Napoleon is in the news! For four performances only on March 24, 25, 31 and April 1, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival presents Kevin Brownlow's restoration of Abel Gance's epic masterpiece. This special event is set to take place in Oakland, California at the historic Oakland Paramount theater. Carl Davis will conduct the Oakland East Bay Symphony in a performance of his original score.
The San Francisco Chronicle devoted two big articles to the event in today's newspaper. "In its ambition, scale and success, there is nothing else in silent cinema like Abel Gance's Napoleon" writes San Francisco film critic Mick LaSalle, who goes on to describe Napoleon as "A film of grand emotion and astonishing technical sophistication." LaSalle's article, "Napoleon on big screen for 1st time in decades," can be found here.
Elsewhere in the paper, San Francisco Chronicle music critic Joshua Kosman chimed in with his own perspective on the event. "Carl Davis' weighty, majestic orchestral score is a project in a similar vein," Kosman notes, after observing "The restoration of Abel Gance's Napoleon amounts to a conversation between past and present, an effort to bring this powerful film into the modern era while keeping its essential qualities intact." Kosman's article, "Napoleon: Carl Davis' new music for a masterwork," can be found here.
Today's New York Times also carried a piece on Napoleon. Manohla Dargis' article, "Napoleon Is Lost, Long Live Napoleon!" looks at the film's long, convoluted history. The article concludes: "For American cinephiles there’s an indisputable reason to see Napoleon now: film. 'This print will probably never be seen again in the United States,' Mr. Harris said, given that a digital restoration is under way. (Version 21?) 'Projectors are going away,' he said and, alas, so too is film.'" The New York Times article can be found here.
More info about this very special event, as well as ticket availability, can be found at http://www.silentfilm.org/ Don't be like poor Antonin Artaud (the surrealist writer and one of the notable cast members of Napoleon depicted below) and miss out on this once in a generation cinematic event.