Saturday, October 02, 2010

Abel Gance et son Napoléon

FR (c) 1983 Nelly Kaplan et Cythère Films. D+SC+ED: Nelly Kaplan; P: Claude Makovski; DP:Jean Monsigny; M: Hubert Rostaing, Betty Willemetz; S: Guy Villette; Narrator: Michel Drucker; studio: Billancourt; 35 mm, 1592 m, 58' (24 fps), source: Cinémathèque Suisse, Lausanne. Viewed at Cinema Verdi, Pordenone (GCM) [without translation], 2 Oct 2010

David Robinson (GCM Catalogue): "Nelly Kaplan was to make two documentaries about her life-long friend – Abel Gance, hier et demain (1963), in which he appeared personally, and, after his death, the longer Abel Gance et son Napoléon (1983), which makes profitable use of Jean Arroy’s Autour de Napoléon (1927-28). Her official synopsis of the film says: “From unique and unpublished documents belonging to Gance, she has conceived a film which relates the genesis of his masterpiece… Entire sequences showing how Napoléon was filmed, … numerous and rare work photographs, the diary which Gance kept during the shooting, different manuscripts showing when and how the idea of the panoramic screen and Polyvision came to the great creator, and exceptional and unpublished sound documents – for example, the voice of Gance himself reading his famous ‘Call’ to the technicians of Billancourt Studios on the first day of shooting, to excite their enthusiasm in face of the enormous task ahead of them…” – DAVID ROBINSON" - A fine print. This film contains in the best viewable form footage from the making-of film Autour de Napoléon (1928), including screen tests for the main roles, and documentation on the many wonderful camera inventions. We see a lot of footage from Gance's notebooks, and we hear vintage Gance sound recordings.

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