Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Napoleon TRIUMPHANT! Only two more chances to see it!


Don't dare miss
"A DAY YOU WILL REMEMBER FOR
THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!"

"At 9:40 p.m. Saturday, the near-capacity crowd at the 3,000-seat Paramount Theatre rose from the places it had settled into eight hours earlier and cheered a mighty cheer, the kind of full-throated, sustained roar not usually heard in a movie theater. The audience had just lived through one of the world's great cinematic experiences: an all-day screening (complete with snack and dinner breaks) of Abel Gance's mesmerizing 5 1/2-hour silent film from 1927, accompanied by Carl Davis conducting the 46-piece Oakland East Bay Symphony, performing his own superb score. Their applause and shouts paid tribute to both the sustaining power of this kind of moviegoing experience and to Gance's creative genius."

ONLY TWO MORE CHANCES!
Sat. March 31 | Sun. April 1 

 *"You walk out EXHILARATED! Unlike anything I've ever experienced  
in a movie theater. It's a day you will remember for the rest of your life!" 
 Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

"If you don't make an effort to be there you'll miss one of  
the great moviegoing events of your life!"
  
 Napoleon photograph © Pamela Gentile
 __________________________________________________________________

 When is dinner? How long is the film? The FAQs are here!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A fragment of Napoleon

Abel Gance's 1927 film, Napoleon, was the subject of considerable press attention in France, especially among film publications. Here is a magazine article excerpting Gance's scenario. The scene is "Les Enrolements de 1791." (You should be able to download and read larger version of each scanned page.) This piece dates from 1927. 

Two performances remain of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival's presentation of Kevin Brownlow's restoration of Napoleon at the Oakland Paramount. They take place on March 31 and April 1st. For this special event, Carl Davis will  conduct the Oakland East Bay Symphony in a performance of his original score. More info about this very special event, as well as remaining ticket availability, can be found at http://www.silentfilm.org/

 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Twitter sphere abuzz over Napoleon

"Shattered all expectations ," "Tremendous," "Electrifying. Riveting," "A blast," and "a fantabulous epic" were just of the tweets referencing the San Francisco Silent Film Festival's presentation of Kevin Brownlow's restoration of Abel Gance's Napoleon at the Oakland Paramount.  Others tweeted "one of the great silent movies" and "totally / epic. Did not expect the / handheld camera!" As well as "I've never flown to another city just to watch a 5+ hr silent film...until today!" and "cinema event / of a lifetime today. no, / not the hunger games."


Toronto free-lance journalist Eric Veillette flew in for the special screening. Early on in the screening he tweeted "Even if abandoned after the snowball fight it wld still be the greatest 1 reeler ever made." Near the film's finale, Veillette posted "The moment the curtains revealed the tryptich, the gasp was in unison." And after the five-and-one-half-hour epic had ended, he tweeted again, "At closing, the applause for @CarlDavisMusic was ferocious, but got louder when Abel Gance's sig appeared on screen."



The buzz on Twitter by those who have seen Napoleon at the Oakland Paramount has been overwhelmingly positive. Even composer and conductor Carl Davis, who led the Oakland East Bay Symphony in a performance of his original score, tweeted, "Seeing children at the screening of #NAPOLEON gives me hope for the world." 


Another film buff tweeted, "In 6 hours, we will belong to the first of two groups the world is again divided into: those who have seen NAPOLEON, and those who have not."

Don't miss out. Two performances remain of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival's presentation of Kevin Brownlow's restoration of Abel Gance's Napoleon (1927) at the Oakland Paramount. They take place on March 31 and April 1st. For this special event, Carl Davis will again conduct the Oakland East Bay Symphony in a performance of his truly remarkable original score. More info about this very special event, as well as remaining ticket availability, can be found at http://www.silentfilm.org/

[Also be sure and check out Lou Lumenick's glowing first review in the New York Post. In "Gance's 'Napoleon' (1927): About as good as it gets," the newspaper critic himself rhapsodizes ecstatic when he calles Gance's masterpiece "one of the most elusive great films" and his viewing of it "the experience of a lifetime . . . I was so overwhelmed." Lumenick adds, "In the meantime, there are tickets available for next weekend in Oakland, and it's worth begging, borrowing and/or stealing to partake of -- no hype here, honest -- the film experience of a lifetime."]

