Monday, March 19, 2012

'Napoleon' Conquers 
Oakland's Paramount Theater

Back in the day, I saw Abel Gance's "Napoleon" presented at Radio City Music Hall three times when I worked for the publicist Renee Furst who was promoting the extravaganza engagement with Francis Ford Coppola's backing and flair for hoopla. Those screenings rank high on my list of cherished cinematic pleasures pursued over a lifetime.

I'm still in awe of the grandeur of "Napoleon" in its entirety and the final section when it expands to three synchronized screens and almost overwhelms the eyes.

The daring folks behind the San Francisco Silent Film Festival are the lead partners with Photoplay Productions, the British Film Institute, American Zoetrope and the Film Preserve Limited in a truly once-in-a-generation opportunity to see this monument of cinema in Oakland over the next two weekends at the Paramount Theater.

What will be shown is the fullest version of "Napoleon" with newly-discovered footage and the existing footage restored to all its glory.

Film historian Kevin Brownlow, who received an honorary Academy Award for his heroic efforts restoring "Napoleon", is overseeing the four screenings on March 24, 25, 31 and April 1. Have a look at the thrilling trailer for these screenings:

Brownlow will be at the Pacific Film Archive on March 30 for a reception, book signing and lecture about the restoration, with Judith Rosenberg providing piano accompaniment to the film excerpts. Go here for more info on the PFA event.

According to the Silent Film Festival, the showings start at 1:30 pm, and there will be two 20-minute breaks in addition to a dinner break of 1-hour and 45-minutes, and the film lets out around 9:45 pm.

Click here for more info on tickets and how to get to the Paramount Theater. Wise movie-lovers know not to miss this rare chance to see "Napoleon" in a fabulous Art Deco theater, with live orchestra accompaniment and a screen area big enough to accommodate the three-screen Polyvision finale.

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