AFI Movie Club: JULIA – American Film Institute
Julia Film Still - Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave


AFI Movie Club: JULIA

Based on the writing of legendary playwright Lillian Hellman, JULIA (1977) depicts Hellman’s close-knit friendship with the eponymous heroine who became a full-fledged anti-Fascist while studying medicine in Austria when Hitler came to power. The film features the talent of two AFI Life Achievement Award recipients: Jane Fonda as Hellman herself and Meryl Streep in her first onscreen appearance!

Watch Meryl Streep talk about making her film debut in JULIA and working with AFI Life Achievement Award recipient Jane Fonda in this exclusive video from the AFI Archive:

Trivia about JULIA

DID YOU KNOW? JULIA is based on a chapter from Lillian Hellman’s 1973 memoir “Pentimento.” Hellman was a prolific writer in the 1930s and 1940s – and she appears in the first scene of the movie, casting a line to fish from a solitary boat.

DID YOU KNOW? JULIA was Richard Roth’s first solo credit as a feature film producer. His efforts resulted in an Academy Award® nomination for Best Picture, and his next film was David Lynch’s masterpiece BLUE VELVET (1986).

DID YOU KNOW? Richard Roth optioned screen rights to Lillian Hellman’s 1973 memoir “Pentimento” soon after it was published. Jane Fonda offered to star in the film adaptation even before reading the script!

DID YOU KNOW? Actress Jane Fonda and Lillian Hellman previously worked together on The Chase (1966) for which Hellman wrote the screenplay.

DID YOU KNOW? Fred Zinnemann directed over 20 films in his esteemed career, including HIGH NOON and OKLAHOMA. He made only one other film titled FIVE DAYS ONE SUMMER after JULIA.

DID YOU KNOW? JULIA marked Meryl Streep’s feature film debut. She played Anne Marie, a socialite and friend to Lillian in the film. Jane Fonda was so impressed with the young actress that she tried to get her cast in COMING HOME (1978).

DID YOU KNOW? Vanessa Redgrave won her first Academy Award® for portraying the title character in JULIA. It was her fourth Oscar® nomination!

DID YOU KNOW? Jason Robards won his second Academy Award® for JULIA. He was also nominated once more for his portrayal of Howard Hughes in MELVIN AND HOWARD – before his death in 2000.

DID YOU KNOW? JULIA won three of its 11 Academy Award® nominations.

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.

The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-How does JULIA portray the themes of remembering and forgetting? Why is memory so important in the context of WWII?

-JULIA inspires Lillian Hellman in her writing and in her political activism. How does the movie depict the close bond between the two friends?

-Lillian Hellman and author Dashiell Hammett had a longtime, real-life love affair. How does Hammett influence the story of JULIA? Can you name a film based on a Hammett novel?

-While filming JULIA, Jane Fonda told the New York Times: “Films do a lot to create the superstructure of culture… I choose parts because they are about things I think should be said.” What does JULIA say to you?

-In real life, Lillian Hellman, Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave were known for their commitment to political activism, but they were also widely criticized for speaking out. How does JULIA represent feminism and do you think its depiction resonates in today’s world?

-Why do you think JULIA is still so beloved after over 40 years?

-How would you rate JULIA?


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