What (if anything) needs to be done to bring NAPOLEON up to snuff?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Dick, Nov 20, 2003.

  1. Dick

    Dick Producer
    Supporter

    Joined:
    May 22, 1999
    Messages:
    6,312
    Likes Received:
    2,332
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Maine
    Real Name:
    Rick
    Like so many classic film collectors, I eagerly await a DVD of this wonderful Gance film. I was quite impressed with the TCM broadcast of the Brownlow restoration, which I believe was supervised by Robert Harris, and am wondering if the DVD is being held up for further restoration, or because Universal simply isn't paying attention to its vast library of unreleased titles. Anyone have a clue?
     
  2. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2002
    Messages:
    3,530
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The delay has something to do with Francis Coppola. He owns the rights to the 1981 version that has his father's score, and he won't let Brownlow's 1980 version be released on home video. This most recent restoration has scenes previously available in 17.5mm that are now replaced by high-quality 35mm elements.

    http://www.silentera.com/info/napoleonrestoration.html

    Hopefully, we will see this legendary film on DVD soon in it's 330-minute version with all the bad scratches and blotches removed digitally.


    Gordy
     
  3. Jay E

    Jay E Cinematographer

    Joined:
    May 30, 2000
    Messages:
    2,483
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Has anyone purchased the Region 4 DVD of this film?
     
  4. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2001
    Messages:
    6,190
    Likes Received:
    76
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Livonia, MI USA
    Real Name:
    Kenneth McAlinden
     
  5. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

    Joined:
    May 16, 2001
    Messages:
    7,566
    Likes Received:
    195
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Georgia (the state)
    Real Name:
    Patrick McCart
    Robert Harris mainly supervised the U.S. release. He's also responsible for getting the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer materials from the Museum of Modern Art and supervised the recording of Carmine Coppola's score.

    The score was even recorded in the form of cues, so if the 5 1/2 version was imported to the U.S., Coppola's score could be re-mixed and re-edited to fit that version.

    The rights seem to be with Zoetrope, Universal, and CanalPlus+ right now... but Universal (who, I think, still has video rights) should license the film to either Kino or Criterion.

    Milestone Films will be releasing "Abel Gance: The Charm of Dynamite" in the near future, by the way.

    (Correction on MGM material)
     
  6. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1997
    Messages:
    4,300
    Likes Received:
    40
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Yeah, I've imported the Region 4 but haven't had a chance to sit down with it. If I get a spare moment this weekend I'll take a look and report back with a thumbnail review.
     
  7. Jay E

    Jay E Cinematographer

    Joined:
    May 30, 2000
    Messages:
    2,483
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Thanks Mark!
     
  8. Claes Ljunghorn

    Claes Ljunghorn Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 1999
    Messages:
    134
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    That would be great, Mark!
     
  9. Rob Gardiner

    Rob Gardiner Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2002
    Messages:
    2,950
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I understand that there are three "restored" versions of this film.

    The shortest, shown in the US, has the Coppola score.

    A longer version, shown in the UK, has a score by Carl Davis (if I remember correctly).

    France has the longest version of all, and I do not know anything about the score on that version.

    Can anyone add more info? I have only seen the laserdisc, which contains the short US version.
     
  10. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1997
    Messages:
    4,300
    Likes Received:
    40
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I believe Kevin Brownlow did all three restorations, which are more properly considered stages in a single restoration that's not yet finished. Short of a complete print miraculously turning up, it'll never be finished and will always be something of a work in progress. But I'd sure like to see where he has it now. [​IMG]
     
  11. Mark_vdH

    Mark_vdH Screenwriter

    Joined:
    May 9, 2001
    Messages:
    1,035
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I also own this dvd (it's only encoded R4 BTW), I've seen it a while ago and I'd say it's a fairly good presentation of the '81 restoration (however: I've never seen the other versions before, and the '81 version only once on TV), with the Carmine Coppola score presented in DD 2.0.

    For the curious, the triptech (sp?) finale was handled like this: The dvd slowly zooms out on the last 4:3 shot before the first triptech shot, and then the whole triptech finale (including the 1.33:1 shots within the finale) is shown in non-anamorphic widescreen - the triptech shots in non-anamorphic scope* and the 1.33:1 shots in 1.78:1.

    So, if you have a 16:9 set, you only have to push the "ZOOM" button only once, as the 1.33:1 shots then fit perfectly (although of course in a lower resolution) on your TV screen. When you have a 4:3 set however, the 1.33:1 shots will be (pretty heavily) windowboxed.

    *I know it should be 4.00:1 but it isn't, it looked closer to 3.00:1.

