A chronological survey
of screen adaptations of Zola’s fiction
and his influence on early realist film aesthetics
by Russell Cousins. The University of Birmingham
Since the early days of film as a fairground spectacle, Zola’s contribution to this fledgling entertainment industry can be traced in two ways. Firstly, through the many, often unacknowledged, borrowings from his popular fiction and, secondly, on the evolution of realist film aesthetics through his influential promotion of Naturalist drama.
Initially, pioneering filmmakers captivated audiences either through documentary records of everyday life or trick films contrived in theatrical studios with special effects often derived from the conjurer’s art.
In the documentary field, the Lumière brothers, for example, focussed on capturing everyday scenes under the motto ‘la nature sur le vif’ (nature in the raw). These first documentaries, limited to one minute running time by the size of the camera spool, embraced subjects such as workers leaving a factory, La Sortie de l’usine Lumière à Lyon:1895 [Employees leaving the Lumière Factory]; intimate domestic moments such as Le Gouter de bébé: 1895 [Baby’s Breakfast], or Une partie de cartes: 1896 [Playing Cards], but they also startled audiences with images of a train rushing towards them; L’arrivée d’un train à la Ciotat:1896 [The Arrival of a Train].
The magician Georges Méliès , on the other hand, saw a different potential in film and brought his theatrical experience as an illusionist to bear. He enthralled audiences with fake studio-filmed newsreels purporting to show contemporary events such as L’affaire Dreyfus: 1899 [The Dreyfus affair], significant moments in history; Le Sacre d’Edouard VII: 1902 [The Coronation of Edward VII]; or natural disasters as they happened, such as Eruption volcanique à la Martinique: 1902 [The Terrible Eruption of Mount Pele and Destruction of St. Pierre , Martinique]. His masterpiece, however, was Le Voyage dans la lune: 1902 [A Trip to the moon] lasting some eleven minutes in short, connected episodes. The science-fiction film had been born.
These twin realisations that film could both record everyday realities and project theatrically constructed fictions, gave rise to the categorization of films as either documentaries or features. Readers of Zola will already recognize these two interwoven stands in his ambitions for the Rougon-Macquart series; a reality-based, documentary-style account of his fictional family’s fortunes set in Second Empire France: L’histoire naturelle et sociale d’une famille sous le Second Empire.
As critics have observed, there are intriguing similarities between Zola’s approach to composition and the creative processes of the later film practitioners. The author’s method may be summarized as follows: initial ideas for character and plot outlined in his ébauche were gradually refined through successive multi-layered chapter drafts. This material was informed by exploratory visits to narrative locations to ensure period accuracy and to give a better understanding of the relationship between individuals and their environment. A character list, with brief descriptions and summaries of motivation and role in the narrative completed the raw material for his composition. All these steps may be seen to prefigure preparations taken in film production: a narrative treatment for the proposed feature is established; script writers are employed to further refine and flesh out the action; research is undertaken to identify appropriate locations and to establish period authenticity and, importantly, key actors are cast in the main roles.
From the outset, producers clearly recognised in Zola’s enduring popularity an unrivalled box-office guarantee. As a creator of powerful, narratives, rich in visual detail and featuring memorable characters, he had provided vital ingredients for virtually ready-made film scenarios. Filmmakers, notably Sergi Eisenstein, and literary critics, such as Armand Lanoux and Henri de Forge, reflected on the intrinsic cinematic potential of Zola’s writing. For de Forge ‘Zola voyait ciné’ - a cinematic vision, while established screenwriters concurred. Charles Spaak asserted that reworking Thérèse Raquin (Carné: 1953) and Germinal (Allégret; 1963) was in effect ‘du gâteau’ - a piece of cake. It is not at all surprising then, that countless films and adaptations for television have drawn inspiration, directly or indirectly, from Zola’s narratives.
During those pioneering days of narrative film production, technical limitations, such as the camera’s brief spool capacity, constrained directors to create short self-contained episodes based in theatrical conventions which were recorded by a fixed studio camera. Necessarily silent, these early adaptations were a distillation of Zola’s narratives into short tableaux linked by explanatory intertitles. Thus in 1902 Ferdinand Zecca produced a plagiarized version of L’Assommoir in five tableaux as Les Victimes de l’alcoolisme [The Victims of Alcohol] followed in 1903 by La Grève [The Strike], derived from Germinal. In 1905 this novel also became the unacknowledged inspiration for Lucien Nonguet’s Au pays noir [The Toll of Labour] and a more ambitious version Au Pays des ténèbres [The Great Mine Disaster] from Victorin Jasset in 1912.
