Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

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Big Silent Fan

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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostSat Dec 24, 2016 10:55 am

Claus Harding wrote:
A big "congratulations" is due Kevin Brownlow; getting the funding and agreements in place to have this released on BR in 2016 is the crowning touch to all his efforts on Gance's behalf.


Yes, how fortunate we have been to benefit from Kevin Brownlow's film history efforts. For "Napoleon," and also for the many films he's helped us to discover over the years.

We are fortunate too that many in the industry, film restorers and musicians for example visit this Nitrateville and share with us.

Merry Christmas to all.
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bigshot

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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostSat Dec 24, 2016 12:59 pm

I now have something rarer than Gold, Frankencense and Myhrr... an absolutely undamaged case for Napoleon. When mine arrived from Amazon it was squashed flat like a bug, and I would have put up with that, but the booklet in the set had a run of pages bound in upside down. Amazon wouldn't do an exchange for me, so I emailed BFI and they said they would send me out new packaging, which they did. Very happy now.
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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostSat Dec 24, 2016 1:56 pm

bigshot wrote:I now have something rarer than Gold, Frankencense and Myhrr... an absolutely undamaged case for Napoleon. When mine arrived from Amazon it was squashed flat like a bug, and I would have put up with that, but the booklet in the set had a run of pages bound in upside down. Amazon wouldn't do an exchange for me, so I emailed BFI and they said they would send me out new packaging, which they did. Very happy now.


Wow! By new packaging do you mean the "new" packaging or the old packaging better packaged?

If I'd known this was possible I probably would've contacted BFI directly rather than reordering the set through Amazon. Of course my undelivered copy was properly refunded so I reordered, but no option for the original packaging is now available outside the collector's market. I'll be receiving the new, sturdier packaging from Amazon, properly tracked this time (I'm grateful for this and the continued availability of this title), but the fanatical collector in me would've liked having the original design and book (with pages right side up).
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Claus Harding

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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostSat Dec 24, 2016 4:46 pm

The outer sleeve on that first set is not very sturdy or glamorous (who had the brilliant idea of putting the seam of the wraparound on the front, with tape, no less....?) Ah, well, I may get a separate Amaray case just for my own peace of mind regarding the discs in the cardboard holders.

The essentials are ok, the book is printed right side up and the discs play well, so I won't complain any further.

Claus.
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bigshot

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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostSat Dec 24, 2016 5:08 pm

Wow! By new packaging do you mean the "new" packaging or the old packaging better packaged?


They sent me the limited edition packaging to replace mine. I figured it was worth a try emailing BFI when Amazon couldn't do anything. I offered to pay postage, but they said they would send it out to me for free. They only had a few extra covers and they apparently were hearing from other people whose sets were crushed. They went fast.
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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostSun Dec 25, 2016 8:48 am

My little traveler braved the overseas passage well, only a crease on the top of the box would show that it was not ideally shipped. I wonder, was the glue machine broken the day the packaging was made or were the boxes hand taped as a labor of love :P
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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostSun Dec 25, 2016 9:32 am

For those who have received the booklet with the film, I call your attention to the "Proclamation," an appeal that Gance made to his entire cast and crew. From this heartfelt appeal:

"Thanks to you, we are going to revive the Revolution and the Empire. This is unprerecedented.
You must find within you the passion, frenzy, strength, skill and selflessness...I want to sense a powerful swell which will overcome any barriers erected by the critics, so much so that , from afar, I will no longer be able to tell the difference between your heart and your red caps.
Fast, furious, turmultuous, monumental, bold and Homeric, with pauses which make the silences all the more devastating: that is what the Revolution wants you to be , like a bolting horse...
My friends, all the world's screens are waiting.
Of all of you, whatever your role - lead actors, those playing secondary roles, cameramen, painters, electricians, grips and especially you, humble extras, who bear the heavy burden of conjuring up the spirit of your ancestors and joining forces to convey the formidable face of France between 1792 and 1815 -- I demand that you set aside any petty personal consideration and show total dedication. Only then can you reverently serve the already illustrious cause of the finest art of the future throught the most marvelous lesson from the Past."

"It is for the audience to tell us whether we have achieved our goal." ---Abel Gance

End Quote.

I think everyone was faithful to this request and truly brought the story to life.
Norma Desmond's "We had faces then" comes to mind each time I watch this favorite of mine. Focus on anyone and you'll see the dedication in their face.
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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostSun Dec 25, 2016 12:33 pm

A while ago I talked to someone who was lucky enough to see NAPOLEON with Abel Gance present in Paris in the mid-sixties. It must have been a presentation of the 1965 Cinematheque Francaise restoration. According to this person Gance fell asleep halfway through the film.
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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostSun Dec 25, 2016 2:03 pm

Arndt wrote:... . According to this person Gance fell asleep halfway through the film.


