Thursday, 28 January 2016

Napoléon returns from exile

Vladimir Roudenko as a young Corsican named Bonaparte... Fantastic news today that the BFI are set to release Kevin Brownlow's restoration of Abel Gance's Napoléon on Blu-Ray in the Autumn, and with that in mind I've just watched the first hour of my 5hr 13min copy, which was sourced from a British TV screening, and by and large is very good looking, but reduces the triptych to a single screen - I'm assuming the BFI will letterbox this section. I'm looking forward to completing the film over the next few days, the first hour was tremendous - the snowball fight at the military school, Alexandre Koubitzky's firebrand Danton, the revolutionary zealots singing La Marseillaise for the first time, a gloomy Napoléon watching a man hung from his apartment window by a vicious mob... Hugely exciting stuff, and I had forgotten Gance's anarchic handheld camerawork and the hyper-editing - the snowball fight in particular crescendoes in a dizzying volley of frenzied cross-cutting and superimpositions. More thoughts to follow...

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