To combat this exploitation of an author’s intellectual property, in 1908 Charles Pathé established the Société cinématographique des auteurs et gens de lettres (SCAGL) whose purpose was to produce faithful quality screen versions approved by authors or their rightful heirs. With the influential director Albert Capellani as head of production, among the studio’s first literary adaptations was another, more substantial, version of l’Assommoir (1909) which now retained Zola’s given title and became the first French film to run for some 36 minutes. Four years later the director returned to Zola to make an acclaimed feature-length version of Germinal (1913) which combined existing documentary footage with sequences partly shot on location which ran for 150 minutes. However, nothing could match Pouctal’s detailed transposition in seven episodes of Travail (1919) [Work] which originally lasted nearly eight hours. In all, over forty identified films were inspired by Zola’s work during the silent period and several are recognised as milestones in the transformation of film to the status of an art form - le septième art. Film historians have acknowledged, for example, the seminal importance of Capellani’s Germinal (1913 ; Travail (Pouctal:1919); La Terre (André Antoine: 1921); L’Assommoir (Charles Madru:1921); Pour une nuit d’amour (Protozanoff:1921); Nana (Jean Renoir:1926); Thérèse Raquin (Jacques Feyder:1926) and L’Argent (Marcel l’Herbier:1928).
These ever more ambitious ‘picturizations’ of novels such as Germinal, La Terre, Travail and L’Argent illustrate the advances made in film production during the silent period .With the progressive introduction of portable studios and mobile cameras with more film capacity, sequences could now be shot on location thus breaking with the theatrical artificiality of staged scenes in studio-based filming. For Travail, Pouctal was able to shoot sequences in factories and in the streets while in making La Terre, Antoine was similarly able to film sequences in the countryside of la Beauce and inside genuine farm buildings. The dynamic relationship between the individual and environment, so fundamental to Zola’s Naturalist intent, could now be much more powerfully conveyed than in the static limitations of studio theatrical staging. The advantages of the more mobile camera also allowed new visual perspectives to be created. In his version of L’Argent, l’Herbier also deployed mobile cameras in his expanded studios to capture the movement of characters from several angles and created aerial perspectives by hoisting cameras high above the actors, thus reflecting Zola’s own bird’s eye descriptions of activity in and around Bourse. In addition, for the first time in a production based on Zola, sound effects were provided for the ball sequence and the flight of an overhead aircraft. Self-evidently lacking during this era of largely silent, black-and white films was Zola’s evocation of sound and colour so essential to his narratives.
The presence of Zola in the film industry is felt not only through such adaptions but also more broadly in the evolution of realist film aesthetics. The naturalist aesthetic which Zola promoted in the theatre became part of film practice through the work of stage directors such as Antoine who had enthusiastically applied Zola’s ideas to drama productions at the Théâtre libre. In these first attempts at a more naturalistic, less theatrical, conception of cinema often incorporating local people filmed in their own surroundings, can be seen the distant origins of subsequent realist and neo-realist, documentary style film movements.
As screen adaption evolved, the conscious, reverential attempts at fidelity to Zola’s vision and practice eventually gave way to more personal and challenging interpretations in often updated transpositions. Film versions, it was argued, should be more than simple picturizations of the printed word. Literary traditionalists however, took exception to modernized and inflected readings which traduced Zola’s detailed source narratives firmly anchored in Second Empire France. L’Argent became a case in point. L’Herbier transposed the action to a contemporary Bourse setting and reworked both narrative and characters. Zola’s moral, but naive, Suez canal engineer committed to the common good, is now transformed into an intrepid, buccaneering aviator crossing the Atlantic in a celebration of individual enterprise and personal gain. A court case with Zola’s heirs ensued with controversy raging in the press about the established rights of the author and those of the creative filmmaker.
