~Promotional photograph from The
California Theater promoting the screening
of the film "J'accuse," on Sunday, January
22, 1919~
France's innovative film pioneer Abel Gance had already served briefly in World War I, but he
enlisted again so he could film hair-raising footage of soldiers under fire. He used the shots in this
compelling anti-war epic, which originally ran 14 reels (it was cut down to ten for release in the U.S.,
which unfortunately damaged its continuity). Marie Lazare (Marise Dauvray) is forced by her father
(Maxime des Jardins) to marry the much-older Francois Laurin (Severin-Mars), even though she's
in love with Jean Diaz, a poet (Romuald Joube). The jealous Laurin goes wild at the idea that his
young wife may have betrayed him. When the World War breaks out, he goes to the front. Diaz, a
pacifist, stays home until Marie is captured by the Germans. Then he enlists and winds up being in
command over Laurin. Over the course of four years, the two men become friends. Diaz gets trench
fever and is sent home. Marie returns with a baby -- she was raped by several of her captors and
does not know which one is the baby's father. When Laurin comes home, he mistakenly believes
that the child is Diaz's. After he is convinced he was wrong, he goes back to his regiment, and is
killed in the fighting. Diaz also returns to battle and is wounded. He comes home, but he has lost his
mind. He has a vision in which the dead return from their graves to see if their loved ones are
worthy of their sacrifice. He dies, leaving Marie alone with her child. Gance would create a masterful
remake of this film in 1937.

Plot Synopsis by Janiss Garza from allmovie.com

Romuald Joubé ...  Jean Diaz
Séverin-Mars ...  François Laurin
Maryse Dauvray ...  Edith Laurin
Maxime Desjardins ...  Maria Lazare
Angèle Guys ...  Angele
Mancini ...  Jean's Mother
Elizabeth Nizan   
Pierre Danis
Directed & Written by: Abel Gance
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~Plot Synopsis~
~Remaining Credits~

Produced & Released by: Pathé Frères

Producer: Charles Pathé
Cinematography by: Marc Bujard, Léonce-Henri Burel & Maurice Forster
Film Editing by: Andrée Danis & Abel Gance
Assistant Director: Blaise Cendrars

Runtime: 166 Minutes
Released: April 25, 1919
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