Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 335: Sat Nov 30

No1 Napoleon (Gance, 1924): Royal Festival Hall, 1.30pm - 9.30pm


The capital's cinematic event of the year? There will have been few better when 2013 draws to a close that's for sure. Here is the Royal Festival Hall's introduction to this special screening of Abel Gance's silent masterpiece:

The performance of the film, accompanied by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, which ends at approx. 9.30pm includes 2 intervals plus a 100 minute interval at approx. 5pm
Carl Davis' epic score for the 1927 silent film Napoléon, directed by Abel Gance, is not only the longest ever composed, but is also widely celebrated as one of the finest.
This afternoon, music and film lovers are given a rare opportunity to experience one of the greatest achievements in cinema history, a seamless blend of epic film and Davis' own unique creative genius.
Time Out review:
Bambi Ballard's latest restoration of cinema's supreme, grandiloquent epic (63 mins longer than the version premiered by Kevin Brownlow in 1979, tinted and with an extended three-screen climax) is the closest we're ever likely to get to Gance's original. Despite its simplistic view of Napoleon himself - seen from childhood to the fascistic start of his empire-building as a 'man of destiny', guided through hardships and loneliness by his 'inner eagle' - the film is completely vindicated by Gance's raving enthusiasm for his medium. All of the brilliant experiments with film language remain potent, from the montages of flash-frames to the bombastic poetry of the triptych finale; even the gags are still funny. The many highpoints include the hour-long siege of Toulon in torrential rain, won by strategies prefigured in the opening snowball fight, and Gance's own patrician performance as the cold-blooded Saint-Just. To see this with Carl Davis' score (lashings of Beethoven) played live is an almost unimaginably thrilling experience.

Tony Rayns
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and if you can't get tickets for the above . . .

No 2 Pop Goes the Easel (Russell, 1962) + British Sounds (Godard, 1969), Barbican Cinema, 8.45pm


A fascinating double-bill which is part of the Images of Desire season to complement the Pop Art season at the Barbica. Details here.

Here is the Barbican introduction: 

Pop Goes the Easel

Directed by the late Ken Russell, this stylish mini-documentary focuses on artists Peter Blake, Peter Phillips, Derek Boshier and Pauline Boty and their obsession with the mass media and pop culture. Originally produced for the BBC TV series Monitor, at a time when the celebrity-aesthetic was still considered cutting-edge, Russell’s vibrant barrage of images and sounds was greeted with widespread controversy.

UK 1962 Dir Ken Russell 44 min

+ British Sounds (15)
Commissioned in 1968 by London Weekend Television, Jean Luc-Godard's exploration into Ford workers at Dagenham and students at Essex University was seen as too radical and never transmitted. A provocative, controversial, revolutionary tract.

UK 1969 Dir Jean-Luc Godard 52 min

You can see extracts from British Sounds here.

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