Abel Gance's 1971 sound edition of his epic 1927 'Napoleon', which contains much of the silent original, with new material shot and added in both 1965 and 1971, and with sound synchronization from both the 1932 reissue and this version.
In 1918 a simple Mongolian herdsman escapes to the hills after brawling with a western capitalist fur trader who cheats him. In 1920 he helps the partisans fight for the Soviets against the... See full summary »
A massive six-hour biopic of Napoleon, tracing his career from his schooldays (where a snowball fight is staged like a military campaign), his flight from Corsica, through the French Revolution (where a real storm is intercut with a political storm) and the Terror, culminating in his triumphant invasion of Italy in 1797 (the film stops there because it was intended to be part one of six, but director Abel Gance never raised the money to make the other five). The film's legendary reputation is due to the astonishing range of techniques that Gance uses to tell his story, culminating in the final twenty-minute triptych sequence, which alternates widescreen panoramas with complex multiple- image montages projected simultaneously on three screens.Written by
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Pasquale Paoli (or Pascal Paoli) was a Corsican who fought for Corsican independence from Genoa and France (after Genoa had sold Corsica to France in 1764). Bonaparte's family supported Paoli's original campaign until Paoli was defeated. He fled to England, returning in 1790 when he was elected President. He supported the revolution initially but reverted to the royalist party when he disagreed with the issue of the king's execution. Napoleon served in the Corsican National Guard at this time, splitting with Paoli and denouncing him as a traitor when he learned of Paoli's royalist leanings. Paoli eventually fled back to England in 1795. He remains a symbol of Corsican independence. See more »
When Napoleon finds his eagle escaped/ set free at the school, the cup of water switches between his right and left hands in three consecutive shots. See more »
The film was deemed lost until film historian Kevin Brownlow managed to locate and restore many segments from various sources. In 1981 it was finally reissued in a 235-minutes version with a new music score by Carmine Coppola. See more »
an emotional extravaganza that reaches across time
I had the privilege of seeing the restored version of this film, to the accompaniment of a live orchestra under the baton of Carmine Coppola, in Los Angeles' un-air-conditioned war memorial. Despite uncomfortable seating and terrible heat, the experience of this four hour movie remains a watershed for anyone who attended. To think that because of the invention of sound, this masterpiece was partially destroyed by Abel Gance in a fit of depression, is heartbreaking. More shocking is that Gance's invention of Cinemascope - of which today only the end of the film retains in its triptych screen effect - was lost to filmgoers until its reinvention years later.
Obviously true art can't be hidden forever, and Gance did live to see Napoleon take its rightful place in cinematic history. Though it is many years later, I can still remember the tears and the ovation when the black screen with the white signature, "Abel Gance", signified the end of the film. A compelling and great work of art.
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