• Cinephiles, man your battle stations: Abel Gance’s legendary silent behemoth Napoleon, which hasn’t been shown theatrically in the U.S. with live accompaniment for nearly thirty years, will be presented by the 2012 San Francisco Silent Film Festival in four special performances at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland. This is a major event, as not only has Napoleon been so long unseen, but this will be the American premiere of Academy Award–winning film historian Kevin Brownlow and BFI’s complete restoration—and with more than thirty minutes of additional footage discovered since Brownlow’s original 1979 reconstruction, this is the longest version of Gance’s film shown since its 1927 premiere at the Paris Opéra. Screenings of Napoleon will take place March 24, 25, 31, and April 1 next year. Watch the new trailer below heralding this exciting news:

10 comments

  • By JAKE
    August 16, 2011
    06:36 PM

    JJ - My understanding on the rights is that the previous restoration was tied into the Coppola orchestral score, or something of that nature. The "even more" additional footage and seperate Brownlow/BFI restoration may have nixed that rights issue completely (though Zoetrope is still in the credits). Regardless, this is amazing news. Making it to this screening will become a priority - although I'll still keep the laserdisc handy.
    Reply
  • By John C
    September 11, 2011
    04:44 PM

    I was fortunate to see this film on January 24, 1981 at NYC's Radio City Music Hall where it played for three nights. We had dead center front row seats in the first mezzanine, the best seats in the house as far as I'm concerned. Coppola introduced the film while his father conducted his own score. You've never heard an audience go wild as when the full frame screen opened wide for the long-awaited tryptich conclusion. Watching a horse ride across the screen's three panels in perfect synchronization knocked everyone out of their seats, figuratively & literally. When 'Napoleon' was over, the audience applauded for twenty minutes while a telephone was set on stage so Abel Gance who was too ill to leave France to attend could hear it. This night was probably the greatest night ever spent in a movie theater. Do not miss this film if it comes near you. We came from Connecticut and stayed overnight to see it. The train & film tickets and hotel stay were worth every penny. A DVD, as good as it might be, will never do justice to seeing this film on the big screen with a live orchestra. Trust me...
    Reply
  • By Henry Smith
    February 20, 2012
    09:46 PM

    Saw it in 1982 in Seattle with the Coppola score. #1 on my all-time favorite film list.
    Reply
  • By JP Falcon
    February 23, 2012
    05:48 PM

    I had Napoleon on BETA many many years ago and it is too bad that I did not retain it so I could have transfered it to DVD, as I never would have thought that such a masterpiece would languish in non-dvd hell for so long....Oh well, I waited patiently for Fritz Lang's NIBELUNGEN to come to DVD, which thankfully it has, so I can only hope this one turns up some day soon....
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  • By J. Leighton
    February 25, 2012
    08:48 PM

    I saw the very first scraps that Brownlow put together in the late 70's when I was in college and the score was a pastiche of period classical music. That was the trip when he made contact with the various Coppolas and raised the funding to finish the project. I saw the live orchestra version twice (and the tickets were not cheap!). I have tickets for the new perfomances here is Oakland, CA. When I got the "official" news from the Silent FIlm Festival people that there was to be no DVD of this final version with the new score (never liked the Coppola one), I was crushed to say the least. Much as I respect Mr. Brownlow and his work, this decision is a betrayal of all the fans who love this movie. We need to let him and his backers know that we think a decent print can be made available despite the shortcomings of DVD format. And that we will buy it.
    Reply
  • By Dennis James
    March 14, 2012
    06:21 PM

    You all do know NAPOLEON isn't the only orchestra plus organ with silent film show in upcoming weeks. For instance, I'm performing at the organ together with with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra for the 1920 Douglas Fairbanks silent film adventure THE MARK OF ZORRO on April 19 & 20 in Indianapolis at the local art museum, and then over to the grand Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ in Buffalo for accompanying Lon Chaney in PHANTOM OF THE OPERA playing the 1925 original score by G. Hinrichs and M. Winkler at Shea's Buffalo movie palace together with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra on Sunday, April 22. The grand movie palace experience with silent films and live music is back . . . thank you, THE ARTIST, for winning the Oscar and reviving our specialist interest for the general public! Dennis James, SILENT FILM CONCERTS
    Reply
  • By Christopher Thomason
    May 11, 2012
    02:35 PM

    Hope there will be a special DVD (even Blu_ray) release from Criterion soon, but heard it'll never be because it's very expenisive long film and they have rights for the Carl Davis score not being releasing as said by SFSFF. But will BFI (or Kino) ever release this version soon if not Criterion? I'm really looking forward to watching it. :)
    Reply
  • By QuQCDegueulasse
    May 26, 2012
    10:49 AM

    When will it be Criterion? I can't wait to see it but don't know how unless you guys release it
    Reply
  • By David
    May 28, 2012
    11:42 PM

    The Coppola version is being released on DVD in Germany. I suspect it's PAL/Region 2, and it appears that the subtitles are in German only. http://www.arthaus.de/napoleon-arthaus_premium
    Reply
  • By Elgatonyc
    July 02, 2012
    12:43 AM

