Photograph: courtesy Photoplay Productions.
Also known as Napoléon Bonaparte in France
B&W : Feature film
Directed by Abel Gance
Cast: Albert Dieudonné [Napoléon Bonaparte], Antonin Artaud, Pierre Batcheff [General Hoche], Gina Manès, [?] Armand Bernard or Alexandre Bernard?, Vladimir Roudenko, René Jeanne, Harry Krimer, Nicolai Koline, Annabella, Alexandre Koubitsky, Raoul Villiers [Boissy d’Anglais], Edmond Van Daële, Damia, Henri Baudin, Maurice Schultz, Léon Courtois, Philippe Hériat, Albert Bras, Jean Henry, Marguerite Gance, Abel Gance, Georges Cahuzac, Jean d’Yd, Monsieur Maxudian [Barras], Genica Missirio, Le Petit Henin, Roger Blum, Philippe Rolla, Suzanne Bianchetti, Yvette Dieudonne, Acho Chakatouny, Eugenie Buffet
Westi Company and Société Générale de Film production. / Scenario by Abel Gance. Art direction by Alexandre Benois, [?] ? Schildknecht, Eugene Lourié, [?] ? Jacouty and [?] ? Meinhardt. Cinematography by Jules Kruger, Léonce-Henry Burel and Jean-Paul Mundviller. Edited by Abel Gance, assisted by Marguerite Beauge and Henriette Pinson. Original music score by Arthur Honegger. / Premiered 7 April 1927 at the Paris Opera, in Paris, France. / Standard 35mm spherical 1.33:1 format, with Polyvision Triptych tri-panel 3.99:1 format sequence. Color-tinted and color-toned. / The production commensed shooting on 17 January 1925. Viatcheslav Tourjansky worked on the film in some capacity. Of the premiere version Gance said: “There were four Polyvision sections: the storm in the convention and the storm at sea, which I called Les deux tempêtes, the Return to Corsica, Le bal des victimes, and the Entry into Italy. Sometimes I used the full width of the screen for one picture, sometimes I split it up into a central action, with two framing scenes. At the end of the film, the left-hand screen went red, the right-hand screen went blue, and over this tricolor I superimposed a huge eagle! The audience was on its feet at the end, cheering.” Gance experimented with shooting portions of the film in an early color process and in a dual-strip anaglyphic stereoscopic process developed by André Debrie. These experiments were never part of the finished film; rumors have the 3D footage still existing in Paris, France. The film was released in the USA in 1929 with a synchronized music and sound effect soundtrack. The film was rereleased in France as Napoléon Bonaparte in 1934 with a synchronized soundtrack prepared by Gance (which he called Perspective Sound). A 1981 reconstruction of the film was produced by Kevin Brownlow. Mysteriously, the reconstruction was edited and released in the USA by Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope Studios, featuring an original music score by Carmine Coppola. Kevin Brownlow released a third reconstruction of the film (restored to 5-1/2 hours) in June 2000.
Survival status: Prints exist [35mm restoration positives]; also in a private film collection [17.5mm reduction positive].
Current rights holder: (unknown)
Keywords: France - Napoléon Bonaparte (1769-1821) - Snow - Stereoscopic films - 3D film - Triptych shots - War - Weapons: Guns
Listing updated: 18 July 2008.
References: Film viewing : Bardèche-History pp. 46, 230-232, 242, 249, 266, 271, 335; Bohn-Light pp. xxiv, xxv, xliii, 159, 161, 242, 356; Brownlow-Parade pp. 233, 290, 518, 521, 529, 535, 536, 546-548, 549, 550-553, 554, 555, 556-559, 560, 562-563, 578, 581; Drew-Speaking p. ix; Eyles-Missing p. 9; Geduld-Birth p. 39; Hayes-3D pp. 9-10; Leish-Cinema pp. 35-36; Maltin-Guide p. 884; Menefee-Bernhardt p. 114; Shipman-Cinema p. 97; Sinyard-Silent pp. 4, 8, 10, 150-152, 153, 177 : ClasIm-240 pp. 30, C4 : with additional information provided by Brian Franklin.
Home video: Blu-ray Disc; DVD.