Abel Gance’s epic silent classic Napoleon back in cinemas following a 50-year restoration
This November comes the chance to experience one of the most thrilling experiences in the entire history of cinema, as the 50-year project to restore Abel Gance’s Napoleon (1927) is finally completed.
Painstakingly restored by the BFI National Archive and Photoplay’s Kevin Brownlow, the five-and-a-half-hour 1927 epic, Napoleon, will also feature the longest score ever written for a silent film by the legendary Carl Davis.
Following its premiere on 6 November at the Royal Festival Hall (opens in new tab), with the score performed live by the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Davis, Napoleon will open in selected cinemas from 11 November, followed by release on BFI Blu-ray, on DVD and on BFI Player (opens in new tab) on 21 November.
Originally conceived by Gance as the first of six films about the French military leader, this five-and-a-half-hour epic features full scale historical recreations of episodes from Bonaparte's personal and political life, that see him overcome fierce rivals and political machinations to seal his imperial destiny. The film is also famed for its groundbreaking technical innovations – including its triptych finale.
The BFI Blu-ray will include the following special features… • New 2K restoration • The Charm of Dynamite (1968, 51 mins): BBC documentary on Gance’s silent films, narrated by Lindsay Anderson. • Composing Napoleon: An Interview with Carl Davis (2016, 45 mins) • Feature-length commentary by Paul Cuff • Digital restoration featurette (2016, 5 mins) • Gallery • Alternative single-screen ending • Individual triptych panel presentations • Illustrated collector’s booklet
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