Apparently tickled pink to be playing historical personages in a prestigious cable-TV production, the cast declaim like highschoolers at a regional Shakespeare competition.
In 1895, Captain Dreyfuss (Kenneth Colley) is convicted of treason by a French Military Tribunal; stripped of his rank, he's shipped off to Devil’s Island. To tie up the loose ends of a hasty trial, General Boisdeffre (Oliver Reed) relies on ambitious officer Captain Picquart (Richard Dreyfuss), but instead of clearing up minor inconsistencies he discovers shaky testimony and evidence manufactured by his rival, Major Henry (Peter Firth). Picquart determines that it was Major Esterhazy (Patrick Ryecart), who sold secrets to the Germans, but the army refuses to exonerate the imprisoned Dreyfuss -- after all, Dreyfuss is a Jew, not a real Frenchman like Esterhazy. Furthermore, General Boisdeffre’s cronies, General de Pellieux (Jeremy Kemp) and General Gonse (Brian Blessed), agree that a retraction would damage their credibility and alienate the new recruits needed for future wars. To punish Picquart for taking up and unpopular cause, his superiors ship him off to various remote outposts. While Madame Dreyfuss (Judith Paris) keeps her husband’s plight alive in the liberal press, novelist Emile Zola (Martin Friend) takes up her cause. Picquart, meanwhile, finds himself in court, defending his reputation against increasingly desperate men. As the scandal escalates; the cover up falls apart and Major Henry commits suicide to protect his superiors. Although Dreyfuss has wearied of the legal wrangling, Picquart advises him to accept nothing less than a full pardon; for his unwillingness to fall in step with the anti-Semitism of fellow officers, Picquart earns a place in history.
It's hard to believe that notorious bad-boy director Ken Russell played any part in this handsome-looking pageant, and Ron Hutchinson’s speechifying script deadens material that was better handled in THE LIFE OF EMILE ZOLA (1937).
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: PG
- Review: Apparently tickled pink to be playing historical personages in a prestigious cable-TV production, the cast declaim like highschoolers at a regional Shakespeare competition. In 1895, Captain Dreyfuss (Kenneth Colley) is convicted of treason by a French M… (more)