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Napoleon in the news and in pictures

Napoleon's four day stand at the Oakland Paramount in Oakland, California begins today! The San Francisco Silent Film Festival is presenting Kevin Brownlow's restoration of Abel Gance's epic masterpiece for four performances only on March 24, 25, 31 and April 1. For this special event, Carl Davis will conduct the Oakland East Bay Symphony in a performance of his original score. More info about this very special event, as well as remaining ticket availability, can be found at http://www.silentfilm.org/


For awesome behind-the-scenes pictures of the theater set up - including the arrival of the film (all 17 reels), the building of a special projection booth, the construction of a mammoth screen, and Carl Davis' rehearsal of the Oakland East Bay Symphony - be sure and check out film preservationist and blogger Rob Byrne's Flicker stream. Here are a couple of them.


Another fine slide show of behind-the-scenes images and other pictures can be found at the Oakland Tribune's article on the event, "Napoleon conquers the Paramount in Oakland." Academy Award winner Kevin Brownlow has dubbed this complex production "live cinema." Don't miss the "greatest film ever made" and what promises to the "silent film event of the year."
 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Siege of Oakland


Carl Davis rehearsing with the Oakland East Bay Symphony

The preparation and build-out for Napoleon is underway!  The Paramount is no stranger to large music productions, but they have never seen a film production that requires a move-in on the scale required for Napoleon.  This morning two semi-trucks disgorged their contents through the Paramount back stage loading dock, and if you didn't know if was for Napoleon you would have guessed they were preparing for the Rolling Stones.  
Crews begin constructing the massive triple-screen
Over the next couple of days Boston Light and Sound will install temporary projection booths, lighting, sound, and the enormous triple screen that will extend wall-to-wall across the entire width of the Paramount theatre.  Today rigging professionals began erecting the framework for the massive screens, and carpenters have begun construction of the projection platforms.

The film print itself arrived this morning and the projectionist crew (projection requires a crew of three) got busy preparing the print for projection.  This unique print, the only existing copy, consists of an unprecedented seventeen reels which must be assembled and ultimately synchronized for performance across three projectors.

Elsewhere in Oakland, Carl Davis completed the second day of rehearsal with the Oakland East Bay Symphony and is exceptionally pleased with their progress.  Yesterday was devoted to the first two acts of the film, and today they made their way through the rest of the epic.  Tomorrow they will address specific areas, leading up to a full rehearsal run-through on Friday.  

Carl Davis rehearsing with the Oakland East Bay Symphony




New audio emerges for Napoleon!

New audio for Napoleon emerged this morning. Today, filmmaker and film historian Kevin Brownlow and San Francisco Silent Film Festival artistic director Anita Monga appeared on "Forum," with Michael Krasney. The program is broadcast on the local NPR radio station KQED-FM. [Visit the program webpage to either download or listen to program.] Brownlow and Monga's 30 minute conversation with Krasny can also be heard below.


Along with other guests, Kevin Brownlow will also be appearing on "West Coast Live" on Saturday, March 24th. The Sedge Thomson-hosted show can be heard locally in the San Francisco Bay Area on KALW-FM (91.7 on the dial). In addition to numerous AM and FM stations across the United States, "West Coast Live" reaches a world-wide audience through archived and streaming shows on the internet. Listen to your radio - or the radio stations' internet streams - during the 10:00 am (Pacific Coast Time) broadcast.  Some stations carry the show live, others re-broadcast later in the week. "West Coast Live" is also streamed via the internet live on the KALW website.

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival is presenting Kevin Brownlow's restoration of Abel Gance's epic masterpiece, Napoleon, for four performances only on March 24, 25, 31 and April 1. 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. More info about this very special event, as well as ticket availability, can be found at http://www.silentfilm.org/


If you are still on the fence about attending Napoleon, then check out Laura Emerick's terrefic article in today's Chicago Sun Times. "Epic Napoleon reigns again on screen" can be found here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How to beat the Napoleon blues and other Napoleon news

Silent London, a popular silent film blog out of England, today ran a long post about the upcoming San Francisco Silent Film Festival presentation of Kevin Brownlow's restoration of Abel Gance's Napoleon. That post, "How to beat the Napoléon blues," details some of media and web coverage given the upcoming event (including a shout out to this blog). The film, director Gance, and film historian Brownlow are all included. 

