Nearly a century after its debut, the film world anticipates the grand return of a treasured classic: Abel Gance’s ‘Napoleon.’ The film, painstakingly restored over sixteen years, is poised to enchant audiences as it premieres this year at the Cannes Film Festival as the opening film of Cannes Classics. This achievement heralds a pivotal event for lovers of classic cinema. The detailed restoration reunited pieces of this silent era treasure from various corners of the globe, meticulously reconstructing Gance’s vision for today’s viewers to appreciate.

The Restoration Journey of Abel Gance’s ‘Napoléon’

The meticulous restoration process of ‘Napoleon’ was nothing short of remarkable. Spearheaded by film expert Georges Mourier, he and his crew embarked on a global scavenger hunt. They scoured archives, unearthing precious reels in places as diverse as the French Cinémathèque, the Toulouse and Corsican archives, and even farther corners like Denmark and Serbia.

With the help of Gance’s personal editing instructions and letters located in France’s national library, the team embarked on a laborious frame-by-frame revival. Their commitment has finally brought the closest version of the original film back to life, unearthing a 7-hour epic tale split into two segments, which faced multiple re-cuts and versions since its 1927 debut.

Napoleon Restoration Cannes

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

Napoleon Restoration Cannes

Albert Dieudonné in & as Napoleon (1927)
Albert Dieudonné in & as Napoleon (1927)

Debuting at Cannes Classics

In a fitting tribute to this cinema classic, ‘Napoléon’ will make its grand entrance at the Cannes Film Festival as the opening showpiece for the Cannes Classics program. This event is not just a screening but a cultural spectacle. The first segment, which runs for 3 hours and 40 minutes, will tantalize viewers at Cannes, setting the stage for the full experience.

The celebration doesn’t end there. Audiences will have the chance to immerse themselves in the complete ‘Napoléon’ spectacle accompanied by a massive live orchestra. A group of 250 musicians from Radio France will perform the film score in sync with the movie’s July screenings in Paris and Montpellier.

After Cannes: The French Connection and Beyond

Following its showcase at Cannes, the film is poised for a summer tour throughout France, including stops at local festivals. For those who wish to experience this historic restoration in the theater, French cinemas will screen ‘Napoléon,’ ensuring ample opportunity for everyone to engage with this cinematic marvel. For those at home, the film is set to feature on France Télévisions and reach global audiences through Netflix.

Abel Gance’s ‘Napoléon,’ reconstructed with diligence and reverence for its original artistic expression, is more than just a film; it’s a tribute to the enduring power of silent cinema. The Cannes Film Festival, running from May 14 to 25, isn’t just opening its doors for another event; it’s opening a portal to the past, celebrating a momentous work that will soon flow through French cinemas and international platforms alike.

Also, Read: Brian Cox Criticizes Joaquin Phoenix’s Performance in Napoleon

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