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Napoleon (1927)

Napoléon vu par Abel Gance (original title)
A film about the French Field Marshal's youth and early military career.



4 wins. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Vladimir Roudenko ...
Alexandre Koubitzky ...
Abel Gance ...
Gina Manès ...
Suzanne Bianchetti ...
Marguerite Gance ...
Yvette Dieudonné ...
Élisa Bonaparte
Philippe Hériat ...
Eugénie Buffet ...
Acho Chakatouny ...
Nicolas Koline ...


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 Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Abel Gance's 1927 Masterpiece [reissue]


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Parents Guide:




Release Date:

17 February 1929 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Abel Gance's Napoleon  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(DVD edition) | (2000 restoration) | (1981 restored) | (cinémathèque française print)

Sound Mix:

(1981 re-release)| |


| (tinted) (some sequences)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


A copyright dispute over which music soundtrack should be performed with "Napoleon" exists between Zoetrope Studios/Francis Ford Coppola and the BFI/Kevin Brownlow/Carl Davis. When Brownlow assembled the original restored version in 1981, two scores were eventually produced, one (apparently for the American market) by Carmine Coppola (Francis' father) and another (apparently for the UK market) by Carl Davis, veteran of many new scores for old silent movies. Prior to two live performances of the Davis score in December 2004 to accompany a new five-hour-plus restoration of "Napoleon", Coppola attempted to prevent the performances going ahead without his late father's score on the grounds that his family owns the copyright over the film, even though Carmine Coppola's score was written for the short four-hour restoration. In the end the performances went ahead with Davis' score being used, although the dispute remains unresolved. Brownlow commented on this issue (comparing Coppola's behavior to that of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels) before Davis himself conducted the two London performances (Davis was recovering from a foot operation and was brought on stage in a wheelchair). See more »


Flags of the British troops at the battle of Toulon show either the Union Jack or a regimental colour with the Union jack in the upper left canton. However the Union Jack used is the one adopted in 1801 and incorporates the red cross of St Patrick, whereas the Battle of Toulon was in 1793. Similarly the ensign flown by the ship that sees Napoleon at sea after fleeing Corsica is the white ensign of the White Squadron of the Royal Navy, but it too uses the 1801 Union Jack pattern See more »


Featured in Hot Sauce (1997) See more »


The Thrill of Being In Love (Love Theme of Napoleon and Josephine)
Music by Carmine Coppola
Lyrics by Italia Coppola
See more »

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User Reviews

Abel Gance was a Visionist
21 February 2001 | by (Los Angeles, California, USA) – See all my reviews

"Napoleon" is an absolute masterpiece in the world's history of filmmaking. In 1927, it was completely overshadowed by the technology of "The Jazz Singer". And that was a real tragedy for decades. Abel Gance is a director I will always admire for his innovation in filmmaking that still is impressive in the 21st Century. He mounted cameras on skis and swings to give the audience the effects that he wanted to convey, and it works perfectly. I was impressed by two great scenes - the 'ocean storm' scene and the final battlefield scene, which was done in the tints of the three colors of the French flag. Any aspiring director should study the techniques of Abel Gance, because the brilliance of this great director would be inspiring! Gance was also instrumental in perfect casting. Though Albert Dieudonne was older, as actors go, he was perfectly cast as Napoleon. If this was an American film and not a French film, I'm sure it would be considered as one of the greatest films ever made by AFI and other organizations.

I was glad that Abel Gance was able to see the affection that audiences had for this film in the late 1980's and early 1990's when the film went on a world tour with a world class orchestra. It would have been sad if Gance had passed on without knowing that his film was considered a masterpiece. If their was ever a silent film that 'pulls out all of the stops', this film is it. Viva Le Gance - the Visionist!

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