In the inspired Olivier concept, Shakespeare's play begins as a performance in the Globe Theatre, shifting in broad cinematic terms to an epic narrative of Henry V, who had developed from a... See full summary »
Director Hans-Jurgen Syberberg examines the rise and fall of the Third Reich in this brooding seven-hour masterpiece, which incorporates puppetry, rear-screen projection, and a Wagnerian ... 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
Michael Brooke <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sections of the film are entitled Vendémiaire and Thermidor. These were two of the new names given to the months of the year in the French Republican Calendar. Thermidor covered the equivalent of mid July to mid August, a Vendémiaire covered mid September to mid October. See more »
The drawing and name of Saint Helena on the blackboard differ between shots - the shape of the island, the accents used. See more »
Gance needed a figure as powerful as "Napoleon" to fulfill his dream of super cinema
Abel Gance's 'Napoleon' was premiered on April 7, 1927, at the Paris Opera House, the first movie to be accorded such an honor It was been shown on a triple screen and to full orchestral accompaniment, running slightly under four hours
Impressive as it seems, it was conceived as the first of a six-part biography running many hours and tracing the life of Napoleon from childhood to the bitter end in St Helena Fortunately-for Abel Gance who directed and for us-the project was only completed to that moment where Napoleon enters Italy at the head of the French army, and the later and less pleasant aspects of his spectacular career were left unfilmed... The Little Corporal, after all, is a less controversial figure than the Emperor
Gance needed a figure as emblematic and powerful as 'Napoleon' to fulfill his dream of super cinema
'Napoleon' is a masterpiece of excess:
The child Bonaparte keeps a pet eagle and wins a snow fight while at
school in Brienne... In this sequence, the frame splits into nine subliminal images; as Napoleon watches his men entering Italy, the screen expands on each side to form a breathtaking panorama, then changes into three coordinated views of the scene
The National Convention seems to sway and rock as Napoleon makes his
escape from Corsica in a storm-tossed sailboat
The Gallic of cabaret singers, Damia, leads French troops into battle
personifying 'La Marseillaise'
'Napoleon' is like one grand musical composition. It throbs with life
That was Gance the great filmmaker who thought that film could do everything and who said to Kevin Brownlow: 'For me, the cinema is not just pictures. It is something great, mysterious and sublime.' Brownlow is known now not only as an English filmmaker and film historian but also as a great restorer of silent films, notably Abel Gance's 'Napoleon.'
27 of 31 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?