Abel Gance’s silent masterpiece is widely considered one of the greatest of all films, but since its release in 1927 it’s been unavailable for home consumption in anything approaching its true glory. Marking a new chapter in the film’s dramatic history, Gance’s epic vision returns to our screens as the culmination of a project spanning 50 years.
A lifelong labour of love for Academy Award-winning film historian Kevin Brownlow, this majestic new digital restoration was produced in conjunction with the BFI National Archive, finally allowing audiences the chance to experience this extraordinary film complete with Carl Davis’s magnificent score. Originally conceived by its director as the first of 6 films about Napoleon Bonaparte, this five and a half hour epic features full scale historical recreations of episodes from his personal and political life, from the French Revolution to the heroic arrival of French troops in Italy that marked the beginning of the First Italian campaign of 1796. Upon its release Napoleon was cut and reassembled numerous times by its director and various distributors, but Kevin Brownlow’s painstaking reassembly restores the film as closely as possible to its original form. Utilising a number of ground-breaking camera and editing techniques, Abel Gance’s Napoleon offers one of the most richly rewarding and thrilling experiences in the history of cinema, a brilliant pairing of music and film, comparable to grand opera in its intensity, offering dazzling scenes of unparalleled brilliance. (Please note that Pt1 presented here includes Acts I and II of the four-act film.)