bigshot wrote:I don't have any interaction with the parties on Napoleon, but in my area of interest I've noticed that there is a progression to how a lot of historians work. The start out by trying to champion a little appreciated creator and bring their work to the attention of the public. But as time goes by that sense of altruism fades and transitions to a proprietary sense of ownership. If they don't check themselves and refocus on the reasons why they began work on a project in the first place, they can end up being the biggest obstacle to the recognition of the work they originally sought to champion... by sitting on an egg and refusing to let it hatch until it's the exact way they want it to be hatched.
Almost always, the most problematic historians are not creators themselves. They are the more mechanically minded types. It's rare in fact for a creative artist to want to hoard information for himself alone. Artists know that supporting other artists in their work raises the cultural bar for all creative artists. I would suspect (although I don't know from first hand experience) that if a rivalry exists, it's probably more pronounced in the support people associated with Coppola and Brownlow than it is those in two men themselves.
Excellent points. This can certainly become the case with film restoration. I've noticed this with several Serial Squadron productions, both silent and sound. The lines of restoration get blurred when historians get too close to the creative process and try to second guess the creator's original intent.
In the case of Gance's Napoleon, I don't feel that Brownlow stepped away from his role as historian. Kevin has received consistent praise for his efforts fighting on behalf of Gance's legacy. He even requested and received approval of his efforts from Gance while he was alive. Brownlow's focus and obsession was to see this masterwork restored to it's original length supported by a symphonic score that respected the visual experience. Even in promoting the screenings of Napoleon during it's limited engagement in Oakland back in 2012, Brownlow's billing as film restorer was always respectful of the man who's work he revered.
Ignore the gleeful fellow next to the marque, ...his only connection to Napoleon was as a ticket holder, I assure you.
I'm sure that Francis Ford Coppola's efforts are equally passionate, but his project appears less concerned with the historical significance of Gance's monumental work than establishing a monument for his father's score.
Perhaps my perspective on this is too biased. One cannot know what is in the renowned director's heart. His intentions may be as noble as Kevin Brownlow's. It's just that Mr. Coppola's insistence on incorporating his late father's score into the much longer Apollo version of Napoleon when Carmine's original composition was produced for a much shorter edit doesn't bode well for a harmonious matching of musical visions. We'll see.