Nerdist’s film critic, Witney Seibold, has been watching and reviewing every film to have won the Oscar for Best Picture in chronological order. In week ten, he will be discussing 1937′s The Life of Émile Zola.
This is the second Best Picture winner in a row to go to a biopic, although this film couldn’t be more different than The Great Ziegfeld.
A confession: I have only read one novel written by Émile Zola: 1885′s Germinal. Zola is one of France’s most celebrated novelists, and his books are widely read in his home country. In America, not so much; it’s rare that I encounter someone who has read one of Zola’s novels outside of a French lit class. I do love Germinal, but I feel I need to further familiarize myself with at least Nana, Thérèse Raquin, and La Bête Humaine. Since this 1937 film speeds through Zola’s early years, I feel some context might be needed for the uninitiated.
I bother with this little lit lesson because William Dieterle’s The Life of Émile Zola is, frustratingly, not about the life of Émile Zola. It begins with 25 full minutes of film devoted briefly to Zola’s rise as a …read more