    Well, here it is a year later and no word if/when the DVD of this is coming out. It annoys me that something like "Ted" will be on disc by Christmas and have 75,000 printings yet cinephiles have to beg for a masterpiece like this to be released. Btw, Napoleon made Cahiers du Cinema's Best 100 Films of All Time list...except hardly anybody has seen it. I hope Criterion can fix that.
    Reply
  • By Matthew Ekstrom
    September 22, 2012
    04:57 PM

    I'm not sure if this will ever get a DVD release. It would be nice to see both the Brownlow and Coppola versions in a box set, as a sort of compromise.
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  • By Rezag Levan
    October 30, 2012
    07:01 PM

    Is there anyone we can lobby about this? Or get a straight answer? I first saw this on UK TV in the early 1980s and even recorded it on VHS. You can imagine how gutted I am that the videos went walk about some years ago.
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    • By Matthew Ekstrom
      November 02, 2012
      02:59 PM

      We could start a petition of some sort. My fear is that this will turn out like the Star Wars Special Editions. I hope both editions will be available whenever this gets a DVD.
  • By Robert J Alexander
    November 10, 2012
    09:45 AM

    I saw the movie Napoleon in Boston around 1981 with a live orchestra conducted by Carmine Coppola and at that time I was thrilled with Abel Gance's film technique that included multiple screens. It is my favorite movie of all times. I have it on both VHS and I have a copy of it on DVD which I received from overseas. I am hoping both versions would be released on DVD because I feel that it is significant film that should be shared and appreciated by Silent Film Fans.
    Reply
  • By Pete Mantle
    December 10, 2012
    07:00 PM

    I too saw it on UK tv - I think it was split into two parts. Looked brilliant on a 14" screen I imagine on a cinema screen it would be awsome.There seems to be no shortage of people who want to see it again. Lets start a campaign
    Reply
  • By Auster
    June 11, 2013
    05:43 PM

    Just to keep this where's-the-DVD thread alive, I recently watched Bela Tarr's Satantango (1994) on DVD. This is a 450-minute (7.5 hours) production which is interesting but, as you would appreciate if you've seen any of Tarr's other work, is not exactly hopping with action. If that movie can be released on DVD, then Napoleon should be a walk in the park. Napoleon is probably tied up in some legal tug o' war as someone mentioned a couple of years ago.
    Reply
  • By JJPascual
    July 18, 2013
    12:54 PM

    Any news about a possible release in Blu Ray?
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  • By Al. B. Sure
    September 27, 2013
    11:33 AM

    Saw this the one and only time on the zoetrope VHS release back in '95, rented from the local art-house video shop down the street. it's been almost 20 years and I still have vivid impressions of the film. the fact that this is not widely available in the best possible format is a cultural travesty--this should be accessible to anyone and appreciated by all. it's galling how this is kept locked away in some safe subject to the economic whims of the coppolas or whoever elitist owns the rights to these. the legal tug of war be damned, this is a treasure that must be shared with all.
    Reply
  • By Get it together now
    November 10, 2013
    07:02 PM

    This is Kevin Brownlow BULLSHITE and greed. Napoleon NOW on Blu-Ray (dvd is a waste of time). You need a track for the Coppola Score (BY FAR THE BEST) , the score as performed in SF 2012. In this day and age there is no excuse save greed and vanity that this, the greatest film made as Al be sure aptly put better than I ''' " the fact that this is not widely available in the best possible format is a cultural travesty--this should be accessible to anyone and appreciated by all. it's galling how this is kept locked away in some safe" . IMHO there should be a class action lawsuit. against Brownlow.
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  • By Brownlow Apologist
    December 02, 2013
    10:00 AM

    The only bullshit and greed associated with this project comes from the Coppola camp. They have repeatedly blocked any attempt by Kevin Brownlow's company to release this film on any kind of domestic format as F.F.C. would prefer that the world only see his truncated version scored by his daddy from which he receives all the profits. Some irony, then, that Brownlow and Coppola were both awarded honorary Oscars in the same ceremony. If F.F.C. didn't have his head shoved so firmly up his backside, orgasming at the merest scent of litigation, then I am sure the likes of Criterion or Eureka would be all over this project like a rash. Believe me, Kevin would love to see this film seen by as many people as possible, but at present it is just too expensive. Incidentally, I saw this at the Royal Festival Hall in London on November 30th with live orchestral score conducted by Carl Davis and it was magnificent. It hardly felt like a five and three-quarter hour cinema experience it was so absorbing. I have not heard Carmine Coppola's score but if his Godfather scores are anything to go by (i.e. nowhere near as engaging or memorable as Niño Rota's original) it will be nothing to write home about.
    Reply
  • By Sofia Petrillo
    February 14, 2014
    12:02 AM

    I just put an old Sicilian curse on the entire Coppola family! Don't worry everyone, this movie will be out in no time!
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