Julia (1977) starring Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, Jason Robards, Maximilian Schell, Hal Holbrook, Rosemary Murphy, Meryl Streep directed by Fred Zinnemann Movie Review

Julia (1977)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave in Julia (1977)

Lillian's Love

As I looked for information on "Julia" I found opinion after opinion from those who knew who Lillian Hellman was, in fact I don't think I found a single opinion from someone who watched this movie without knowing who Hellman was. Well to even the balance out before deciding to watch "Julia" I had never heard of Lillian Hellman and was only interested to watch as a movie fan who needs little excuse to watch a movie especially one which has a cast of prominent actors including Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave. And on previous experiences of watching movies about real people who I have never heard of they can be rewarding and enlightening experiences.

Now "Julia" rather than covering the life of the title character is in fact about Lillian (Jane Fonda - They Shoot Horses, Don't They?) and takes us back and forth between her teenage years and the start of the second world war. We learn how as a teenager she felt a need to do something when she witnessed the poor during a trip to Cairo, something which her father recommended she turned a blind eye to. In later life we see how under the guidance of Hammett (Jason Robards) writes "The Children's Hour" and in doing so finds herself conflicted as to how to use her royalties from it. And in between all this we learn about her intimate friendship with Julia (Vanessa Redgrave - Letters to Juliet) and how during the war Julia wanted Lillian to help her cause.

Jason Robards in Julia (1977)

What does that all mean well "Julia" is part look at Lillian's life and part love story although from what I have gathered since watching is that despite being based on Hillman's own book there is doubt over the validity of some of the events portrayed. Unfortunately where as some movies work for those who watch without prior knowledge of the subject "Julia" doesn't and without that initial interest in Hellman it ends up a laborious movie which skips across various periods. Basically it throws you in to the story with very little build up so unless you have that initial knowledge you are left trying to make sense of it.

Despite the issues which "Julia" presents for those who only watch as movie fans it is a beautifully produced movie. The look, the dialogue and acting is all of an incredibly high standard with great attention to detail but without over doing the detail. I suppose what I am saying is that there is an authenticity to the look which sadly is missing from many modern movies which use computer trickery to try and recreate certain periods but frequently fail.

What this all boils down to is that "Julia" was not for me and is very much a movie for those who have knowledge of writer Lillian Hellman and are interested in her life. Despite this it is still a well produced movie with a great look and very good performances and it was the beautiful production which ended up keeping me more interested than the actual story.