Movie Fan Man: Cinema Connoisseur

Traditional, Artsy, Genre-Within-Genre: A Little Something for Everyone

MFM Quickies #2: The Film That Started My Journey to Region Free Blu Ray

by Tony Nash

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

BFI Napoleon Blu-ray cover image
(from the BFI Shop)

Hello to my Followers, those I’m Following, and all Curious Visitors,

Today I thought I’d share with you the film that jump started me to get a Region Free Blu Ray Player. Ironically, it was Abel Gance’s silent Epic Napoleon, about the early career of the famous/infamous French General and Emperor. Now there were plenty of other films with better quality releases in both the UK and Germany that I really wanted to get as well, so I’m certain everyone reading will be wondering why this one got the kickstart rolling. Well, the answer is actually quite simple: I did an uber amount of reading about the film online.

I first learned about Abel Gance’s Masterpiece when I was a grade school kid. Titanic was all the rage back in 1997, and while I understood the appeal of the film, I couldn’t understand why the film was so long. One time on a ride somewhere I asked my Dad if there were was anything as long, or maybe even longer than the James Cameron classic, and to my youthful surprise he said yes, and began to tell me of this silent film about Napoleon Bonaparte that ran between 7 to 9 hours in length, which was extraordinary to a youthful mind.

Fast forward to about the time I’m graduating high school, getting ready to go to college, and I start looking up old school on the, newly discovered for me at that time, IMDb, one of the many go to places for film buffs, and one of them was Napoleon, which had some cool stuff about it. This reading would go on for intermittent periods until 4 or 5 years ago. As time went by I became more and more curious to actually see the film for myself, but the unfortunate rift between Kevin Brownlow and Francis Ford Coppola over the right of which edit was the superior cut of the film led to the uncertainty of this classic ever seeing the light of day on physical media. Finally Kevin Brownlow announced a Blu Ray would indeed be happening after finally completing the restoration to Gance’s original edit, and his instructions to Brownlow when he began the search for the missing footage.

Unfortunately, the rift caused by Coppola meant Brownlow couldn’t offer the film’s Blu Ray treatment to US audiences in a Region A edition, which left many buffs up the creek. Now, having read so much and picturing in my mind how this film was gonna look, I finally said to myself, ‘the time has finally here to upgrade to Region Free, and with that started the interesting, though not without some frustration early on, about finally getting a player. I’m so happy I took the plunge because this film is beautiful and extraordinary, the closest I think Cinema will get to Van Gogh style art, a very rewarding experience to have been able to watch this in my home.

And that’s another MFM Quickie folks, hope you found this one a nice read.

Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri

2 Responses

  1. Eric Binford says:

    Congrats! I’m dying of envy! [wink] Anyhow, Gance’s Napoleon is indeed a masterpiece. I only had access to a VHS copy, so I’m sure it looks great on Blu-ray.

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