7.5/10
5,715
54 user 34 critic

Napoleon (1927)

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Vladimir Roudenko ...
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Alexandre Koubitzky ...
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Suzanne Bianchetti ...
Marguerite Gance ...
Yvette Dieudonné ...
Élisa Bonaparte
Philippe Hériat ...
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Eugénie Buffet ...
Acho Chakatouny ...
Nicolas Koline ...
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

Abel Gance's 1927 Masterpiece [reissue]


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Details

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Release Date:

17 February 1929 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Abel Gance's Napoleon  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(DVD edition) | (2000 restoration) | (1981 restored) | (cinémathèque française print) | (Blu-Ray digital restoration)

Sound Mix:

(1981 re-release)| |

Color:

| (tinted) (some sequences)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Joseph-Agricola Viala was a 13-year-old from southern France who had distinguished himself fighting for the revolution. He was killed attempting to prevent Royalist supporters from crossing the Durance River. See more »

Goofs

One of the Corsican insurgents says "Our fatherland is Spain with Buttafuaco! Death to Napoleon Bonaparte!" The name is misspelled. The person referred to is Matteo Buttafuoco, plenipotentiary of the independent Corsica sent by Paoli to treat with France. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Alien from L.A. (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

The Thrill of Being In Love (Love Theme of Napoleon and Josephine)
Music by Carmine Coppola
Lyrics by Italia Coppola (USA version)
UK version: score by Carl Davis (based largely on works by Beethoven)
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User Reviews

 
Amazing achievement, but beware of US release version
4 November 2001 | by (Berkeley, California) – See all my reviews

The (more or less) full length version of Gance's NAPOLEON assembled by Kevin Brownlow over many years is an absolutely astounding achievement, both for Gance's inspired execution of a vision nearly too big for the screen, and Brownlow's dedication and perseverance, not to mention his superb reconstruction skills in bringing such a masterpiece back for the enjoyment of the world.

Well, not the whole world... Despite all this effort, the full restoration cannot be seen in the United States, on video or theatrically. It's a long story, but I just wanted potential and past viewers of this film to be aware of a few things:

-First of all, though video may be the only way to see this film in the U.S., keep in mind that home video can not even come close to providing the proper setting for such a gorgeous and epic film. The word "epic" has in fact never been so appropriate. So while I don't discourage people from seeing the video for lack of theatrical viewing opportunities, remember that the film was made on and meant to be seen on a grand scale.

-Secondly, the version currently available in the U.S. is not shown at the correct speed (24fps instead of the necessary 18/20fps). Also, it is missing footage. It is my understanding that in order to provide wider release possibilities in the U.S. upon the completion of the first major restoration in the '70s, the U.S. prints were edited somewhat to cut down on the admittedly long running time. This is also why the film is shown faster in the U.S., at "sound speed" or 24 frames per second. The newest restoration runs at 333 minutes, while the U.S. version is only 235.

The primary reason why the latest, glorious 2000 restoration of the film cannot be seen in the U.S. lies mainly with Francis Ford Coppola. Coppola controls the U.S. distribution rights, and allows only the U.S. version - with a score written by his father - to be shown. This is unlikely to change in the near future, so until then, deal with the substandard videotapes or plan your next European trip around one of the periodic English screenings of the film version - believe me, it's worth it!!


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