Timed to coincide with the four screenings of Abel Gance’s masterpiece Napoleon (1927) at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland (March 24–April 1), the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and Berkeley Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive are delighted to welcome British film historian Kevin Brownlow to the PFA Theater for a lecture on the restoration of the film, a project that has preoccupied Brownlow for much of his prestigious career.
Brownlow, the first film historian ever honored with a special Academy Award in 2010, became fascinated with Gance’s film when still a schoolboy in London in the 1950s. “I was stunned by the cinematic flair,” says Brownlow. “I was exhilarated by the rapid cutting and the swirling camera movement. What daring! I had never seen anything comparable—and I set out to find more of it.” That determination led to a lifelong quest.
The first major Brownlow/BFI restoration culminated in a screening at the Telluride Film Festival in 1979, with eighty-nine-year-old Gance watching from a nearby hotel window. In the intervening years, Brownlow has been involved with additional restorations. The current version of the film reclaims about thirty minutes of footage culled from archives around the world. Don’t miss this rare chance to hear Brownlow discuss the project. His talk will be illustrated with scenes from the film, accompanied by Judith Rosenberg on piano.
Kevin Brownlow: “Abel Gance’s Napoleon, A Restoration Project Spanning a Lifetime” takes place Friday, March 30, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. Live musical accompaniment will be provided by Judith Rosenberg on the piano.
For more information about the extremely rare screenings of Napoleon, presented by SFSFF with Carl Davis conducting the Oakland East Bay Symphony, visit silentfilm.org.
Interested individuals will also want to tune-in on March 24 when Kevin Brownlow appears on West Coast Live, a two-hour radio variety show hosted by Sedge Thomson which broadcasts live-to-satellite Saturday mornings in front of West Coast theater audience and coast-to-coast radio fans.