Versions inflected through the prism of the director’s personal value system, or the national mores of the time, increased in number. Such readings have frequently provided valuable new insights into Zola’s creations though some have been little more than crudely exploitative, commercial undertakings. Nana has provided fertile territory for disparate filmmakers. After Renoir’s sanitized silent version in 1926, largely conceived to promote the career of his wife Catherine Hessling, in 1934 Louis B. Meyer similarly used Zola’s story to launch his new Ukranian starlet Anna Stenn. Directed by Dorothy Arzner as Lady of the Boulevards (1934), this show-piece film acquired a feminist edge which provoked hostile reactions in France. The practice of shaping the narrative as a star vehicle can be seen again in 1955 when Christian-Jaque reworked Nana to show off the talents of his wife Martine Carole. The lavish spectacle, using cinemascope and colour for the first time in a Zola-based film lacks all social critique and the harsh realities of the original story. Notably, Nana is now blessed with a singing voice Zola’s original actress never had and is spared her descent into prostitution and an ugly death from smallpox. Subsequently, arguably reflecting modern shifts in moral perspectives, there have been more exploitative versions of the text. In 1970, Mac Alberg provided French audiences with a colourful essay in eroticism titled La Poupée d’amour which for English audiences became Take me, love me. A decade later Dan Wolman’s voyeuristic Nana, the True Key of pleasure (1982) featured the soft-porn actress Kataya Berger with Mandy Rice-Davis as Sabine. Sequences of nude women chased on horseback through trees and Nana escaping Paris in a hot-air balloon are indicative of the film’s questionable approach.
However, in the pathway from Zola’s texts to the screen, the presence of the star cannot be discounted. Julien Duvivier exploited the romantic image of Gérard Philipe as the seducer Octave Mouret in an entertaining, if saccharine, version of Pot-Bouille (1957) [House of lovers]. Similarly, in his dark version of La Bête humaine (1938), with Jean Gabin as a tormented Jacques, Renoir played to his star’s image as the ill-fated, tragically flawed proletarian hero given to trade-mark bursts of anger. Again in La Curée (1965) [The Game is over], Roger Vadim updated Zola’s narrative to the decadent sixties and focused not on Saccard’s corrupt financial dealings but on René’s incestuous relationship with Maxime. The shift of emphasis provided him with the opportunity to film his wife Jane Fonda in various seductive states of undress in what has become known as her ‘nudie-cutie’ phase.
A further range of inflections can be witnessed in successive reworkings of Thérèse Raquin. In 1953 Marcel Carné, with Simone Signoret as Thérèse, reworked Zola’s naturalistic vision of trapped individuals to create an existentialist drama about choices, now shifting the location from Paris to Lyon and turning Zola’s complacent artist Laurent into a more adventurous, freedom-loving, Italian, lorry driver. In 2009, the Korean director Park Chan-Wook with Bakjwi [Thirst] assimilated Zola’s text into his vampire genre while loosely working with the tale of sexual passion, murder and guilt. Here Zola’s artist Laurent becomes a priest involved in HIV medical trials which turn him into a vampire sucking the blood of hospital patients. Disturbing graphic and explicit scenes follow with the haunting return of the murdered Camille sharing the bed of the guilty lovers. More recently, however, Charlie Stratton’s Hollywood version In Secret (2013) returns to the more faithful style of adaptation. Here there is a traditional plot reading in terms of character and events with careful attention given to historical detail and the evocation of Mme Raquin’s claustrophobic shop.
Three versions of La Bête humaine provide further examples of individual approaches. Although Renoir shifted the action of La Bête humaine (1938) [Judas was a woman] to contemporary France he respected the mood and spirit of Zola’s exposure of corruption and flawed human beings. The film is notably prefaced by a portrait of Zola and a quotation from the text. This implied fidelity cannot be said of Fritz Lang’s 1954 American version Human Desire featuring Glenn Ford as Jeff (Jacques Lantier) and Gloria Grahame as Vicki (Séverine). Jeff is no longer Zola’s flawed and fated protagonist but a likeable, innocent, Korean war hero steeped in American domestic values, who falls victim to Gloria Grahame as a femme fatale. The reading given to Zola’s text is essentially an assimilation into the Hollywood film noir of the period. Finally Cruel Train (1996), conceived as a telefilm, transposes the action to the Brighton line and London during the Blitz. In this bleak time of insecurity and confusing, moral uncertainties the narrative mirrors Zola’s telling exposure of political and social corruption. The low-budget production, partly filmed in a disused Birmingham factory, is magnificently enhanced by the outstanding performances of Adrian Dunbar as Jack Dando (Jacques), Saskia Reeves as Selina Roberts (Séverine) and David Suchet as Ruben Roberts (Roubaud).
