Sisif, a railwayman, and his son Elie fall in love with the beautiful Norma (who Sisif rescued from a train crash when a baby and raised as his daughter), with tragic results. Originally ... See full summary »
Gabriel de Gravone
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
Michael Brooke <email@example.com>
Abel Gance remembered one scene that was removed by the censors--that of the execution of civilians by soldiers. The camera is used like a bullet, zooming towards one human target, then another, then another. The sequence is lost, although a still photograph does survive. See more »
One of the Corsicans in the inn states "Our fatherland is Italy with the Duke of Savoy". The Duchy of Savoy had ceased to exist in 1713 (eighty years earlier), when the Duchy acquired the Kingdom of Sardinia and the Duke then bore the title of the King of Sardinia. Italy was a geographic place not a political entity at this time. 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.'
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