7.6/10
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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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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

Abel Gance had cameramen shooting behind-the-scenes footage for nearly all of the production. Most of this still exists and appears in Kevin Brownlow's documentary, Abel Gance: The Charm of Dynamite (1968). 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 film was deemed lost until film historian Kevin Brownlow managed to locate and restore many segments from various sources. In 1981 it was finally reissued in a 235-minutes version with a new music score by Carmine Coppola. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Cinema Europe: The Other Hollywood: Opportunity Lost (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

 
an emotional extravaganza that reaches across time
3 September 2001 | by blanche-2See 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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