The first widescreen movie and – upon its re-issue in 1935 – the first film to feature stereo sound.  Gance had previously employed split-screen effects in J’Accuse (1919), and his rapid cutting in La Roue (1923) may have influenced Eisenstein’s montage style, with that film also being the first to end on a freeze-frame.

Whilst the widescreen effect was the obvious chief innovation featured in Napoleon, Gance also employed in the film an astonishing range of camerawork, at times literally throwing the camera around.  On separate occasions it was attached to a guillotine blade, a galloping horse, a swinging pendulum, and a football (simulating a snowball or cannonball in flight).

Gance said, “For me the cinema is not just pictures; it is something great, mysterious and sublime, for which one should not spare any effort and for which one should risk one’s own life if the need arises.”!

The film's place in cinema history:
  Assessment from the Film Guide   Other notes by Leslie Halliwell   Quotes from the film   Information on the making of the film    
Year: 1927
Studio: WESTI
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