Though it marked the fledging early days of the medium, silent cinema was not without its ambitious filmmakers and massive epics, it’s just that time hasn’t always been kind to them, with many works from the period lost forever. However, passionate advocates of the era, such as Kevin Brownlow, have been responsible for ensuring that whatever remains from those important years is preserved, and in the case of Abel Gance‘s “Napoleon,” revisited and revitalized for a new generation. And this fall in the U.K., audiences are going to get a cinematic experience like no other.
Abe Gance’s 5 1/2 hour epic has been given a new restoration, with Carl Davis‘ original score re-recorded and placed back into the picture (replacing Carmine Coppola‘s music that for many years accompanied the film when it was under the stewardship of Francis Ford Coppola), but more importantly, audiences will get to see the triptych finale. Yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like, with Gance shooting his massive, climatic sequences so that they would require projection on three screens simultaneously to take it all in. Wow. Here’s the official synopsis for the film:
Abel Gance’s heroic depiction of the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte is an undisputed cinema landmark. Famed for its groundbreaking technical innovations – including its famous triptych finale – and a running time of 5 ½ hours, Gance’s epic traverses many of the formative experiences that shaped Napoleon’s rapid advancement. Cool under pressure, Bonaparte overcomes fierce rivals, the deadly Terror and political machinations to seal his imperial destiny. Monumental and visionary, the story’s chapters play out in exhilarating fashion tied together by an incredible feat of editing and technical ingenuity. Featuring an equally mammoth score composed and conducted by Carl Davis (newly recorded in 7.1), this definitive digital restoration presents this silent masterpiece in all its grandiose glory.
This is truly a rare event, so if “Napoleon” plays near you, don’t miss it. Check out the trailer and click here for the rollout dates (let’s hope it’s not too long until this crosses the pond).