7.5/10
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54 user 33 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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4 wins. See more awards »
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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 ...
...
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]


Certificate:

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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

Some footage was shot in dual-strip 35mm 3-D format, though this wasn't included in the final release print nor any subsequent re-release version. Sources suggest this footage still exists. See more »

Goofs

Junoit makes a comment about not needing sand when an artillery shell dumps soil on the sign he is painting. This is based on an actual incident, but Junot was writing a letter for Napoleon not painting a sign. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Labyrinth (1986) 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

 
an emotional extravaganza that reaches across time
3 September 2001 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I had the privilege of seeing the restored version of this film, to the accompaniment of a live orchestra under the baton of Carmine Coppola, in Los Angeles' un-air-conditioned war memorial. Despite uncomfortable seating and terrible heat, the experience of this four hour movie remains a watershed for anyone who attended. To think that because of the invention of sound, this masterpiece was partially destroyed by Abel Gance in a fit of depression, is heartbreaking. More shocking is that Gance's invention of Cinemascope - of which today only the end of the film retains in its triptych screen effect - was lost to filmgoers until its reinvention years later.

Obviously true art can't be hidden forever, and Gance did live to see Napoleon take its rightful place in cinematic history. Though it is many years later, I can still remember the tears and the ovation when the black screen with the white signature, "Abel Gance", signified the end of the film. A compelling and great work of art.


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