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Napoleon (3-Disc Blu-ray Set) [Blu-ray]
(Abel Gance, 1927)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Ciné France
Region: 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Runtime: 1:53:43.291 + (Act 2 - 1:03:34, Act 3 - 1:47:08) 2:50:45.791 + (Act 4) 0:48:34.458
Disc One (Act One) Size: 41,975,915,461 bytes
Disc Two (Acts 2 + 3) Size: 49,768,370,253 bytes
Disc Three (Act 4) Size: 48,715,371,172 bytes
Act 1 Size: 31,346,578,944 bytes
Acts 2 + 3 Size: 42,712,768,512 bytes
Act 4 Size: 12,586,444,800 bytes
Video Bitrate: 27.57 Mbps / 24.39 Mbps / 25.21 Mbps
Chapters: 12 + 16 + 10
Case: Custom Blu-ray case (see photo below)
Release date: November 21st, 2016
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1 - (Act 4) 1.38:1
Resolution: 1080p / 24 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 4757 kbps 7.1 / 48 kHz / 4757 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
• Feature-length commentary by Dr. Paul Cuff
•The Charm of Dynamite (Kevin Brownlow, 1968, 51:34): BBC documentary on Glance's silent films, narrated by Lindsay Anderson
• Composing Napoleon - An Interview with Carl Davis) (2016, 45:42)
• Napoleon digital restoration featurette (2016, 5 mins)
• Stills and Special Collections Gallery (11:27)
• Alternative single-screening ending (played in isolation or with Act 4)
• Individual triptych panel presentations (21:20)
• Illustrated 60-page book with writing by Paul Cuff, Kevin Brownlow and Hervé Dumont, an extensive interview with Carl Davis; and full film, music and restoration credits
Description: Marking a new chapter in the history of one of
the world's greatest films, the release of Abel Gance's
Napoleon is the culmination of a project spanning 50
years. Digitally restored by the BFI National Archive and
Academy Award-winning film historian Kevin Brownlow, this
cinematic triumph is available to experience on
Blu-ray for the very first
This ambitious silent film, renowned for its groundbreaking camerawork and editing, portrays the early life of French ruler Napoleon Bonaparte (Albert Dieudonne), beginning with his childhood and ending with a successful military campaign in Italy. A native of Corsica, Napoleon becomes a staunch supporter of his island home, but eventually flees due to conflicts with its leadership. Once settled on the French mainland, Napoleon begins his climb up the military ranks.Excerpt from MRQE located HERE
The story behind Abel Gance's Napoleon (1927) is as exciting as
the film. A masterpiece adventure originally running nearly seven hours,
it breaks new ground with practically every shot, was filmed with
techniques twenty-five years ahead of its time, and was rescued from
oblivion by an obsessed teenager.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Abel Gance's Napoleon is advertised as a "New 2K restoration" transfer to Blu-ray from BFI actually described in the opening text screen as a "Restoration by the BFI National Archive and Photoplay Productions".
Each of the three discs (as multi-parts) are dual-layered and are 1080p / 24 fps. Bitrates are reasonably high and the image is extremely impressive. The 1080P supports contrast extremely well and the tints are rich and wonderfully realized the 1.33:1 frame (NOTE: the 4th Act - disc 3 - is in about the 1.37-1.38:1 aspect ratio.) There are still some light scratches but they are minimal and the overall quality is less consistent wholly dependant on the source condition even after the extensive restoration. This Blu-ray does a phenomenal job of showing the film Napoleon in an awe-inspiring, very textured, home theatre presentation. It really allows you to sink into the mood of being there - theatrically-like - to witness this historical marvel of cinema.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
The music was composed, arranged and conducted by Carl Davis. It comes in the option of a stirring DTS-HD Master 7.1 channel at a whopping 4757 kbps (24-bit) or a simpler, flatter linear PCM 2.0 channel at 2304 kbps. The surround sounds very impressive - often subtle depth is present and it gives a grand, epic feel to the presentation. Marvelous! The option of the LPCM is a good one for those more keen on a less dynamic representation. Often extremely robust audio for silent films seems unnatural - but I think the DTS-HD becomes a unifying part of the film experience. It is outstanding. The intertitles are English - and also occasionally tinted - see our samples above. My Oppo has identified the 3 discs as being region 'B'-locked.
I have not yet indulged in the feature-length commentary by Dr. Paul Cuff, Associate Fellow within the Department of Film & Television Studies at The University of Warwick, (author of A Revolution for the Screen: Abel Gance's Napoleon) - so I can't comment yetbut appreciate that it is available for such an incredibly long film. There are also some great video extras - The Charm of Dynamite is Kevin Brownlow's 1968, BBC documentary (occasionally seen on TCM) on Glance's silent films. It is narrated by Lindsay Anderson and runs 50+ minutes. There are some highly interesting shots of Gance and his cameramen shooting some scenes and there are some keen points of discussion about Gance. Composing Napoleon is a new 2016 in interview with Carl Davis about the score and it runs 3/4 of an hour. There is a short, new, piece on the digital restoration featurette, some stills and special collections galleries, alternative single-screening ending (played in isolation or with Act 4) and individual triptych panel presentations (left- 1st disc, center - 2nd, right - 3rd). The package (see image above) has a beautiful-bound illustrated 60-page book with writing by Paul Cuff, Kevin Brownlow and Hervé Dumont, an extensive interview with Carl Davis; and full film, music and restoration credits.
November 7th, 2016
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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