San Francisco Silent Film Festival Debuting New Print Of ‘Napoleon,’ Adds 30 Minutes Of Previously Lost Footage

While people may be excited about new releases when looking at the film festival slate that is ahead of us this early part of 2012, it’s a silent masterpiece that is trying to make a splash.

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival has revealed that TCM will be the ‘Official Media Sponsor’ of the Abel Gance classic, ‘˜Napoleon.’   The film, which is set to be the focus of four screenings in Oakland on March 24, 25, 31 and April 1, has recently undergone a huge restoration by iconic historian Kevin Brownlow and the BFI, and will also debut a new score by Carl Davis.   At this point, no more US screenings are slated.

The film, which here will clock in at a dense five and a half hours in length, will play in the US with an orchestra for the first time since Francis Ford Coppola’s road trip of the film in the early 1980’s, and is one of the most interesting additions to this early year cinephile slate.   I have actually never seen the film, but now with 30 minutes of previously lost footage, one has to expect that the likes of Criterion are going to be hunting this sucker’s rights down and quickly.   Here’s to hoping they can nab this up and get it on Blu-ray quick.   I can’t wait to see this.

What do you think?

Source  TCM

Joshua Brunsting

Josh is a critic, a member of the Online Film Critics Society, a wrestling nerd, a hip-hop head, a father, a cinephile and a man looking to make his stamp on the world, one word at a time.


  • I saw the Coppola version which I enjoyed, but found a bit rushed (it was sped up in addition to missing footage). I have a ticket for this screening, the most I’ve ever paid for a film. It’s not likely to get a release because 1.) Coppola holds the US rights & prevented the release of the full version in the past so that his own father’s score could be used. 2.) the final reel is actually 3 reels shot side by side (ie. widescreen)… the difference in aspect ratio would make a home version difficult.

  • I thought Coppola had tried to block it even being screened at the cinema before.  Pleasantly surprised at this and hopefully one day the Brownlow version will get a DVD release.

  • You can read a pretty good description of the Coppola/Brownlow dispute here:

    Irrespective of the merits of Coppola’s claims, I doubt that Criterion would want face even the threat of a legal challenge from him or risk pissing off an icon of American cinema.  Or, perhaps the SF screening is the beginning of a thawing in relations between Coppola and Brownlow.

    Either way, the longer Brownlow restoration has aired on the BBC, and recordings of the broadcast are floating around the internets and can be found without too much trouble.

  • 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

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