One should always follow what the director intended!

:D
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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostSun Dec 25, 2016 3:42 pm

The Carl Davis music for the film is also available separately, either to download or a 2 disc CD:

https://www.amazon.com/Napoléon-2016-Soundtrack-Recording-Davis/dp/B01M5GLDXA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482701401&sr=8-1&keywords=napoleon+philharmonia

2 and 1/2 hours total, or you can buy/download individual tracks.

Rick
“The past is never dead. It's not even past” - Faulkner.
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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostSun Dec 25, 2016 8:54 pm

Donald Binks wrote:
Arndt wrote:... . According to this person Gance fell asleep halfway through the film.


One should always follow what the director intended!

:D


Looks as though I'm following in the director's footsteps. :wink: There's something about watching something you've seen many times before.
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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostWed Dec 28, 2016 1:05 am

If anyone wanted to playback the tryptch setup in their home, the BFI made it easy for you. Not only is each reel on a separate disc, but the image of the left and right panels is offset within the 1920x1080 frame. See here for an example : https://goo.gl/photos/gn2iJ2DUomnZ599C8

The only thing you need to worry about is the windowboxing on the middle panel. With TV screens, you can overlap the left and right screens over the windowboxed areas of the middle screen. With projector screens, you will need to mask that portion of the image as it is displayed through the projector lens.

With a ripping program, it is even easier to do because you would not need three Region 2/4/B or Region Free drives.
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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostWed Dec 28, 2016 8:39 am

A separate disc for each panel was an option I wish they had made available for the Cinerama
movies.
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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostWed Dec 28, 2016 11:27 am

I have updated the album linked in my last post to show how BFI put together the tryptch for viewing on a single disc, it is has letterboxing. I also made my own image using the three panels, cropped to remove the pillarboxing, and it is essentially identical to how the BFI did it.

Cinerama is a more difficult beast to tackle than Napoleon's Polyvision. Cinerama's side panels are intended to blend in with the main panel. I know that early Blu-ray releases would come with a dual flat and curved version of the film. You can edit the flat version to get a reasonable fascimile of the three separate panels.
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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostFri Dec 30, 2016 1:16 am

I watched the first couple of hours tonight. Wonderful restoration, and the sound is spectacular on my 5.1 system. I've never heard an orchestra better recorded. In fact, at one point a triangle was struck way down in the mix and my dog snapped to attention. Apparently the soundtrack includes super audible frequencies. It would get a thumbs up from my dog if she had thumbs.
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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostSat Jan 07, 2017 5:56 pm

http://www.cinematheque.fr/article/662.html

I don't know if this link has been posted but it goes into detail
about the Cinematheque Francaise's Napoleon materials:

"A. Example I : Scene known as « Les Ombres de la Convention » (« The Ghosts of the Convention »)

When Bonaparte comes to meditate in the deserted chambers of the Convention before leaving for Italy and the ghosts of the Revolution appear and speak to him, the Opera Version and the Apollo Version diverge.

In the Opera Version they appear superimposed on a static shot of the Assembly.

In the Apollo Version, the ghosts appear to Bonaparte via dolly shots while asking their question.

In the Opera Version, the lack of movement creates a confrontation. In the Apollo Version, the mobility of the ghosts literally « wraps » Bonaparte in the heritage of the Revolution."
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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostSun Jan 08, 2017 3:53 pm

syd wrote:http://www.cinematheque.fr/article/662.html" target="_blank

I don't know if this link has been posted but it goes into detail
about the Cinematheque Francaise's Napoleon materials:

"A. Example I : Scene known as « Les Ombres de la Convention » (« The Ghosts of the Convention »)

When Bonaparte comes to meditate in the deserted chambers of the Convention before leaving for Italy and the ghosts of the Revolution appear and speak to him, the Opera Version and the Apollo Version diverge.

In the Opera Version they appear superimposed on a static shot of the Assembly.

In the Apollo Version, the ghosts appear to Bonaparte via dolly shots while asking their question.

In the Opera Version, the lack of movement creates a confrontation. In the Apollo Version, the mobility of the ghosts literally « wraps » Bonaparte in the heritage of the Revolution."


I'm glad that more footage has been "found" for inclusion in another restoration, but disappointed that the recovered footage wasn't made available to Kevin Brownlow by the discoverers. AFAIC, Kevin Brownlow is the restorer of record and without his efforts Gance's film would've likely remained a historical footnote. Carl Davis is also due credit for the Herculeon task of composing and conducting a score to match this great film's 5 1/2 hour reconstruction.

I have the greatest respect for Francis Ford Coppola and the efforts he's made to bring his father's score to the screen as a tribute, but the manner in which this extended version's score will have to be cobbled together in order to include the fragmented Coppola score with the promise of even greater length troubles me. Hopefully the Apollo version won't turn into the appalling version.

