“Napoleon,” the 1927 silent masterpiece by Abel Gance, plays later this month at the Paramount Theater in Oakland, California. The schedule includes showings on March 24, March 25, March 31 and April 1. The Oakland East Bay Symphony will play a new score by Carl Davis to accompany the film. The new restoration, done by Kevin Brownlow, is a major event on the silent movie calendar and should not be missed. It runs 5.5 hours with 2 intermissions and a dinner break.
Brownlow did an earlier restoration of Napoleon that toured cities of the United States in the early 1980’s. I remember seeing the first restoration at a theater in Phoenix, Arizona. It was unusual to see a silent film on the big screen in those days, so it really felt like a special event to me. Brownlow’s obsession with Napoleon and his restorations of other silent films helped him win an Oscar in 2010.
Although Brownlow completed the present restoration of Napoleon in 2000, it has not been shown in the United States and will not tour to other cities besides Oakland. The Paramount, a beautiful art deco theater built in 1931, is a magnificent venue for silent films.