A film with a Napoleonic level of ambition which, like its subject, ultimately - on DVD at least - fails.
It pains me to not to feel able to give a DVD of this historically interesting film an absolute rave review, but the truth is, it was as grandly disappointing as it was heroically ambitious. I spent years reading about and getting excited by the prospect of seeing Abel Gance's Napoleon, and nearly spent a small fortune travelling to Holland a few years back to see it on the big screen(s), having consistently only found out about the rare performances in the UK after they'd been and gone. Having watched it - admittedly only partially thus far - on this DVD, I'm kind of glad I didn't make the trip.
But if the film is just too difficult to watch - some parts are watchable enough, if rather quaintly dated, like the snowball fight at Brienne - due to multiple images and constant fast-cutting (modern pop videos didn't invent such techniques!), and the like, then it fails in a way that reminds me of the headache-inducing effects of William Burroughs most experimental 'cut-up' writings.
I am determined that to watch the whole film through, at some point. And perhaps if I manage that I'll amend the two-star rating I gave it over at Amazon UK. But for now, both that review and this one are a testimony to my disappointment. I won't be at all surprised if there are many fans of this film who strongly disagree with me, but I can only speak for myself.