Another two blog entries, by Sean Axmaker, can be found here (about the film) and here (about Carl Davis' score). Other media which gave coverage to the event include Oakland Local and gobayview.com. More are expected.


The San Francisco Silent Film Festival presents Kevin Brownlow's restoration of Abel Gance's epic masterpiece for four performances only on March 24, 25, 31 and April 1. 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. More info about this very special event, as well as ticket availability, can be found at http://www.silentfilm.org/  Don't miss out on this once in a generation cinematic event!


If you are still on the fence about experiencing what the Smithsonian magazine blog calls the "silent film event of the year," then here are more than 10 reasons not to miss Napoleon!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Napoleon in the news again x3

Napoleon is in the news, again! 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.

Yesterday, both the San Francisco Chronicle and New York Times ran articles on the upcoming event. Check out the prior blog for links to those two articles.

And today, Kristin M. Jones penned an article in the Wall Street Journal which looked at the history of the film and Kevin Brownlow's current restoration. Jones spoke with the British film historian. "Is Napoleon still for Mr. Brownlow the greatest film ever made? Reached by phone at his home in London, he said: 'Yes, because it is the most innovative film that I've ever seen. It even exceeds Citizen Kane in the number of ideas it comes up with, and yet it can be remarkably simple if it needs to be." Jones article, "The Restoration of a Dictator," can be found here.

Today's Los Angeles Times also ran a short article on the film."Like the great man himself, returning in triumph from exile in Elba, the legendary 1927 silent motion picture Napoleon is coming back. But it's not returning to New York, the site of its previous success in 1981 — instead, it will make landfall right here in the great state of California." Kenneth Turan's article, "Widescreen silent 1927 epic Napoleon to be shown in Oakland," can be found here.

And over at The Evening Class blog, Michael Guillen has an interview with Charles Tabesh, Senior Vice President of Programming for Turner Classic Movies (TCM), Napoleon's Official Media Sponsor.

More info about this very special event, as well as ticket availability, can be found at http://www.silentfilm.org/  Don't miss out on this once in a generation cinematic event!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Napoleon in the news x2

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.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

NPR and PBS cover Napoleon

Both National Public Radio (NPR) and the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) have reported on the upcoming San Francisco Silent Film Festival presentation of Napoleon. Kevin Brownlow's restoration of Abel Gance's epic cinematic tour de force will be shown for four performances only on March 24, 25, 31 and April 1. This once in a generation cinematic 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 NPR piece, "Napoleon' Returns To Conquer — The Screen" was heard today on radio stations across the United States. Be sure and visit this page on the NPR website to listen to the nearly 7 minute story. (There is also a transcript of the story on the NPR site.) And as well, be sure and check out the two brief audio interview extras with Kevin Brownlow and Carl Davis linked from the NPR page.

Earlier this year, PBS also ran a story titled "1927's 'Napoleon' Set for Grand Premiere" on this historic screening of the silent masterpiece. Commentator Jeffrey Brown spoke with Kevin Brownlow about the film and filmmaker Abel Gance. The nearly 7 minute PBS story is embedded below.



And what's more, the Smithsonian Magazine blog also ran an article on Napoleon. "Forget the Artist, the Restoration of Napoleon is the Silent Film Event of the Year" can be found at this link. More info and ticket availability at http://www.silentfilm.org/

Friday, March 16, 2012

The making of Napoleon #3


Here is a long magazine article about the making of Napoleon. Abel Gance's 1927 film was the subject of considerable press attention in France, and "La Technique de Napoleon" is one of a number of articles on the making of the epic. (You should be able to download and read larger version of each scanned page.)

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival is presenting Kevin Brownlow's restoration of Abel Gance's five-and-one-half hour Napoleon for four performances only on March 24, 25, 31 and April 1. This once in a generation cinematic event is set to take place in Oakland, California at the historic Oakland Paramount theater. Carl Davis will conduct the Oakland East Bay Symphony. More info and ticket availability at http://www.silentfilm.org/





Thursday, March 15, 2012

The making of Napoleon #2

Here are three French magazine articles on the making of Napoleon. Not surprisingly, there was widespread interest in France in the making of the epic film. At the time, numerous articles ran in various French newspapers and magazines - including the country's film journals - detailing the production.




