French-made super-production by Abel Gance, dealing with the earlier life of Napoleon Bonaparte, particularly episodes of the French Revolution, was released at the Paris Opera as a special gala in favor of local charitable organizations assisting war victims.
The scenario deals with historical facts in the life of the future emperor up to the war in Italy, before he even became First Consul. The picture does not include the period when the hero was known to history as Napoleon I.
The Opera showing was a triumph and there is every sign of Napoleon being a universal success. The triple screen, whereby (in certain portions of the picture for war scenes) the screen is increased to thrice the ordinary size caused a sensation for the lay public. The extended vision is obtained by projecting three reels from separate lanterns on three screens, the pictures synchronizing.
Details of the execution were given out for press use, wherein we are told the French government provided 5,000 troops, as supers, for the episode depicting the siege of Toulon, and the rallying of the famous army in Italy. Rock salt estimated at over a ton was used to imitate hail and half a ton of boric acid as snow. Though no deaths were to be deplored during the making of the picture, in which thousands manoeuvered with fire arms, many accidents occurred, 220 claims having since been filed with the insurance companies.
The rain during the siege of Toulon is somewhat exaggerated, but the scenes during the Revolution are particularly impressing.
Albert Dieudonne in the title role is excellent. A special score by Arthur Honegger, of the new school of music grade, accompanies.
It is a splendid achievement but still needs careful pruning. [Pic was initially shown in the US in a 70-min. version in 1929, released by M-G-M.]