Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927)

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Number Forty-Eight
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Re: Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927)

#326 Post by Number Forty-Eight » Mon Mar 01, 2021 5:41 am

They would have to re-record the Davis score isn't it? As the Apollo is a different cut from the ones Davis did his original.

Maybe it could be possible to avoid this by using digital editing to extend parts and edit others, but that's seems like a huge work.

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MichaelB
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Re: Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927)

#327 Post by MichaelB » Mon Mar 01, 2021 6:01 pm

That simply wouldn't work, for all sorts of reasons. Davis would have to personally rework his score from beginning to end, adding a significant amount of additional music along the way. There's pretty much no chance of this new French restoration featuring the Davis score, which means that the BFI Blu-ray retains its importance.

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Number Forty-Eight
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Re: Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927)

#328 Post by Number Forty-Eight » Wed Mar 03, 2021 4:16 am

I think all the past restorations are worth having. For Napoleon, I have them all: The Coppola LD, the original BBC 80's restoration, the Lelouch funded version, the 1934 "sound" version, the 1991 Bambi Ballard Cinematheque version (which has very good editing), and of course the BFI.

I think there might be a chance that both the Davis score and the Coppola score end up being revised for the Apollo version, but that is probably years ahead.

It might be way easier to rework those, than to produce a whole new soundtrack from scratch. All you have to do is conform to the new edit, just like a composer revise his soundtrack from the workprint each time the director fine tune his edit. That's way less work than working out something new from a blank page.

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MichaelB
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Re: Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927)

#329 Post by MichaelB » Wed Mar 03, 2021 9:40 am

It's pretty much unimaginable that Francis Coppola would allow his dad's score to be cut up like that and mixed with the work of other composers, and I suspect Davis wouldn't be too keen either, unless he was directly involved. And musically it would surely be a hideous hodge-podge, as the scores are quite different stylistically. (Granted, Davis's score draws heavily on the existing work of 18th and 19th-century composers, but in a way that's musically coherent.)

Another key issue, of course, is that both of those scores were for the Brownlow restoration (albeit an extended version in Davis's case), and therefore take no account of what I assume is a substantial amount of additional material in the Apollo restoration.

No, it needs a new score, and I'm sure it'll get one.

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Number Forty-Eight
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Re: Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927)

#330 Post by Number Forty-Eight » Wed Mar 03, 2021 1:08 pm

I didn't mean that scores from different composers would get mixed. That would be crazy LOL.

I meant that probably the Carmine Coppola will be reworked to match the Apollo, and that probably the Davis version also will. Separately. Like the different soundtracks each on their own track, not mix and match. Maybe the Coppola will be released in the US, and the Davis in the UK. We'll see.
Another key issue, of course, is that both of those scores were for the Brownlow restoration (albeit an extended version in Davis's case), and therefore take no account of what I assume is a substantial amount of additional material in the Apollo restoration.
I also adressed this the post previous. Getting those compositions reworked to match the Apollo is about the same kind of work required for a composer to match his compositions to the final edit of any film during post-production. It would be way easier than to produce a complete score from scratch. All they will have to do once the compositions are done is re-record the scores, and/or if they are lucky in the edits, use the old scores in parts that match.

My feeling is we will see the Davis score and the Coppola score matched to this. Matched, not mashed-up.

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tenia
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Re: Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927)

#331 Post by tenia » Wed Mar 03, 2021 1:14 pm

The issue is that you can't just "conform" a score that's been composed for a certain silent editing to a new and much longer one. Not only the pace of the movie but also its editing overall is going to be very different but it would require extensive new music to cover for the difference in duration.

It also might be much cheaper to commission, even for such a long movie, a new score simply because the right holding of the Coppola score in France might be awfully expensive to obtain (if possible at all). Not sure about the Davis one though.

So just like they managed to produce a new score for La roue, it's just extremely likely for this new Napoleon restoration to get one, no matter how one wants to twist the Coppola score.