The San Francisco Silent Film Festival is presenting Kevin Brownlow's restoration of Abel Gance's five-and-one-half hour Napoleon for four performances only on March 24, 25, 31 and April 1. This once in a generation cinematic event is set to take place in Oakland, California at the historic, art deco Oakland Paramount theater. Carl Davis will conduct the Oakland East Bay Symphony. More info and ticket availability at http://www.silentfilm.org/

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The making of Napoleon #1

Abel Gance's Napoleon (1927) was not only one of the longest and most expensive films ever made, it was and is one of the most complex. Gance staged panoramic scenes, shot on location, and tried out all manner of new approaches to cinematography in the hopes of involving the viewer in the spectacle of history.

He succeeded. But not all went well.  

Napoleon was a massive and ambitious undertaking. Certainly, some of Gance's cinematic experiments failed to accomplish their desired result and ended up on the cutting room floor. And at other times, actors were injured - if only slightly - in the staging of battle scenes, as this newspaper article from the time states.

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival is presenting Kevin Brownlow's restoration of Abel Gance's five-and-one-half hour Napoleon for four performances only on March 24, 25, 31 and April 1. This once in a generation cinematic event is set to take place in Oakland, California at the historic, art deco Oakland Paramount theater. Carl Davis will conduct the Oakland East Bay Symphony. 

More info and ticket availability at http://www.silentfilm.org/


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The literature of Napoleon

For the upcoming presentation of Napoleon at the Paramount Theater in Oakland, California - the San Francisco Silent Film Festival is creating a keepsake program. Once issued, it will become the latest addition to a small but distinguished body of work about Abel Gance's 1927 masterpiece. . . . as well as another reason to attend the event.

Here is a survey of some of the earlier books and programs about Napoleon (1927). They include the illustrated program issued when the film premiered in Paris; a commemorative program published by Zoetrope Studios in 1981 (around the time the first restoration showed in New York and elsewhere); Abel Gance's scenario and writings on the film published in book form in France in 1927; another French title, Napoleon: Epopee cinegraphique en cinq epoques, by Abel Gance which was published in 1991; Kevin Brownlow's book on the film - published in the United States and England in both softcover and hardback in 1983 - it was reissued by the BFI in 2008 with an accompanying audio CD; and Nelly Kaplan's book about the film - published by the British Film Institute in 2008. Except for the Nelly Kaplan book, each of these titles is out-of-print and/or otherwise somewhat hard-to get.


Above: the 24 page program for Abel Gance's epic film, produced for its world premiere at the Opera House in Paris in April, 1927. Its pages are lavishly illustrated with hand-colored stills. The last page shows the interior of the Capitol Theatre in New York City, where the film would have its American opening in 1928. Copies can sell fro more than $1000.


Above: published by Plon in 1927, this is Abel Gance's scenario for Napoleon. This rare French book features 32 stills from the film. Copies sell for hundreds of dollars.




Above: three different editions of Kevin Browlow's book on Napoleon, which contains more than 105 photographs and stills from the film, including the famous triptych. Top left is the British hardback in 1983 and top right its American counterpart (the hardback and paperbacks looked the same). Lower right is the 2008 BFI reissue which originally included an audio CD of Arthur Honneger's original score to the film. Regrettably, it quickly went out of print.


Two more recent books about Napoleon. Above left is Nelly Kaplan's book about the film, published by the British Film Institute in 2008 as part of their BFI Film Classics series. Director, scriptwriter, and author Nelly Kaplan was an intimate collaborator of Gance from 1954 to 1964. She gained access to rare documents by the director - some unpublished, which appear for the first time in this book. Right is Gance's book on the film, edited by Bambi Ballard and with an introduction by Kevin Brownlow. This softcover book was published by Faber and Faber in  the UK in 1990.

If you are looking to obtain any of these titles, try searching some of the online bookstores including abe.com or alibris.com  Also, composer and conductor Carl Davis has copies of Kevin Brownlow's book (the 2008 BFI edition) which comes with a free CD of highlights from the Carl Davis score. This offer is good while supplies last. Copies may be purchased through his website at
http://www.carldaviscollection.com/otherdetail.php?ID=10


Monday, March 12, 2012

Napoleon in the news

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival's upcoming presentation of Abel Gance's Napoleon (1927) is making news.

Photo: Albert Dieudonné in “Napoleon.” Credit: San Francisco Silent Film Festival.

