"J'Accuse" is one of the great French films from the silent era. Directed by Abel Gance in 1919, it tells the story of a love triangle, against the backdrop of the First World War. Partly filmed on real battlefields, this is one of the earliest anti-war movies, showing the impact of war not only on soldiers (death, injury and insanity) but also on civilians (rape and sorrow).
The film has become most famous for its poignant scene of the "return of the dead": fallen soldiers raising from their graves to return to their villages, warning the living their deaths should not have been in vain. Although Gance stated that the film was al about the "stupidity" of war, I agree with the interpretation that this scene makes "J'Accuse" also a nationalistic or patriotic film. As a result it makes the film moralistic.
The technical quality of the film is after almost 100 years still amazing today and the usage of mobile camera shots makes "J'accuse' very vivid. As with a lot of films from the early era, the film has been re-edited to suit different audiences in different countries. After restoration by the Dutch film museum in 2008, this DVD-box contains the most complete version of the original to date and includes a thick booklet full of interesting background information about (the making of) "J'Accuse".
For me "J'Accuse" is in the same league as "Im Westen nicht neues" (All quiet on the Western Front) and should be part of any film historian's or early movies fan's collection.