Nevertheless, the tradition of respecting the author’s Second Empire setting has persisted notably in Au Bonheur des dames, la Faute de l’Abbé Mouret, Germinal, Gervaise, Pot-Bouille and the versions of Nana by Christian-Jaque and Renoir. However, as witnessed in these visualisations of Nana, fidelity to the given period does not guarantee fidelity to Zola’s values, critical vision or narrative structure. Allégret’s Germinal, scripted by Charles Spaak, for example, is a swift-moving truncated version, focussing more on action than the broader political and social themes and carries a less than sympathetic portrayal of striking miners. On the other hand, René Clément in Gervaise (1955) provides a detailed, carefully researched account of the Parisian working class life, even to the point of reconstructing an original nineteenth century public washhouse for the fight between Gervaise and Virginie. His major modification is deploying a more subjective narrative viewpoint with his female protagonist relating her tragic life in a series of flashback dissolves and voice-overs. Pot Bouille, [House of Lovers],1957, enriched by additional dialogue by Henri Jeanson, borrows episodes from Au Bonheur des dames and is more an engaging romantic costume drama than a condemnation of the exploitation of shopgirls and their hardships. Finally La Faute de l’abbé Mouret, [The Demise of Father Mouret], 1972, while respecting Zola’s historical setting and reflecting his lyrical evocations of nature and young love, the film is permeated with Franju’s fiercely anticlerical views.
Adaptations of Zola’s novels have also been controversial in other ways. In 1993. Claude Berri’s much-trailed big-budget version of Germinal became caught up in the negotiations between France and the US over GATT audio-visual agreements on film quotas. The film, the most expensive in French film history with a budget exceeding 170 million francs, was conceived as a spectacle to rival Hollywood blockbusters. The production values are high with realistic representations of mines and a miner’s life. Starring Depardieu as Maheud , Miou-MIou as La Maheude and Renaud as Etienne Lantier, the film was seen to embody a French cultural tradition of quality filmmaking dealing with issues important to the nation. Against this, Speilberg’s Jurassic Park, which appeared in box-office contention the same year, was dismissed as well-made escapism but with nothing serious to say.
It is increasingly the case, however, that many viewers will discover Zola, not through the cinema, but in televised serialisations or single telefilms. There are clearly limitations for the author’s large scale narratives on domestic screens, notably smaller production budgets and stricter family broadcasting conventions. Inevitably a bowdlerised distillation of the narrative is to be expected. Purists may object to such weekly segmentations of Zola’s fiction, but few readers can manage one of the Rougon-Macquart series in a single sitting, while the notion of serialising Zola is hardly new: the author’s novels regularly appeared in newspaper instalments prior to book publication in their yellow Fasquelle jackets. Television dissemination, with all its limitations, has provided the UK viewer with several memorable productions. In 1970 a creditable Germinal directed by David Turner was broadcast in five episodes with a cast including Rosemary Leach as La Maheude and Freddie Jones as Maheu. A decade later a sensual Kate Nelligan starred as Thérèse with Mona Washbourne as Mme Raquin in a three-part version of Thérèse Raquin (1980). While in 2012 and 2013 The Paradise, loosely derived from Au Bonheur des dames, enjoyed considerable popularity in a double season each of eight weekly episodes featuring several different directors. These versions are complemented by the telefilm Cruel Train (1996), discussed above.
Transpositions of Zola’s works and his part in the Dreyfus Affair have featured regularly on French TV since the early sixties. Works of fiction include : L’Argent; La Fortune des Rougon; Germinal; Nana; L’Oeuvre; Une Page d’amour; Pot-Bouille; Pour une nuit d’amour; Thérèse Raquin. Screen narratives dealing with the Dreyfus affair and/ or the author’s life have also been produced for TV and the cinema. After the limited, but often imaginative, dramatic reconstructions of the Dreyfus trial at the turn of the century more substantial treatments followed, such as: The Dreyfus Case. UK, (1931); The Life of Emile Zola, USA, (1937); J’Accuse, USA ,(1958); Prisoner of honor, USA, 1991. Further details of these productions together with documentaries and Dreyfus-related programmes are provided in the Filmography.
