of the greatest of classic movies has finally made it on to DVD
and it is a must for not only history buffs, but those interested
in watching some utterly stunning and innovative film-making.
Gance's Napoleon was made in 1927 and is a silent movie par
the idea of silence puts anyone off - this version was restored
in 1991 and has a beautiful stereo soundtrack.
as you would expect, follows Napoleon Bonaparte, a man who emerged
from minor nobility on Corsica and rose to lead France out of revolutionary
was the greatest general Europe has ever had and rivals Alexander
the Great for all-time honours. His rule of France was both tyrannical
and enlightened and the Era that has his name was marked by almost
constant warfare against Britain, Austria, Prussia and Russia.
covers the childhood and early career of Bonaparte and features
historical figures such as Robespierre, Danton, Marat, Barras, Josephine
(Napoleon's first wife) and many, many others.
great moments of the French Revolution and Napoleon's rise include
his time at the Brienne College (and the famous snowball fight),
his crucial part in the capture of Toulon, his imprisonment and
that of Josephine and the assassination of Marat.
is a true epic and goes for almost four hours, although that time
seems to fly by. There will be times when you have to smile about
the silent-movie-style melodrama, but overall the acting is very
Gance made Napoleon he used coloured-tinting, split screens
and devised a way to film ultra-wide scenes three times and combined
them in a wide-screen triptych.
video transfer of Napoleon is - considering the age of the
original - superb and the sound has had the stereo workover.
is cinematic art at its height although, it has to be said, Napoleon
was a commercial disaster - but that shouldn't stop modern viewers
enjoying a rich cinematic treat.