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MichaelB
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Re: Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927)

#332 Post by MichaelB » Wed Mar 03, 2021 3:26 pm

Number Forty-Eight wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 1:08 pm
I didn't mean that scores from different composers would get mixed. That would be crazy LOL.

I meant that probably the Carmine Coppola will be reworked to match the Apollo, and that probably the Davis version also will. Separately. Like the different soundtracks each on their own track, not mix and match. Maybe the Coppola will be released in the US, and the Davis in the UK. We'll see.
The Coppola score runs about half the length of the Apollo cut, and Coppola has been dead for thirty years. But quite aside from the challenge of filling another three hours or so, there's the problem that the Apollo cut plays markedly differently from the Coppola cut in a great many sequences (and indeed has a different framerate, which creates its own tempo-related issues), so music that was designed by its original composer to fit perfectly won't do so any more.

Perhaps if the rights were held by anyone other than the composer's son, such a massive reworking by a different composer might be contractually feasible - but they are, so it almost certainly isn't.

The Davis score would be easier to rework, of course, since Davis is still with us and he's already reworked it once, but it would also be a huge job. I suspect you probably haven't directly compared the music in Brownlow I (the first restoration, premiered in 1979) and Brownlow II (the current one, on the BFI Blu-ray), but I got to know Brownlow I pretty well thanks to endless replays of my Channel 4 off-air recording, and when I saw Brownlow II live circa 2000 I was very struck by just how extensively Davis had to rework his music in order to make it fit while still making the same musical sense. And the Davis music may not even be releasable outside the UK - I think Coppola has a say in this, too.
I also adressed this the post previous. Getting those compositions reworked to match the Apollo is about the same kind of work required for a composer to match his compositions to the final edit of any film during post-production.
Feel free to name a film that underwent such massive changes in post-production that entire scenes were comprehensively reshaped and up to two hours was added to the running time after the composer had delivered his/her initial score. But I think we can all agree that it's certainly not "any film".
It would be way easier than to produce a complete score from scratch. All they will have to do once the compositions are done is re-record the scores, and/or if they are lucky in the edits, use the old scores in parts that match.

My feeling is we will see the Davis score and the Coppola score matched to this. Matched, not mashed-up.
I've already said why I think this is exceptionally unlikely (you might get reworked Davis if he's willing and there are no rights complications, but you're very unlikely to get Coppola), but there's also the crucial factor that neither of these composers is French - and I suspect this will be a significant cultural issue given that Napoléon hasn't been shown with a score by a French composer since the late 1920s.

And this isn't just a French restoration of a great French film, it's a film about French history - so there may well be a strong local opinion that only a wholly French score would be appropriate. Of course, the obvious option would be the original Arthur Honegger score, but I don't believe it survives (although I'd be delighted to be proved wrong).

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Shrew
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Re: Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927)

#333 Post by Shrew » Wed Mar 03, 2021 6:54 pm

Wasn't there that press conference at the CFC back in 2015 where Coppola said that a rearrangement of the Carmine Coppola score would be used for the restoration? Granted, that was to announce that the Napoleon restoration would be done in 2017, so things could have obviously changed and that plan abandoned as impractical. At the very least I imagine there's enough new material where they would need to add new score--but who knows whether that would be reusing parts of Coppola's score from elsewhere, having someone create bits of all new score in the style of Coppola, or just using pre-existing classical pieces in the public domain. But I doubt that anything will be pulled over from Davis's score in any case.

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MichaelB
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Re: Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927)

#334 Post by MichaelB » Thu Mar 04, 2021 3:30 am

No, I think Davis's score is indelibly and indeed legally tied to the Brownlow restoration. I know it's had live performances elsewhere, presumably with Coppola's permission (possibly for practical reasons because the Carmine Coppola score as it currently stands is only suitable for accompanying a much shorter and now seriously out of date version), but the only Blu-ray release of the Brownlow/Davis version has been in the UK, and is likely to stay that way. (Frankly, we're very very lucky that that Blu-ray exists - it took over a decade of legal wrangling before it even became viable.)

