Gance’s Napoléon Revolutionizes Filmmaking Techniques (Great Events from History II: Arts and Culture Series)
Article abstract: Filmmaker Abel Gance revolutionized the epic motion picture and expanded the horizons of world cinema by employing new techniques for his innovative treatment of the French national hero Napoleon Bonaparte.
Summary of Event
By the early 1920’s, Abel Gance had made twenty-three films, including J’Accuse! (1919) and La Roue (1923), and had established himself as France’s most innovative avant-garde filmmaker, particularly in his rapid editing technique and camera movement in the melodrama La Roue. By 1923, he had started the screenplay for his monumental French epic Napoléon, a project that would take four years to complete. Gance completed the script in 1925, originally intending to make six massive films to capture the epic sweep of the emperor’s life. Each film was intended to run about ninety minutes, but in June, 1925, Gance’s major financier for the series withdrew his support. Eventually, Gance found new backers, but they were willing to fund only the first film of the series, which Gance then expanded to include as much of the original project as possible.
What Gance produced became a monument of the silent cinema and surely one of the most impressive and innovative biographical features ever made. The completed version, which premiered at the Paris Opera House on April 7, 1927, was epic in scope and length and traced Napoleon’s life...
(The entire section is 2622 words.)
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