While I'll undoubtably buy the Coppola version as a person who supports and encourages all silent film restoration, I'm concerned over the rationale for competing legacies. It's like watching two dogs fighting over a bone, the bone being Gance's masterwork, the bigger dog having less interest in the bone than demonstrating that the smaller, hungrier dog who found the bone and treasures his discovery has no claim on it.

It just seems a little weird ...and a bit ironic in the 21st century... to watch the Napoleonic Wars being fought between patriots from the UK and US with France sitting on the sidelines. If delegitimizing Kevin Brownlow's legacy and life-long pursuit of this restoration is the intent, shame on those who are behind it. I hope that this post will be taken in the spirit given as I have no desire to denigrate anyone's creative efforts, but my opinions on this haven't changed. I'm still concerned that the rivalries between Brownlow and Coppola camps won't serve the silent film community well. If there are other viewpoints or observations, please feel free to share them.
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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostSun Jan 08, 2017 3:58 pm

I agree. Considering what a small pond the silent and classic film world is these days, it is surprising how even here petty rivalries can muddy the water.
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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostMon Jan 09, 2017 12:25 pm

I don't have any interaction with the parties on Napoleon, but in my area of interest I've noticed that there is a progression to how a lot of historians work. The start out by trying to champion a little appreciated creator and bring their work to the attention of the public. But as time goes by that sense of altruism fades and transitions to a proprietary sense of ownership. If they don't check themselves and refocus on the reasons why they began work on a project in the first place, they can end up being the biggest obstacle to the recognition of the work they originally sought to champion... by sitting on an egg and refusing to let it hatch until it's the exact way they want it to be hatched.

Almost always, the most problematic historians are not creators themselves. They are the more mechanically minded types. It's rare in fact for a creative artist to want to hoard information for himself alone. Artists know that supporting other artists in their work raises the cultural bar for all creative artists. I would suspect (although I don't know from first hand experience) that if a rivalry exists, it's probably more pronounced in the support people associated with Coppola and Brownlow than it is those in two men themselves.
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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostMon Jan 09, 2017 1:39 pm

bigshot wrote:as time goes by that sense of altruism fades and transitions to a proprietary sense of ownership.


My precious!
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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostMon Jan 09, 2017 2:04 pm

bigshot wrote:if a rivalry exists, it's probably more pronounced in the support people associated with Coppola and Brownlow than it is those in two men themselves.


...Or their lawyers.

Still, to me it seems the FFC 'side' is as interested in preserving Carmine's legacy as it is in Abel's. If not more so.
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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostMon Jan 09, 2017 2:13 pm

bigshot wrote:I don't have any interaction with the parties on Napoleon, but in my area of interest I've noticed that there is a progression to how a lot of historians work. The start out by trying to champion a little appreciated creator and bring their work to the attention of the public. But as time goes by that sense of altruism fades and transitions to a proprietary sense of ownership. If they don't check themselves and refocus on the reasons why they began work on a project in the first place, they can end up being the biggest obstacle to the recognition of the work they originally sought to champion... by sitting on an egg and refusing to let it hatch until it's the exact way they want it to be hatched.

Almost always, the most problematic historians are not creators themselves. They are the more mechanically minded types. It's rare in fact for a creative artist to want to hoard information for himself alone. Artists know that supporting other artists in their work raises the cultural bar for all creative artists. I would suspect (although I don't know from first hand experience) that if a rivalry exists, it's probably more pronounced in the support people associated with Coppola and Brownlow than it is those in two men themselves.



Excellent points. This can certainly become the case with film restoration. I've noticed this with several Serial Squadron productions, both silent and sound. The lines of restoration get blurred when historians get too close to the creative process and try to second guess the creator's original intent.

In the case of Gance's Napoleon, I don't feel that Brownlow stepped away from his role as historian. Kevin has received consistent praise for his efforts fighting on behalf of Gance's legacy. He even requested and received approval of his efforts from Gance while he was alive. Brownlow's focus and obsession was to see this masterwork restored to it's original length supported by a symphonic score that respected the visual experience. Even in promoting the screenings of Napoleon during it's limited engagement in Oakland back in 2012, Brownlow's billing as film restorer was always respectful of the man who's work he revered.

Image

Ignore the gleeful fellow next to the marque, ...his only connection to Napoleon was as a ticket holder, I assure you. :lol:


I'm sure that Francis Ford Coppola's efforts are equally passionate, but his project appears less concerned with the historical significance of Gance's monumental work than establishing a monument for his father's score.