Los Angeles-based film historian, writer and regular San Francisco Silent Film Festival attendee Mary Mallory has penned a terrific article on Napoleon and its critical reception. The article was published today on "The Daily Mirror," a blog focusing on Los Angeles history to which Mallory has contributed many articles on local film history. Be sure ansd check it out. The article can be found at http://ladailymirror.com/2012/03/12/mary-mallory-hollywood-heights-napoleon/

Elsewhere, James Neibaur's equally excellent and informative article on Napoleon appears in the current (Spring 2012) issue of Cineaste magazine. [The article is not available on the Cineaste website.] Neibaur's "The Return of the Emperor" looks at the film's making, it's problematic history, and restoration. The article features interviews with Kevin Brownlow and Patrick Stansbury of Photoplay Productions as well as composer Carl Davis. If you don't subscribe, visit your locl newsstand and ask for a copy of Cineaste.

Neibaur is a Madison, Wisconsin-based and widely published film historian with a handful books to his credit including Arbuckle And Keaton: Their 14 Film Collaborations (2006), The Fall of Buster Keaton: His Films for MGM, Educational Pictures, and Columbia (2010), and Early Charlie Chaplin: The Artist as Apprentice at Keystone Studios (2011). Forthcoming is Stan without Ollie: The Stan Laurel Solo Films, 1917-1927 (2012).

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival is presenting Kevin Brownlow's restoration of Abel Gance's  Napoleon for four performances only on March 24, 25, 31 and April 1. This once in a generation cinematic event is set to take place in Oakland, California at the Oakland Paramount. Carl Davis will conduct the Oakland East Bay Symphony. More info and ticket availability at http://www.silentfilm.org/

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A BIG thank you to our sponsors


A BIG thank you to our many special sponsors and supporters.
*    *    *    *    * 
TCM Sponsor Logo
________________________________________________________________________
 .
NAPOLEON SPONSORS

________________________________________________________________________

NAPOLEON PROMOTIONAL PARTNERS

_______________________________________________________________________
 .
NAPOLEON COMMUNITY PARTNERS
_______________________________________________________________________

STAY at the WATERFRONT HOTEL for NAPOLEON  
Stay at The Waterfront Hotel, official hotel sponsor for NAPOLEON, and receive vouchers for complimentary refreshments during the film's two 20-minute intermissions,
provided by Miss Pearl's Jam House.

Waterfront Hotel   Miss Pearl's 
*    *    *    *    * 


Silent Film Director App
OFFICIAL MOBILE SPONSOR of SFSFF
We are proud to announce Silent Film Director for iPhone as the official mobile partner of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Silent Film Director brings the magic and elegance of the silent era to the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, allowing you to shoot, edit and share your own silent films. With just a few taps you can add music, title cards, transitions, customize soundtracks, video effects and more. Coming soon, MacPhun LLC - the developer of Silent Film Director - will announce an international silent film contest, where everyone with an iPhone will have a chance to create their own silent masterpiece. Maybe it won't be another Napoleon or The Artist, but it will be your work of art and you will be the Silent Film Director

Friday, March 9, 2012

NAPOLEON is only two weeks away

San Francisco Silent Film Festival's monumental presentation of
Abel Gance's 1927 masterpiece NAPOLEON is only two weeks away! Watch for major coverage of this event in and on...
NY Times
 LA Times
Wall Street Journal
NPR
SF Chronicle.
... and other major local and national media outlets. But don't wait for the press to break... IT'LL BE TOO LATE! Remember, this event will NOT be presented again in Oakland or any other American city. There are absolutely, positively
FOUR PERFORMANCES ONLY: March 24, 25, 31, April 1
Paramount Theatre, Oakland 

Tickets are going fast, so don't delay -- BUY YOURS NOW!
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"A MAJOR EVENT! Don't wait for it to come to a theater near you - getting Gance's magnum opus up on a screen is a herculean task!"
- Martin Scorsese, Vanity Fair (March 2012)

"In 10 or 20 or 30 years, when this screening of Napoleon is only a memory, film lovers will ask -- were you there? 'Did you see the Napoleon  at the Paramount in 2012?'"
- Thomas Gladysz, Huffington Post

"You don't want to kick yourself afterwards for missing out on this experience!"
- Leonard Maltin, Movie Crazy
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Amazing! MUBI's Adrian Curry on the many faces of NAPOLEON posters
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If your friends or family are still on the fence, let our NAPOLEON FAQs do the talking!