Silent Film Napoleon

March 31, 2012 by staff 

Silent Film Napoleon, Napoleon (played by Albert Dieudonne) overlooks the film’s final battle in an example of the famous “Polyvision” technique used in Abel Gance’s epic ‘Napoleon.’ Vladimir Roudenko as the young Napoleon in Abel Gance’s epic ‘Napoleon.’ The San Francisco Silent Film Festival will present the U.S. premiere of Kevin Brownlow’s complete restoration.

In 1927, director Abel Gance presented Parisian audiences with Napoleon, an epic cinematic rendering of the Gallic emperor’s life that broke new ground in visual storytelling, which included freeing the camera from the tripod and projecting onto three screens.

It was also endless, clocking in – depending on the director’s cut du jour- at anywhere from six to nine hours. Gance said he had six movies in mind but made one, which is as if George Lucas had asked fanboys to watch all six Star Wars episodes in one sitting.

For anyone interested in silent films, Oakland is the place to be for the next week. The Bay Area city plays host to four screenings of one of the most complete versions yet of Napoleon, at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival on Saturday, Sunday, March 31 and April 1 (

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