Napoleon

Rome: Cité Films, 1927. Original French program for Abel Gance's epic 1927 film, produced for the world premiere at the Garneier Opera House in Paris. Perhaps film history's grandest epic, tracing Napoleon's life and career from his days as a schoolboy through the French Revolution. Director Gance intended this to be a six-part series, but only the first segment--originally close to 6 hours in length--was completed. The film made pioneering use of "widescreen" presentation by shooting with 3 cameras, and there is evidence that some footage was shot in dual-strip 35mm 3-D format (though not included in any of the releases) and much use of hand-held cameras, a technique that was radical at the time. The film was restored in 1981 to a 4-hour version and in 2004 to a 5-hour version (still only viewable in Europe due to copyright restrictions on the 1981 version), with new musical scores composed each time. Card wrappers, 9.25 by 13.25 inches, 12 pages. Very Good plus, lightly handled with brief soil.

Interestingly, Gance had a cameraman shooting behind-the-scenes footage throughout the production, which left film scholars with a spectacular record of how the film was produced. The gala premiere represented by this program was to benefit several interests, all announced on laid-in leaf inside the front wrapper. The pages are lavishly illustrated and have period borders and graphics, with many hand-colored stills. The last page shows the interior of the great Capitol Theatre in New York City where the film would have its American opening. Four-color card wrappers, rope binding, 24 pages, 9.75 x 13 inches. Pages Near Fine, wrapper Very Good or better with some short tears and yapping at the edges. A remarkably clean example of a rare surviving piece from the earliest days of French cinema, and one of the world's most important epics.


[Book #121921]

Price: $1,650.00