka "I Accuse" [Blu-ray]

 

(Abel Gance, 1938)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

NOTE: the 1919 version of J'Accuse, also directed by Gance, is reviewed HERE.

 

Production:

Theatrical: Forrester-Parant Productions

Video: Olive Films / BFI

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' / Region 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:59:12.145 / 2:00:06.708

Disc Size: 24,667,364,856 bytes / 32,346,376,739 bytes

Feature Size: 24,459,393,024 bytes / 31,004,649,408 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.00 Mbps / 28.17 Mbps

Chapters: 9 / 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 15th, 2016 / July 24th, 2017

 

Video (both):

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio French 1835 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1835 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

 

LPCM Audio French 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

 

Subtitles (both):

English, None

 

Extras:

• None

New audio commentary by Paul Cuff
Stills and special collections gallery (5:32)
Illustrated booklet with full film credits, reviews and a new essay by Paul Cuff

 

Bitrate:

1) Olive - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Description: J'accuse, director Abel Gance s (Napoleon) indictment of war, is a tale of romance and idealism in the tradition of Tolstoy's War and Peace and Jean Renoir's La Grande Illusion.

Set against the backdrop of World War I, the idealistic poet Jean Diaz (Victor Francen, A Farewell to Arms), in pursuit of a higher calling, having witnessed the horrors of war, seeks to create a technology that will put an end to future bloodshed.

Jean's hopes for a peaceful resolution are soon dashed when investor Henri Chimax (Jean-Max, Satan s Paradise) appropriates Jean's plans knowing that another world war, looming on the horizon, will profit him financially.

J'accuse features supporting performances by Line Noro (Pépé le Moko), Paul Amiot (Le Cercle Rouge), André Nox (Savage Brigade) and Marie Lou (The Woman Thief).

Directed by Abel Gance, J'accuse (which used his epic 1919 silent screen version as a template) is both a stirring indictment of man s inhumanity to man and man s capacity for love and compassion.

 

 

The Film:

After surviving the bloodshed of World War I, soldier Jean Diaz (Victor Francen) sacrifices his dream of being a poet for a far more important pursuit: ending war. Turning to science, Diaz dedicates himself to creating technology that will make combat obsolete. Bankrolling the project is tycoon Henri Chimax (Jean Max). But, when World War II becomes imminent, Chimax sees an opportunity to bolster the French war effort -- and swipes Diaz's pacifist invention so it can be used by the army.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

In the first third, Gance reprises his 1918 film of the same title, in the second third he carries the story forward, and the final third is something else again. Exploring the old Verdun battlefield in a thunderstorm, trench veteran Francen undergoes some unspecified transforming experience. Later, with world conflict about to break out again, he invokes the spirits of the war dead who, in an echo of the earlier picture, rise up and parade about reproachfully. A 'Universal Council' is convened, the war is called off, the dead return to their graves. Historically, these passages are an invaluable complement to Munich '38. As cinema, their unself-conscious absurdity and vulgarity (genuine disfigured veterans alongside extras in ghoul make-up) mark them as pure Gance.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The 1938 version of Abel Gance's J'Accuse arrives on Blu-ray from Olive Films (you can see a review the 1919 version on Flicker Alley DVD HERE.) This is only single-layered and the presentation reflects the source used - with a few inconsistencies but density was not one of them. Actually, I found the weaknesses quite minor and I loved the thick, consistent grain. Vintage war footage is the most damaged (see below) but the rest of the feature looked impressive. Understandably, there is no real depth but this 1080P, in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio, provides a strong presentation. Contrast is excellent and black levels are pitch.  The Blu-ray is a fabulous way to see this amazing film in your home theater.

 

The BFI is dual-layered with a higher bitrate but most won't notice a demonstrative improvement. It does, marginally, look better in-motion and seems to export the grain more consistently when zoomed-in.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

1) Olive - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

1) Olive - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

1) Olive - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Audio is transferred to a DTS-HD Master mono (original) track at 1835 kbps (24-bit). There is a score by Henri Verdun. The audio quality is, of course, at the mercy of the source - but the lossless rendering probably helped with any balance issues - improving depth in war-related aggression - and it sounded strong and fairly consistent to my ears. It is all predictably flat but very audible and supportive. There are optional English (yellow font - see samples) subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

BFI use a linear PCM 2.0 channel track - also 24-bit - and it sounds about the same to my ears. The score by Henri Verdun suits the film extremely well and the film's more aggressive audio requirements come through, probably, we produced. The BFI has optional English subtitles on their Region 'B'-locked Blu-ray disc.

 

 

Extras :

No supplements - not even a trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with the majority of their releases.

 

While the Olive provided nothing in the way of supplements, BFI add a new audio commentary by Paul Cuff giving important historical reference to the film and an analysis of Gance's work - highly educational. There is also a stills and special collections gallery and the package has a liner notes booklet with an illustrated booklet with full film credits, reviews and a new essay by Paul Cuff.

 

Olive - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

BOTTOM LINE:
J'Accuse is quite a bit different, and in many ways better, from Gance's 1919 version. A typically brilliant mis-en-scene from the director - this is a bona-fide masterpiece. It condemns war, and its effects, while floating tension and suspense throughout the narrative of another layer of the story. Wow. The bare-bones Olive Blu-ray provides a very pleasing HD presentation.  The richness of the textures are impressive but the value here is primarily in the film. This is very strongly recommended!

 

The BFI Blu-ray eclipses the Olive in every area to varying degrees. It's the one to own and has our highest recommendation! 

Gary Tooze

November 18th, 2016

July 28th, 2017

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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