29 November 2013 8:20 AM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

When did a film last blow you away? The pair behind the restoration of an old silent classic about Napoleon say it's a reminder of how magnificent pure cinema can be

Napoleon is a silent film directed by Abel Gance, dramatising the youth and early career of Napoleon Bonaparte. Its most complete screening, said to be nine hours long, took place in Paris in 1927 – but this version was subsequently lost. British film-maker Kevin Brownlow saw a version as a schoolboy and subsequently restored the film to close to its original length from various prints. His restoration was first shown in London in 1980 with a score by Carl Davis. It will screen again on 30 November at the city's Royal Festival Hall.

Kevin Brownlow, restorer

It was 1953 and I was still at school. I'd borrowed a silent French film from the library for my 9.5mm projector. It was by Jean Epstein and it was awful. »

- Pamela Hutchinson

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