Napoléon Reviews

  • Jan 15, 2018

    I would have a difficult time trying to describe a movie-watching experience that was more boring than watching Abel Gance’s Napoleon. For one thing, I’ve never been that interested in history, so a film about the life of Napoleon from childhood through a good portion of his military career is already of no interest to me. Add to that the fact that it is a silent film, and I’m already starting to glaze over. Then there’s the kicker…it’s more than 5 hours long! Apparently there’s a cut of the film that is shorter, and I wish I was able to find that, because this was agonizing to watch. In 5 hours they could have encompassed the whole of French history for me, but they don’t even make it to the end of Napoleon’s career. Bored doesn’t seem to be a strong enough word for how I felt as I watched Abel Gance’s endurance test. I felt like I was the one who had been through war trying to keep myself awake and maintain any interest at all in which character would show up next (whose name I would inevitably forget.) Occasionally a block of text would appear on screen and I’d have to snap my mind back to the present and try to figure out what they were talking about and why I should care. I would gladly read thousands of pages of a text book over watching a movie like this again. I think film historians probably praise Napoleon because there were a number of innovative film-making techniques that were experimented with in this movie, and I appreciate that Gance made an effort to do something new and different that the world had never seen before. I just wish it wasn’t done in the format of a news reel that goes on longer than a marathon.

    I would have a difficult time trying to describe a movie-watching experience that was more boring than watching Abel Gance’s Napoleon. For one thing, I’ve never been that interested in history, so a film about the life of Napoleon from childhood through a good portion of his military career is already of no interest to me. Add to that the fact that it is a silent film, and I’m already starting to glaze over. Then there’s the kicker…it’s more than 5 hours long! Apparently there’s a cut of the film that is shorter, and I wish I was able to find that, because this was agonizing to watch. In 5 hours they could have encompassed the whole of French history for me, but they don’t even make it to the end of Napoleon’s career. Bored doesn’t seem to be a strong enough word for how I felt as I watched Abel Gance’s endurance test. I felt like I was the one who had been through war trying to keep myself awake and maintain any interest at all in which character would show up next (whose name I would inevitably forget.) Occasionally a block of text would appear on screen and I’d have to snap my mind back to the present and try to figure out what they were talking about and why I should care. I would gladly read thousands of pages of a text book over watching a movie like this again. I think film historians probably praise Napoleon because there were a number of innovative film-making techniques that were experimented with in this movie, and I appreciate that Gance made an effort to do something new and different that the world had never seen before. I just wish it wasn’t done in the format of a news reel that goes on longer than a marathon.

  • Jan 15, 2018

    1001 movies to see before you die. Amazing visuals and great directing. Too long though.

    1001 movies to see before you die. Amazing visuals and great directing. Too long though.

  • Jun 03, 2017

    Are there even words powerful enough to describe this epic? Not even the word 'epic' seems to be suitable. This grand production is just a jaw-dropping experience, yes, experience, for 5+ hours that you spend watching Napoleon's story against the background of the events concurring his life renders you totally absorbed by it, like you've been taught a history lesson, very bright and memorable. The techniques used in this film is just an amalgam of everything the cinema was capable of back then, and much more. Your head is spinning from all the innovations and unconventional camera movements that the film is full of. I'd say that the whole movie is a long cinematic experience. You can only wonder what fountain of energy flowed from the director when he was filming this legendary film. I'm very glad that I live in the time when the finally released the restored version of this picture.

    Are there even words powerful enough to describe this epic? Not even the word 'epic' seems to be suitable. This grand production is just a jaw-dropping experience, yes, experience, for 5+ hours that you spend watching Napoleon's story against the background of the events concurring his life renders you totally absorbed by it, like you've been taught a history lesson, very bright and memorable. The techniques used in this film is just an amalgam of everything the cinema was capable of back then, and much more. Your head is spinning from all the innovations and unconventional camera movements that the film is full of. I'd say that the whole movie is a long cinematic experience. You can only wonder what fountain of energy flowed from the director when he was filming this legendary film. I'm very glad that I live in the time when the finally released the restored version of this picture.

  • Nov 11, 2016

    Astounding. A mind blowing spectacle of breathtaking cinematic virtuosity that proves once and for all that film really hasn't innovated since 1927.

    Astounding. A mind blowing spectacle of breathtaking cinematic virtuosity that proves once and for all that film really hasn't innovated since 1927.

  • Jul 31, 2016

    Due to the dedication of Film Historian Kevin Brownlow & the BFI we now today have a 5.5 hour version of the original 6 version available for Home Video. The scope & visual strength of this film has to be seen to be believed. The in-depth story of Napoleon Bonaparte starting with his school days, his days in the island of Corsica, fight against the English, French Revolution & the epic battle with Italy. The energy & excitement of this film for 1927 is unparalleled. The invention & craft in this film is extraordinary & true tour de force film, a must see for film lovers.

    Due to the dedication of Film Historian Kevin Brownlow & the BFI we now today have a 5.5 hour version of the original 6 version available for Home Video. The scope & visual strength of this film has to be seen to be believed. The in-depth story of Napoleon Bonaparte starting with his school days, his days in the island of Corsica, fight against the English, French Revolution & the epic battle with Italy. The energy & excitement of this film for 1927 is unparalleled. The invention & craft in this film is extraordinary & true tour de force film, a must see for film lovers.

  • Feb 02, 2015

    I doubt I'll ever see another film like it. Easily in my top 5 silent films ever. Possibly even the greatest.

    I doubt I'll ever see another film like it. Easily in my top 5 silent films ever. Possibly even the greatest.

  • Aug 12, 2014

    epic in every sense and innovative in execution. it really is a feast for the eyes.

    epic in every sense and innovative in execution. it really is a feast for the eyes.

  • Aug 01, 2014

    Similarly to Metropolis, Napoleon is visually innovative, and ahead of its time, but it's still not all that interesting.

    Similarly to Metropolis, Napoleon is visually innovative, and ahead of its time, but it's still not all that interesting.

  • Mar 26, 2014

    The Napoleon of Abel gance is different , a virtuous man, a hero. This is a movie which argument increases the french nationalism.

    The Napoleon of Abel gance is different , a virtuous man, a hero. This is a movie which argument increases the french nationalism.

  • Dec 01, 2013

    The London screening of this was accompanied by the London Philharmonic conducted by Carl Davis and had the estimable Kevin Brownlow in attendance. It was quite simply the film event of the year for many people and the ten minute standing ovation at the end summed up the crowd's feelings of rapture. A breathtaking film which manages to cram in more innovation and more memorable images into its running time than possibly any other film. Not every second of it is perfect but the highs are unbeatable. The three screen finale stands among the most thrilling in cinema.

    The London screening of this was accompanied by the London Philharmonic conducted by Carl Davis and had the estimable Kevin Brownlow in attendance. It was quite simply the film event of the year for many people and the ten minute standing ovation at the end summed up the crowd's feelings of rapture. A breathtaking film which manages to cram in more innovation and more memorable images into its running time than possibly any other film. Not every second of it is perfect but the highs are unbeatable. The three screen finale stands among the most thrilling in cinema.