There are no signs that Zola’s enduring viability in film and TV productions has run its course. The Zola encountered through the prism of various film directors will often be very different to the print Zola experienced by his readers. As we have seen, his film heritage ranges from attempts at fidelity in the visual medium and serious, creative reworkings, to blatant exploitation, but all these disparate readings can provide insights into the richness of the author’s original narratives. In print Zola’s heritage is well established as is the abiding influence of his Naturalist theories in neo-realist performances on stage and screen. The final chapter detailing his ubiquitous creative presence in the media has yet to be written.
Films are listed according to source material. Alternative English distribution titles are given in square brackets.
Penge (1913). Denmark. Dir: Carl Manzius
L’Argent (1928). France. Dir: Marcel l’Herbier
L’Argent (1936). France. Dir: Pierre Billon
Le Rêve d’un buveur (1898). France. Dir: Ferdinand Zecca
Les Victimes de l’acoolisme (1902). France. Dir: Ferdinand Zecca , [Victims of Alcoholism]
Faldgruben (1903). Denmark. Dir: Carl d’Alstrup
L’Assommoir (1909). France. Dir: Albert Capellani
A Drunkard’s Reformation (1909). USA. Dir: David W. Griffith
Les Victimes de l’alcool (1911). France. Dir: Gérard Bourgeois, [Alcohol and its Victims]
Le Poison de l’humanité. (1911). France. Dirs : Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset and Emile Chautard[ An Accursed inheritance]
Drink (1917). UK. Sidney Morgan
L’Assommoir (1921). France. Dir : Charles Madru
The Struggle (1933). USA. David W. Griffith
L’Assommoir (1933). France. Dir: Gaston Roudès
Gervaise (1955). France. Dir : René Clément
L’Attaque du moulin
Attack on the Mill (1910). USA. Dir: Edwin S. Porter
Noc Poslubna (1959). Finland-Poland-Sweden. Dir: Erik Blomberg
La Bête humaine
La Bête humaine (1916). Italy. Dir : Leopoldo Carducci
Die Bestie im Menschen (1920).Germany. Dir : Ludwig Wolff [The Human Beast]
La Bête humaine (1938). France. Dir : Jean Renoir [Judas was a Woman]
Human Desire (1954). USA. Dir : Fritz Lang>
La Bestia humana (1956). Argentina. Dir : Daniel Tinayre
Au Bonheur des Dames
Au Ravissement des Dames (1931). France. Dir : Alfred Machin22). Germany. Dir : Lupu-Pick
Au Bonheur des Dames (1929). France. Dir : Julien Duvivier
Au Bonheur des Dames (1943). France. Dir : André Cayatte
La Cuccagna (1916). Italy. Dir : Baldassare Negroni
La Curée (1965). France. Dir : Roger Vadim. [The Game is Over]
Graïnsfolken (1913). Denmark. Dir : Mauritz Stiller
Novyi Babilon. (1928). USSR.. Dirs : Grégory Kosintsev and Léonid Trauberg
La Faute de l’abbé Mouret
La Faute de l’abbé Mouret. (1970). France -Italy. Dir : Georges Franju. [The Demise of Father Mouret]
Fécondité (1929). France. Dirs : Nikolai Evreinov and Henri Etrévant
La Grève. (1903). France. Dir : Ferdinand Zecca. [The Strike]
Au Pays noir (1905). France. Dir : Lucien Nonguet.[Tragedy in a Coal Mine]
Au Pays des ténèbres (1912). France. Dir : Victorin Jasset. [The Toll of Labour]
Germinal (1913) .France. Dir: Albert Capellani
Germinal (1963) France-Italy-Hungary. Dir: Yves Allégret
Germinal (1993) France. Dir: Claude Berri
Miraklet (1913). Sweden. Dir: V.Sjöström
Madelena Ferat (1921). Italy. Dir: Roberto Roberti.
Naïs (1945). France. Dirs : Marcel Pagnol and Marcel Leboursier.