Perhaps my perspective on this is too biased. One cannot know what is in the renowned director's heart. His intentions may be as noble as Kevin Brownlow's. It's just that Mr. Coppola's insistence on incorporating his late father's score into the much longer Apollo version of Napoleon when Carmine's original composition was produced for a much shorter edit doesn't bode well for a harmonious matching of musical visions. We'll see.
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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostTue Jan 10, 2017 6:08 am

R. Cat wrote:
I'm sure that Francis Ford Coppola's efforts are equally passionate, but his project appears less concerned with the historical significance of Gance's monumental work than establishing a monument for his father's score.

Perhaps my perspective on this is too biased. One cannot know what is in the renowned director's heart. His intentions may be as noble as Kevin Brownlow's. It's just that Mr. Coppola's insistence on incorporating his late father's score into the much longer Apollo version of Napoleon when Carmine's original composition was produced for a much shorter edit doesn't bode well for a harmonious matching of musical visions. We'll see.


Agree absolutely. And Coppolla's Radio City edit score wasn't just to a shorter film....it was written for a film playing at a 20% faster frame rate than is considered optimal.......24fps rather than 18 or 20fps. That's a hell of an issue....
I could use some digital restoration myself...
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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostTue Jan 10, 2017 8:06 am

Penfold wrote:
R. Cat wrote:
I'm sure that Francis Ford Coppola's efforts are equally passionate, but his project appears less concerned with the historical significance of Gance's monumental work than establishing a monument for his father's score.

Perhaps my perspective on this is too biased. One cannot know what is in the renowned director's heart. His intentions may be as noble as Kevin Brownlow's. It's just that Mr. Coppola's insistence on incorporating his late father's score into the much longer Apollo version of Napoleon when Carmine's original composition was produced for a much shorter edit doesn't bode well for a harmonious matching of musical visions. We'll see.


Agree absolutely. And Coppolla's Radio City edit score wasn't just to a shorter film....it was written for a film playing at a 20% faster frame rate than is considered optimal.......24fps rather than 18 or 20fps. That's a hell of an issue....



Why can't they hire a composer to do an interpolation of the Coppola score to fit the extra length and different frame rate? That way, Carmine would still be the original composer, and his legacy would be preserved.
Last edited by Mitch Farish on Tue Jan 10, 2017 5:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostTue Jan 10, 2017 9:50 am

>And Coppolla's Radio City edit score wasn't just to a shorter film....it was written for a film playing at a 20% faster frame rate than is considered optimal.......24fps rather than 18 or 20fps. That's a hell of an issue....<

And yet, Gance is on the record saying, when he was prepping his own Sound re-do of this film, "I am glad I filmed it originally at 24fps!"

(I was there at the Radio City "Opening" Night; what a memory...)
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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostTue Jan 10, 2017 2:12 pm

Why can't they hire a composer to do an interpolation the Coppola score to fit the extra length and different frame rate? That way, Carmine would still be the original composer, and his legacy would be preserved.


I assume they will do pretty much exactly that. I think it's more common than we may realize that existing scores are retrofitted to slightly different prints, and it's movie music, it just flows right by without us noticing that something has been repeated, or extended upon, or whatever.
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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostWed Jan 11, 2017 7:02 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:
Why can't they hire a composer to do an interpolation the Coppola score to fit the extra length and different frame rate? That way, Carmine would still be the original composer, and his legacy would be preserved.


I assume they will do pretty much exactly that. I think it's more common than we may realize that existing scores are retrofitted to slightly different prints, and it's movie music, it just flows right by without us noticing that something has been repeated, or extended upon, or whatever.


Finally received the BFI Brownlow restoration of Gance's Napoleon with Carl Davis score yesterday. (Place excitement emoticon here!) Very happy indeed, but must admit that my patience was threadbare. ...Fingers crossed that your reorder arrives promptly and unscathed.

Mike, I agree that some scores that reuse music "flow right by without us noticing that something has been repeated" although it's unknown whether this will be the approach taken by those involved in the Apollo restoration. I've read some conflicting things about the scoring of incidental music for the Coppola supported version, so I'm looking forward to the eventual DVDBeaver review and comparisons.

Music composed or procured for specific scenes can occasionally be reused in scenes of similar length and emotional content, but a piece of music shoehorned into the wrong place will stand out like a sore thumb. I'm convinced that there's a special art to producing emotionally involving music that doesn't draw too much attention to itself.
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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostTue Jan 17, 2017 2:26 pm

It's the second try, which means the plastic box version with shorter book, but...

Image

FINALLY!
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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostTue Jan 17, 2017 11:01 pm

I have a spare copy of the first edition packaging and book (the package is slightly crushed and the book has some pages bound in upside down). If you would like them, I would be happy to send them to you to thank you for this great forum.
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Re: Kevin Brownlow's Napoleon

PostTue Jan 17, 2017 11:05 pm

That's very kind of you, but it's fine. I read Brownlow's book years ago after I saw the touring show with Carmine Coppola, I've probably got all the info I need. Just glad to have the film, trying to figure out when I can devote the 5 hours to it.
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