Wednesday, December 21, 2011

108. Life of Emile Zola

Life of Emile Zola

I finished reading Nana about a week ago because I knew this movie was coming up and I wanted to be prepared.  Actually, the film is more about the Dreyfus affair than Nana which is just as well because I thought Nana was repetitive (speaking of which, how many times can I say Nana in one paragraph?).

For those of you who don't know (I was in this category approximately an hour ago) the Dreyfuss scandal happened when a Jewish officer was accused of leaking military secrets.  Dreyfuss was convicted with very little evidence and exiled.  Zola wrote an article defending Dreyfus and was consequently convicted of libel.  I found this movie to be pretty interesting, although I always think biopics drag on a little too long.

Overall, it was a good film though not very exciting.  I am going to have to go watch a trashy action film after this.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Zola roomed with Paul Cezanne.

Nominated for ten Oscars (it won Best Picture, Supporting Actor, and Screenplay).

Zola died of carbon monoxide poisoning.  A Parisian roofer said on his deathbed that he had killed Zola for political reasons.



  1. Impressive that they could make a lengthy movie about the Dreyfus affair without ever mentioning he was Jewish.

  2. It was written on the bit of paper when they identified him from a list at the beginning, in a way suggesting that they were inclined to single him out for being Jewish. After typing that I've just read that your point is generally recognised and that it is alleged that all references to his Jewishness were removed from the script by the studio boss. I wonder if the written bit I saw was the film makers' way of including anyway?

    The Dreyfuss Affair and the way it divided France and even inadvertently led to the creation of the Tour de France bike race is fascinating from several different angles. I'm surprised that there haven't been more efforts to dramatise it in film.

  3. It was interesting. Are you guys Zola fans? I recently read L'Assommoir, which I think you guys would find too preachy.

  4. I confess I'd never heard of him before I saw this film on the list. In fact (*blushes*) when I saw that Paul Muni was playing him I thought he might be some Spanish revolutionary.