Storstadens Hyaene (1912). Denmark. Dir : Knud Lumbye
Nana (1914). Italy. Dir : Camilio De Risa
Nana (1916). Italy. Dir : Nino Martoglio
Nana (1926). France. Dir : Jean Renoir
Lady of the Boulevards (1934). USA. Dir : Dorothy Arzner
Nana (1943) . Mexico. Dirs: Celestine Gorostiza and Roberto Gavaldon
Nana (1955). France. Dir: Christian-Jaque
La Poupée d’amour (1971). Sweden. Dir: Mac Ahlberg . [Take me, Love me]
Nana, the True Key of Pleasure (1983).USA. Dir: Dan Wolman
Nana (1985). Mexico. Dirs: Rafaël Baledon and José Bolanos.
Nantas (1918). Italy. Dir: Vincenzo Denizot
A Man and a Woman (1917). USA. Dirs: Herbert Blaché and Alice Guy
Nantas (1921).France. Dir: Donatien.
Une Page d’amour
Une pagina d’amore (1911). Italy. Dir : Pasquali
Una pagina d’amore (1923). Italy. Dir : Telemaco Ruggeri
Une page d’amour (1924). France. Dir : Pina Menichelli
Pot-Bouille (1957). France. Dir: Julien Duvivier. [House of Lovers]
Pour une nuit d’amour
Pour une nuit d’amour (1913).Denmark. Dir : August Blom
Per una notte d’amore (1914). Italy. Dir : Luigi Maggi
Pour une nuit d’amour (1921) France. Dir : Jacob Protozanoff
Pour une nuit d’amour (1946). France. Dir : Edmond T. Gréville
Manifesto (1988). USA. Dir : Dusan Makaejev.
Le Rêve (1920). France. Dir : Jacques de Baroncelli
Le Rêve (1931). France. Dir : Jacques de Baroncelli.
La Terre (1921). France. Dir : Victorin Jasset
La Terre (1921) France. Dir : André Antoine
This Filthy Earth (2001). UK. Dir : Andrew Kotting.
Thérèse Raquin (1911). Denmark. Dir: Einar Zangenberg
Thérèse Raquin (1915). Italy. Dir: Nino Martoglio
The Marble Heart (1916). USA. Dirs: Keenan Buel and Herbert Brenon
Thérèse Raquin (1926). France-Germany. Dir: Jacques Feyder [Thou Shall Not !]
Thérèse Raquin (1953). France-Italy. Dir: Marcel Carné [The Adulteress]
Na Koniec Swiata (1999). Poland. Dir: Magdalena Lazarkiswicz
Bakjwi (2009). Korea. Dir: Park Chan-Wook. [Thirst]
In Secret (2013). USA. Dir: Charlie Stratton.
Travail: Destruction (1915). USA. Dir : Will S. Davis (Film considered lost)
Travail (1919). France. Dir: Henri Pouctal.
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Television films and serializations of Zola’s fiction in the UK and France
Cruel Train (1995) from La Bête humaine. BBC 2. Dir : Malcolm Mckay. Telefilm.
Germinal (1970). BBC 1. Dir: David Turner. 5 episodes
Nana (1968). BBC 2. Dir: John Davies. 5 episodes
The Paradise (2012 and 2013) from Au Bonheur des Dames. BBC 2. Dir : David Drury, Mark Jobst, Sue Tully, Bill Gallagher. 2 series each of 8 episodes
Thérèse Raquin (1980) BBC 2. Dir: Simon Langton. 3 episodes
L’Argent. (1988). Dir: Jacques Rouffio. 3 episodes
La Fortune des Rougon (1980). Dir :Yves- André Hubert 5 episodes.
Germinal (1971). Dir: Jean Archimbaud
Germinal (1976). Dir: Nat Rabinovsky
Germinal (2021). France 2. Dir: David Hourrègue. 6 episodes
Madame Sourdis (1979). Dir: Caroline Huppert
Nana (1981). Dir: Maurice Cazeneuve. 4 episodes
Nadia Coupeau, dite Nana (2001). Dir : Edouard Molinaro. 2 episodes
L’Oeuvre (1967). Dir: Pierre Cardinal. Telefilm
Une Page d’amour (1980). Dir : Elie Chouraqui. Telefilm
Une Page d’amour (1995). Dir : Serge Moati. Telefilm
Pot-Bouille (1972). Yves-André Hubert. 5 episodes
Pour une nuit d’amour (2009). Dir : Gérard Jourd’hui. Telefilm
Thérèse Raquin (1960). Dir : Stellio Lorenzi. Telefilm
Films and Television serializations of the Dreyfus affair and Zola biopics
(a) Historical reconstructions, documentaries and telefilms
L’affaire Dreyfus (1899). France. Dir : Georges Méliès. 11 episodes. Thirteen minutes
L’affaire Dreyfus (1902). France. Dir : F. Zecca
L’affaire Dreyfus (1902). Pathé. Reconstructed scenes. 6 episodes
L’affaire Dreyfus (1907). France. Dir : L. Nonguet
L’affaire Dreyfus (1965). France. Dir : Jean Vigne. 15 mins.