But that's very interesting about the press conference - do you have any more info? Google is not being my friend.

As for the challenges, as I said above, it's not just coming up with a lot of new material in Coppola's style (a proper composer would have to be involved; mere editorial cutting and pasting would be painfully obvious and frankly insulting), it's also rewriting the existing score even over the parts that Coppola personally handled thanks to sometimes substantial changes in the timing and rhythm of individual scenes between the Zoetrope and Apollo versions. Obviously, it's possible, but it's a huge job that ultimately won't be that much less arduous than writing a completely new score.

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La Clé du Ciel
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Re: Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927)

#335 Post by La Clé du Ciel » Thu Mar 04, 2021 6:43 am

At the CF event in 2015, Coppola did indeed say he wanted to take any music he could find from his father’s back-catalogue and create a new soundtrack for NAPOLEON. When Paolo Cherchi Usai interviewed Georges Mourier at the Telluride festival in 2015, he asked about the score. Mourier replied:
Worldwide, primarily with the music score of Carmine Coppola. Francis Ford Coppola wants to honor and perpetuate the memory of his father Carmine, who had composed a score for the memorable screenings at Radio City Music Hall in 1981. However, a great work of adaptation will be necessary, as well as respecting certain tunes that Gance had literally noted when he composed his original montage, and that we think we have finally found.
The contrast between the two parties is notable. Coppola’s ambition is “to honor and perpetuate the memory of his father”; Mourier’s ambition is to “respect” Gance’s intentions and pursue historical authenticity. The tension between these two approaches was highlighted in the version of the Marseillaise sequence that Mourier introduced in 2015. Mourier synchronized Coppola’s music for half the scene, then switched to Berlioz’s orchestration of the anthem for the climax of the sequence. The gulf in musical quality between the pieces aside, it revealed the difficulties of trying to digitally stitch old and new recordings together.

Since the CF is persuing a more authentic approach, I hope they (re)consider incorporating Honegger’s music from 1927. To answer MichaelB, extracts of the Honegger score from 1927 do exist. They were arranged and recorded in the late 1980s for CD release on the Marco Polo label. In 1992 they were rearranged and incorporated into the Marius Constant score for the Bambi Ballard/CF restoration (highlights of which were also issued on CD). On the basis of these various recordings, I have always dismissed the possibility of using Honegger’s music as the basis for any score. But experiencing the new restoration of LA ROUE with the reconstructed Fosse/Honegger score was a real revelation for me. Bernd Thewes’ musical (re)creation for LA ROUE shows what remarkable things can be done by creatively engaging with archival material from the 1920s. I’d love to see something similar for NAPOLEON, but this would likely involve more effort than any other approach. Honegger’s 1927 score was assembled (as with LA ROUE) from a mix of original, repertory, and historical music – and (as far as I can tell) only used for the short, Opéra version of the film. The liner notes for the CD release of Honegger’s music suggest that (as of the late 1980s) no-one could locate a full cue sheet; the manuscripts for Honegger’s own music were also of variable quality. The effort involved in reconstructing the 1923 score for LA ROUE took years, and they had a full set of cue sheets. Doing the same for NAPOLEON would involve more work and more creativity.

It is curious that the latest press pieces do not discuss what music will be used for the new restoration of NAPOLEON in France. Even Coppola’s name scarcely appears. (Though in the Le Point piece I did see his collaborator Robert Harris being quoted; how interesting that he is the only person who feels entitled to call Gance “Abel”.) It rather sounds like the issue of the soundtrack has yet to be settled. I note that when (in 2015) Mourier refers to the film’s presentation “worldwide”, he does not necessarily mean either France or the UK. As I understand it, these territories have control over their own respective versions, whatever they may be. I suspect the same situation will apply as has applied for decades: the UK will have the Brownlow/Davis version, France will go its own way (money permitting), and Coppola will do whatever he wants – perhaps even releasing another shortened version of the new restoration to fit his father’s 1981 music.

