7.6/10
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57 user 37 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 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

Gross USA:

$10,000,000, 31 December 1981
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

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Goofs

The French troops attacking Toulon and the Army of Italy use flags with triangles in corners, the pattern introduced in 1804. In 1793, the pattern was based around a large central cross with the regimental number surrounded by a wreath, with different patterns and colours in the four corners (one flag similar to this is seen carried by the Army of Italy). See more »

Alternate Versions

The first film with stereophonic sound was the re-edited version of this film that was presented with added dialogue and sound effects at the Paramount Cinema, Paris, in 1935. The stereophonic process used had been patended by Abel Gance and Andre Debrie three years earlier. See more »

Connections

Referenced in 2 x 50 Years of French Cinema (1995) 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

 
Excellent -- but where's the DVD?
6 January 2003 | by Bry-2See all my reviews

I saw this back in '81 or '82, on the Big Screen at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, with Carmine Coppola conducting a live orchestra -- there has never been anything like that in all my movie-going experience! The closest that's come since was _Intolerance_, restored, with another live orchestra performing under the baton of the composer, Gillian Anderson (no, not the one from the X-Files). That, too, was an occasion to remember ... but where is Napoleon on DVD?

As many other reviewers have said, Napoleon was a relevatory experience. Certainly, other films to that point had used most of the devices Gance employed so brilliantly (except, of course, his three-screen-wide "Polyvision"), but then sound came in and the requirements of the microphone killed the recently mobilized camera. The camera became very static for at least the next ten years of films -- dynamic camera movements only returned when sound mixing came in to being, and scenes could be shot MOS (mit out sound), with foley and overdubbing replacing the missed sounds.

For this reason, Napoleon is important to see -- as a technical achievement. But Gance's artistry wasn't limited to gimmicks. His pacing, editing, and direction of the actors (including Dieudonne as Nappy -- looking amazingly Rod-Stewart-like) is excellent as well.

Highly recommended -- and when the DVD comes out -- hopefully, with the fuller, five-hour restoration, and Coppola's music on one track, with a reconstruction of the original music on another (and perhaps Gillian Anderson has a score of her own to share?) -- you'll owe it to yourself, as a student of Film, to see it, over and over again.


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