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  • Writer's pictureDomenic

Napoleon (1927)| Review

Updated: May 31, 2022

Most moviegoers have never even heard of this film, nor would they have even the slightest interest in a five and half hour silent film. But, that truly is a tragedy since this film is really one of the best, and has had an interesting story behind it. While it was a commercial and somewhat critical success when it first released, but has had a rough past full of lost footage and corporate disagreements. The score was composed, for some time, by Carmine Coppola, Francis Coppola's father, until he died in 1991. Years later, the BFI released a Region B only Blu-Ray copy of the film accompanied with a score by Carl Davis (I own this copy). While I didn't have the opportunity to see it in a theater, the exceptional work done by the BFI to maintain and restore the film is more than enough to satisfy.

The film follows Napoleon's journey to his infamous general status. Starting from his times at the preparatory school he attended in his youth, to his invasion of Italy. Marking his many disagreements with the French government, to his remarkable infantry skills. A semi-1920s version of Lawrence of Arabia.

Abel Gance's Napoleon is by far one of the best epics to ever grace the silver screen. The sheer scope of the film remains, even upon multiple viewings, mesmerizing. Great shots and cinematography throughout. Gance's direction leads to every actor giving their best performance and perfect rhythm throughout the film. Never a dull, uninteresting, or boring moment, even considering the run time to be 330 minutes long. Despite the runtime, I find Napoleon as an entertaining and interesting film, as well as one of the best of all time.

Time Stamp: May 6, 2020

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