8.1/10
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63 user 42 critic

Napoleon (1927)

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

Director:

Abel Gance

Writer:

Abel Gance
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4 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Albert Dieudonné ... Napoléon Bonaparte
Vladimir Roudenko Vladimir Roudenko ... Napoléon Bonaparte enfant
Edmond Van Daële ... Maximilien Robespierre
Alexandre Koubitzky Alexandre Koubitzky ... Georges-Jacques Danton
Antonin Artaud ... Jean-Paul Marat
Abel Gance ... Louis Saint-Just
Gina Manès ... Joséphine de Beauharnais
Suzanne Bianchetti ... La reine Marie-Antoinette
Marguerite Gance Marguerite Gance ... Charlotte Corday
Yvette Dieudonné Yvette Dieudonné ... Élisa Bonaparte
Philippe Hériat Philippe Hériat ... Antonio Salicetti
Pierre Batcheff ... Le général Lazare Hoche
Eugénie Buffet Eugénie Buffet ... Laetizia Bonaparte
Acho Chakatouny Acho Chakatouny ... Pozzo di Borgo
Nicolas Koline Nicolas Koline ... Tristan Fleuri
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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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Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

France

Release Date:

17 February 1929 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Abel Gance's Napoleon See more »

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Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$39,448
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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

Sound Mix:

Dolby (1981 re-release)| Mono | Silent

Color:

Black and White | Black and White (tinted) (some sequences)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

When the teacher introduces the island of Saint Helena, Napoleon's quill varies between being in his hand and being on his book. See more »

Alternate Versions

There are apparently at least 19 different versions of this film, starting with the original 6-hours cut (in a "triptych" format, requiring three projectors on three screens, called Polyvision). It has been shown in various formats and different running times, including a 1934 version re-edited by director Abel Gance and featuring an added soundtrack. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Wizard of Malta (1981) 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)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Different versions should be reviewed/scored separately
25 December 2004 | by LFTSmithSee all my reviews

I was one of the thousands who were fortunate enough to see the fullest version of Napoleon at the Royal Festival Hall in early December 2004. As noted in 'alternate versions', this may prove to be the last showing until the second half of the Century (when copyright lapses) of what is so far the definitive version of the film.

It was a truly memorable experience. I had not seen 'Napoleon' for several decades, and that was a shorter version with piano accompaniment ~ though still played at the correct speed. This longer version at the correct speed with The London Philharmonic Orchestra and the RFH organ playing in full volume for the climax was a mind-blowing experience. I have not seen Coppola's 'keystone cops' version, but if the trailer on this website is any guide, with Napoleon strutting in Chaplinesque mode, it seems a travesty of what I saw; More 'Homage to Mack Sennett'.

It is clear that these two versions are radically different. It seems grossly unfair to score and review the two main versions in a single poll as if they were the same. The 95 minute difference in running time is longer than many complete films reviewed on this site ~ such as Bronenosets Potyomkin from the same era. There are clearly enough reports/votes to permit the two versions to be scored separately. I suspect the approval rating of the longer version would be significantly higher than for the Coppola version.

It there is ever another opportunity to see this latest version (or even better, an even fuller version) with the Carl Davis score, I shall do my utmost to seize the opportunity.


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