L’affaire Dreyfus (1995). France. Dir : Yves Boisset. Telefim.
The Dreyfus Affair (1972).USA. Documentay. 15mins.
Dreyfus ou l’intolérable vérité. (1974) France . Dir Jean. A. Chérasse
Reasons of State. (1994). France Dir : Pierre Sorlin. 2 episodes
Rage and Outrage: The Dreyfus Affair (1995). France. Dir: Raoul Sangla. Telefilm.
Dreyfus (1930) Germany. Dir. R. Oswald
Dreyfus (1931). UK. Dirs: F.W. Kramer and Milton Rosmer
The Life of Emile Zola. (1937) USA. Dir: William Dieterle with Paul Muni as Zola
Emile Zola. (1955) France. Dir : Jean Vidal
I Accuse (1957) USA. Dir: José Ferrer with Emilyn Williams as Zola and Ferrer as Dreyfus
I am Innocent (1960). Greece. Dir: Dinos Katsouridis
L’affaire Dreyfus (1965). France. Dir: Jean Vigne
Prisoners of Honor (1991). UK. Dir Ken Russell with Richard Dreyfuss and Oliver Reed. Telefilm
L’affaire Dreyfus (1995) France. Dir: Yves Boisset. Telefilm
Le Sabre brisé. (1995) France. Dir: Paule Zajdermann
Rage and Outrage: The Dreyfus Affair (1995).Canada. Dir: Raoul Sangla
J’Accuse [An Officer and a Spy]. 2019. France. Dir: Roman Polanski with Louis Garrel as Dreyfus and André Marcon as Zola. Based on the novel by Robert Harris.
(c) Television programmes
Zola ou la conscience humaine (1978). Dir : Stellio Lorenzi with Jean Topart as Zola. 4 episodes.
The Dreyfus Affair. (1983) USA Dir: Peter Coltman
Can a Jew be Innocent? (1991). UK. BBC 2. Dir: Jack Emery with Derek Jacobi as Dreyfus. I episode.
A la lumière de J’Accuse (1998) France. Dirs Robert Bober and Pierre Dumayet
The Infamous Dreyfus Affair (2002) USA. Dir: Tom Jennings
Dreyfus aujourd’hui. France. (2003). Dir Michel Grosman
Comme un juif en France (2007). France. Dir Yves Jeuland. 2 episodes. Episode 1 concerns Dreyfus.
L’Affaire Dreyfus (2021). France. Télématin. Dir Laurent Bagnolas. 2 episodes Nov 7 and 8 2021, 119 and 176 mins
Becker, Colette and Dufief, Pierre-Jean (eds.) Dictionnaire des naturalismes Paris, 2017. in 2 volumes. See : Cinéma (Naturalisme au) vol.1, pp.215-219; Filmographie naturaliste, vol. 1 ,pp. 426-30 ; Téléfilms, vol.2, pp. 927-928.
Cousins, Russell, Adapting Zola for TV: the example of Jacques Rouffio’s L’Argent. Excavatio, vol. xii, 1999, pp. 153-161
Cousins, Russell, The Heritage film and Cultural Politics: Germinal (Berri, 1993) in Powrie, Phil (ed) ,French Cinema in the 1990s , O.U.P. 1999.
Gural-Migdal, Anna , L’Ecrit-Ecran des Rougon-Macquart, Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, Villeneuve d’Ascq, 2012.
Gural-Migdal, Anna and Singer, Roberts (eds.) Zola and Film, McFarland, North Carolina, 2012.
Griffiths, Kate, Emile Zola and the artistry of adaptation, London, Legenda, 2009.
Griffiths, Kate, Zola and the art of television adaptation, Cambridge, Legenda, 2020.
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