Review of ‘The officer and the spy’ (2019): I accuse

In France in 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, of Jewish-Alsatian origin, was accused of espionage by an anti-Semitic military court. A judicial manipulation that shocked the European society of the time, taken to the cinema in advance by Géorges Méliès (1899), Richard Oswald (1930), William Dieterle (1937), José Ferrer (1958), Jean Vigne (1965) and Yves Boisset (1995), among others. Now, Roman Polanski describes to the last consequences the manipulations of a power that falsely accused the said officer of treason.

The writer Émile Zola wrote in his day, under the title ‘I accuse’, a brave allegation, published by the newspaper ‘L’Aurore’ on January 13, 1898 in his front page, which ended like this: ‘Just a feeling move, I just want the light to be made, and I implore it in the name of humanity, who has suffered so much and has the right to be happy. My burning protest is nothing more than a cry from my soul. That they dare to take me to court and that they judge me publicly ». Enhanced by a thorough historical reconstruction, the film by the author of ‘Repulsion’ makes it clear that injustice done to one is only a threat addressed to all.

Of fanaticism, hatred, revenge and stupidity is what the aquilated images of ‘The officer and the spy’ speak of the barbarism of a world prior to the First World War that remains ours. It is a daunting descent into the hells of intolerance, an allegorical tragedy and also a psychological dive where the important thing is not the resolution of the case, but the research trip. The final sequences, where the ground gives way to our feet, leaves us practically unresolved, since it literally cuts our breath. It is as if the noise of a rope that breaks or resembles the blow of an ax unloaded against a tree is heard.

The officer and the spy

France. 2019. 126 m. (12). Drama.


Roman Polanski


Jean Dujardin, Louis Garrel, Emmanuelle Seigner, Grégory Gadebois, Hervé Pierre.


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