I Accuse! (1958)

One tradition I’ve upheld on this blog ever since I began is that every year, on my birthday, I dedicate a post to someone from the world of cinema who shares my birthday.

This year, therefore, a post in honour of José Ferrer, the Puerto Rican actor who was born on January 8, 1912, and became the first Hispanic actor to win an Oscar for Best Actor (for Cyrano de Bergerac).  I confess I haven’t seen too many of Mr Ferrer’s films, but Moulin Rouge (in which he played the tormented artist, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec) impressed me immensely. As did this one, a thought-provoking tale of an unforgivable miscarriage of justice.

José Ferrer in I Accuse!

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The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)

One of the good things about growing up in a family that loved reading was that even as a child, I was surrounded by books—novels, of course; and treatises on everything from Wordsworth’s poetry (thanks to my mother) to gardening and homoeopathy (thanks to my father). Those books, big tomes that were all words and no pictures, were of no interest to a 6-year old who wasn’t too deeply into literature.

My favourite book from my parents’ vast collection was a large Readers’ Digest coffee table book called Family Treasury of Great Painters and Great Paintings. This one was a fascinating book. You didn’t need to be able to read much to be able to enjoy it, because it was full of the most amazing paintings. That was where I first saw The Music Lesson, La Grande Jatte, The Arnolfini Wedding, Sunflowers… and The Creation of Man. I don’t even need to open that book now to see what The Creation of Man looked like, spread across the top half of two pages. It took my breath away.

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