As MichaelB says, any of the above approaches by any party involved is tantamount to creating an entirely new score.

Calvin
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Re: Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927)

#336 Post by Calvin » Thu Mar 04, 2021 9:16 am


La Clé du Ciel wrote: The contrast between the two parties is notable. Coppola’s ambition is “to honor and perpetuate the memory of his father”; Mourier’s ambition is to “respect” Gance’s intentions and pursue historical authenticity.
There's an unfortunate irony in the fact that Coppola has been happy to obstruct efforts to restore/screen another director's film in order to "honor" his father's score, but was quite happy to take out much of his father's score from his 'Complete Novel Edition' of The Outsiders

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Number Forty-Eight
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Re: Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927)

#337 Post by Number Forty-Eight » Sat Mar 06, 2021 4:34 am

any of the above approaches by any party involved is tantamount to creating an entirely new score.
This will not be as hard as the work required to restore the images. We hadn't heard about the music side yet (apart from Coppola intent at the 2015 press conference) because they are still finishing the restoration reel by reel.

Regarding workprints, many directors in the past made massive changes to their edits and composers had to comply. It's part of the composer work to rework their music to match the final edit. Sometimes the composer leave because they can't stand it, and is replaced. It's the nature of the work. Sure new score will be required due to the longer running time, but if you go by La Roue restoration, it's not impossible to achieve. Working from a pre-existing soundtrack, is way easier than starting over from scratch.

Hopefully, we get a Coppola redux of his father score, a Carl Davis redux of his own, and maybe something unique in France as noted. It's going to be cool as the edit will be definitive, so the scores will make each release (US, UK, FR) stand on it's own. The more the merrier I guess.

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Re: Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927)

#338 Post by MichaelB » Sat Mar 06, 2021 7:30 am

Number Forty-Eight wrote:
Sat Mar 06, 2021 4:34 am
Regarding workprints, many directors in the past made massive changes to their edits and composers had to comply. It's part of the composer work to rework their music to match the final edit. Sometimes the composer leave because they can't stand it, and is replaced. It's the nature of the work. Sure new score will be required due to the longer running time, but if you go by La Roue restoration, it's not impossible to achieve. Working from a pre-existing soundtrack, is way easier than starting over from scratch.
The problem with this conversation all along is that you've been speaking in generalisations, not specifics, and you're continuing to do so here, without any consideration of the highly unusual nature of this particular project. For instance, you airily talk about "massive changes", but how many other situations are you aware of where the final cut is two or more hours longer than the workprint, if we regard the Apollo cut as the final cut and the Coppola/Brownlow cuts as the workprint? Would you not agree that, in the overwhelming majority of other post-production situations, the composer's creative challenge is to shorten the score to fit a tighter edit?
Hopefully, we get a Coppola redux of his father score, a Carl Davis redux of his own, and maybe something unique in France as noted. It's going to be cool as the edit will be definitive, so the scores will make each release (US, UK, FR) stand on it's own. The more the merrier I guess.
I'm willing to bet hard cash that the Apollo version will have just one score attached, whether it's sourced from Coppola, Honegger, or whoever. But if Coppola is involved, I can't see it being Davis, as I'm sure Coppola is fully aware of the fact that the Davis score is more highly regarded than his late father's. (Rightly, of course, but try explaining that to the composer's son!)

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Re: Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927)

#339 Post by robert harris » Fri Mar 26, 2021 10:05 am

La Clé du Ciel wrote:
Thu Mar 04, 2021 6:43 am

It is curious that the latest press pieces do not discuss what music will be used for the new restoration of NAPOLEON in France. Even Coppola’s name scarcely appears. (Though in the Le Point piece I did see his collaborator Robert Harris being quoted; how interesting that he is the only person who feels entitled to call Gance “Abel”.)
I was made aware of this comment, and felt that a response was proper.

