Napoleon (1927)
"Napoléon vu par Abel Gance" (original title)

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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 5,157 users  
Reviews: 52 user | 25 critic

A film about the French Field Marshal's youth and early military career.



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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 <>

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  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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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?


The snowballs in the snowball fight scene were actually balls of cotton. During shooting one of the child extras threw a real one with a rock in it. It hit Vladimir Roudenko square in the face and broke his nose. 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 »


Referenced in Glory (1989) 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

Vive Napoleon! Vive Abel Gance!
27 July 1999 | by (Brooklyn NY) – See all my reviews

January 23, 1981. Radio City Music Hall. Nearly midnight. One of the most thrilling experiences of my life. "Napoleon", restored, and reconstructed, not seen for over fifty years, was debuting in front of 6,000 people packed into the great theater with Carmine Coppolla conducting a huge orchestra rising up on the lift as lighting cast fifty foot shadows of the conductor on the walls. The score was magnificent. By the end of the film when the tryptyches stretched the size of the screen to triple size filling the glorious famous sunburst proscenium, Radio City Music Hall erupted in a standing ovation - and Kevin Brownlow, who restored the film, at that very moment from the theater had Abel Gance (soon to die) live on the phone from France to hear the ovation! Just incredible. Glorious. The film is a masterpiece of the Twentieth Century. And a must see. The best scene was the battle in the Convention between the Girondists and Jacobins superimposed on Napoleon's escape from Corsica in a sea storm. Staggering editing and camera work. It is a tragedy for us all the the remaining chapters of Napoleon's life were never put on film as Gance planned.

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