    EDIT:
     
  12. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

    Joined:
    May 16, 2001
    Messages:
    7,566
    Likes Received:
    195
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Georgia (the state)
    Real Name:
    Patrick McCart
    In 1981, two versions of the silent version were released. (a longer version re-edited by Gance into more of a "documentary" with 1927 footage combined with new 1970's footage was also released, but a few years earlier)

    The European version was shown at 20fps and had Carl Davis' score. I think it was around 4 2/3 hrs. long. (I wish I had Brownlow's book on the film with me)

    The "Zoetrope" version had a few scenes excised and ran at 24fps. This had Carmine Coppola's score.

    I think in the mid-1980's, Brownlow tracked down an original print in Corsica (how ironic!) of the 18-reel version. This replaced most if not all of the grainy 9.5mm and 17.5mm footage.

    Also, in the recent years, the intertitles have been re-shot to replicate the original film's "Old English" typeface. The BFI has also used genuine tinting and toning.


    I strongly advise fans of Napoleon vu par Abel Gance to track down Kevin Brownlow's book on the film either on eBay or at your local libraries.

    Add: It seems that the VHS is now out of print.
     
  13. Claes Ljunghorn

    Claes Ljunghorn Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 1999
    Messages:
    134
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The latest restoration of "Napoleon" premiered in London june 3, 2000. I did see it then with Carl Davis conducting his own score. It runs 5 hours and 33 minutes at a mix of 18 (the first chapter of the film) and 20 fps (the rest of the film). The difference from the "Coppola version" is not only in length and music, but mainly in picture quality. It looked really stunningly beautiful with it's print that had been tinted in the old fashioned manner (Bathing the BW print in dye). The restoration was a collaboration between the french and the british archives I believe, making their respective versions the same except for the language of the titles.

    This is the version we want on DVD, not the shortened version of the 1980s restoration.
     
  14. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 1999
    Messages:
    10,068
    Likes Received:
    6,809
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Real Name:
    Robert Harris
    The M-G-M material, at approximately 80 minutes came from M-G-M, who held some elements, but no longer rights.

    MOMA had absolutely nothning to do with Napoleon.

    Kevin Brownlow reconstructed and restored Napoleon. My involvement was acquisition of footage for Kevin primarilly from the M-G-M material (the fortune teller sequence and others) and additional scenes from Bonaparte et la Revolution (the ball sequence and misc footage).

    I worked with Universal to do a transfer some twenty years ago, which is now archaic.

    The Davis and Coppola versions are musically quite different in concept, and are both fine scores. The "new, longer" version contains footage which Abel Gance felt slowed the film. The Violine sequences are an example.

    RAH
     
  15. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2002
    Messages:
    7,626
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    wow this is another amazing thread about a lost classic that needs to be released.

    Cheers for the info
     
  16. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

    Joined:
    May 16, 2001
    Messages:
    7,566
    Likes Received:
    195
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Georgia (the state)
    Real Name:
    Patrick McCart
    According to DVD-Aff., StudioCanal is releasing Napoleon onto a DVD in Greece.

    I can't seem to find any other information, though.
     
  17. Jaime_Weinman

    Jaime_Weinman Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2001
    Messages:
    786
    Likes Received:
    17
    Trophy Points:
    0
    What about the music Arthur Honegger wrote for the premiere of the film? Has anyone done a score based on that? I don't like Carmine Coppola's score (though I don't feel as strongly about it as Miklos Rozsa, who fumed that "They threw out Honegger's score and used a terrible composer, the father of Francis Coppola"), and what I've heard of Davis's didn't please me much more -- the suite from Honegger's score that I've heard was, unsurprisingly, much more impressive. Surely any proper restoration of the movie should make at least some effort at a restored musical score.
     
  18. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

    Joined:
    May 16, 2001
    Messages:
    7,566
    Likes Received:
    195
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Georgia (the state)
    Real Name:
    Patrick McCart
    Honegger's score apparently survives in some form... there is CD album out there with a piece or two from the score.
     
  19. Jack Theakston

    Jack Theakston Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2003
    Messages:
    858
    Likes Received:
    68
    Trophy Points:
    610
    Location:
    New York
    Real Name:
    Jack Theakston
    There is also a compiled cue sheet for the American release by Ernst Luz. It's made up of compiled Photoplay cues as far as I can tell.

    The sheet says the release is 8 reels (6830 ft) and has a maximum running speed of 1 hour, 15 minutes, which at 9 1/3 minutes per reel...assuming all the reels are about 850 feet per reel (norm being 1000), the framerate would be something ridiculous like 26 or 27 fps. I've got a chart for conversion, but it only lists things based on a 1000 ft per reel basis. I wonder what the American release ran per reel?
     
  20. Claes Ljunghorn

    Claes Ljunghorn Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 1999
    Messages:
    134
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
     

Share This Page