Abel Gance is not an amorphous piece of history to me. He was a dear friend. We spent much time together in Telluride, Minneapolis, and New York, in 1979-80, during which we discussed his preferred cuts of versions of his various films, and how to best run Napoleon. He also taught me how to count in French, using sugar packets.

Flying with him from Colorado to New York, I found myself (not a smoker) trying to defend his right to smoke his gauloises, and ended up sent to stand at the rear of the aircraft with him, where he noted that he felt us akin to a pair of skunks in a cartoon, being towed behind an ocean liner. In New York, I took him to see Apocalypse, and visited MOMA with him. My calling him "Abel" is not a matter of disrespect. It was his preference.

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Re: Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927)

#340 Post by Stefan Andersson » Fri Apr 02, 2021 3:31 pm

More French-language info about the Cinémathèque Francaise restoration of Napoleon:
https://www.cnc.fr/cinema/actualites/re ... ce_1429506

Points of interest:
-Chief restorer Georges Mourier took on the restoration job in 2007. Then, the Cinémathèque had approx. 300 boxes of material, 80 % of which had to be re-catalogued correctly.
-The CNC (Centre Nationale de la Cinématographie) had another 300 boxes with relevant material.
-In 2009, it was discovered that the CNC housed yet another 487 boxes of relevant material that was previously unknown, due to an erroneous archive filing code. These 487 boxes had, years earlier, been stored away at the Cinémathèque in Toulouse, France, by a Gance admirer who wanted to save the material from scheduled destruction.
-Mourier is restoring the Apollo version, which ran 9h 40mins when shown in Paris in 1927. After the showing, Gance shortened the film to slightly over 7 hours, added the triptychs and called it his "Grande Version". This version was exported to MGM in 1928 and cut to 1hr 48mins.
-In 2012, an SD version of the "Grande Version" (a work-in-progress apparently) was shown. The idea of a restoration was born, supported by CNC grants toward digitalization of French films.
-2017: restoration work begins (lab: Éclair).
-Physical materials moved to the Cinémathèque premises in Fort Saint-Cyr, a few days before the first COVID-19 curfew.
-Restoration will be finalized in the coming months, to be shown at the end of 2021.
-Mourier is preparing a book and a documentary on the restoration work.

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Re: Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927)

#341 Post by EddieLarkin » Fri Apr 02, 2021 3:43 pm

Are there details anywhere of what exactly these extra 4 hours of material comprise of, vs. the 5.5 hour Brownlow version? Presumably whole sub-plots were excised?

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Number Forty-Eight
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Re: Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927)

#342 Post by Number Forty-Eight » Sat Apr 03, 2021 3:47 am

The 9h40 I'm not sure exists anymore. As we are getting the final cut that is around 7 hours, I suppose it's going to be the same film only edited right. Scenes will vary in running time due to the differences in editing.

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Re: Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927)

#343 Post by robert harris » Mon Apr 05, 2021 11:56 am

Please keep in mind, when discussing any “silent” production, that although one can express running times as hours and minutes, that it’s more accurate because of variable projection speeds, to express in terms of feet or meters.

It can be generalized that Napoleon runs at 18fps (Brienne), and 20fps (the body of the film.)

Run parts at slower speeds, and running time increases exponentially.

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Re: Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927)

#344 Post by MichaelB » Tue Apr 06, 2021 4:29 am

The running-time gap between the first Brownlow restoration and the Coppola version is mostly (though not entirely) explained by framerate differences, with Brownlow being closer to what Gance would have expected.

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Re: Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927)

#345 Post by robert harris » Tue Apr 06, 2021 8:35 am

MichaelB wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 4:29 am
The running-time gap between the first Brownlow restoration and the Coppola version is mostly (though not entirely) explained by framerate differences, with Brownlow being closer to what Gance would have expected.
The difference in footage is approximately 1,350 feet, or 15 minutes. The major deletion was Violine, as suggested by AG.

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