Napoléon vu par Abel Gance

(1927)
   Film. Directed by Abel Gance, this sweeping biopic of Napoléon Bonaparte was a silent film that ran six hours and forty minutes at the time of its release in April 1927. Immediately hailed as a classic, the film nearly bankrupted the studio company that produced it. Apart from its heroic depiction of one of France's great heroes, the film has passed into legend because of the technical and cinematic innovations used in making the film, innovations that have had a lasting impact on the direction of cinema.
   The film depicts Bonaparte's life from boyhood through his early career. It was intended to be the first in a series of four films, but it was so expensive Gance could never find funding for the other parts. Much of the expense went to cover Gance's numerous technological innovations, which range from the use of the moving camera (mounted on horseback during a battle scene) to the use of Polyvi-sion, a system of filming that involved the use of three cameras working simultaneously. In projection, Polyvision required a three-screen panoramic projection system in order to show what each of the cameras had filmed.
   Gance shot the film on location in Corsica, France, and Italy and includes spectacular battle scenes that employed thousands of extras. In addition to the grandeur of the subject and the numerous technical innovations employed by Gance, Napoléon is considered a classic because of the epic mode in which it was filmed. His camerawork is highly impressionistic, relying on techniques such as montage to convey the historical spirit (a Republican spirit in Gance's vision) of the future emperor. Many, however, including such prominent critics as Léon Moussinac, were troubled by Gance's glorification of the emperor. Such critics regard the film as romanticizing totalitarianism.
   Criticism aside, the film was largely overlooked for decades because it happened to be released the same year synchronized sound came to the cinema, at which point silent film was all but forgotten. Interest in the film in recent years, however, has been running high. It was reedited in the 1970s by film historian Kevin Brownlow and screened in reedited form for the first time in 1981. The restoration reportedly took ten years to complete, and the Brownlow version is one of the most complete to be released since the original cut. A second reedition of Napoléon was done with the backing of Francis Ford Coppola. This version features a score written by Coppola's father. It seems Coppola had originally backed Brownlow's version but refused to allow it to be released without his father's score. The shorter Coppola version of the film has also been released.

Historical Dictionary of French Cinema. . 2007.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Napoléon vu par Abel Gance — (1927)    Film. Directed by Abel Gance, this sweeping biopic of Napoléon Bonaparte was a silent film that ran six hours and forty minutes at the time of its release in April 1927. Immediately hailed as a classic, the film nearly bankrupted the… …   Guide to cinema

  • Napoléon vu et entendu par Abel Gance — Napoléon (film, 1927) Pour les articles homonymes, voir Napoléon (homonymie). Napoléon Réalisation Abel Gance Acteurs principaux Albert Dieudonné Antonin Artaud Gina Manès Scénario …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Abel Gance — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Abel (homonymie). Abel Gance …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Napoleon (film, 1927) — Napoléon (film, 1927) Pour les articles homonymes, voir Napoléon (homonymie). Napoléon Réalisation Abel Gance Acteurs principaux Albert Dieudonné Antonin Artaud Gina Manès Scénario …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Napoléon Bonaparte (film, 1927) — Napoléon (film, 1927) Pour les articles homonymes, voir Napoléon (homonymie). Napoléon Réalisation Abel Gance Acteurs principaux Albert Dieudonné Antonin Artaud Gina Manès Scénario …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Napoléon (film, 1927) — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Napoléon (homonymie). Napoléon …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Gance, Abel — (October 25, 1889, Paris, France November 10, 1981, Paris, France)    The illegitimate son of a physician, Abel Flamant, he was educated by his mother and his stepfather, a mechanic named Adolphe Gance. He had to work as a lawyer clerk to earn… …   Encyclopedia of French film directors

  • Gance, Abel — (1889 1981)    Actor, director, and screenwriter. Born the illegitimate son of a Jewish doctor and a working class girl, Abel Gance rose to prominence as one of the most visionary directors of the silent film era. Until the age of eight, Gance… …   Guide to cinema

  • Gance, Abel — (1889 1981)    Actor, director, and screenwriter. Born the illegitimate son of a Jewish doctor and a working class girl, Abel Gance rose to prominence as one of the most visionary directors of the silent film era. Until the age of eight, Gance… …   Historical Dictionary of French Cinema

  • Gance, Abel — orig. Eugène Alexandre Péréthon born Oct. 25, 1889, Paris, France died Nov. 10, 1981, Paris French film director and screenwriter. He worked in the cinema from 1909, finally winning acclaim with Mater dolorosa (1917) and Tenth Symphony (1918).… …   Universalium

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