|AUSTERLITZ (BATTLE OF
Abel Gance; screenwriter: Nelly Kaplan; cinematographers:
Robert Juillard/Henri Alekan; editor: Yvonne Martin;
music: Jean Ledrut;
cast: Jean Marais (Carnot), Pierre Mondy (Napoleon Bonaparte), Jean Mercure (Talleyrand), Jack Palance (General Weirother), Orson Welles (Robert Fulton), Georges Marchal (Lannes), Rossano Brazzi (Lucien Bonaparte), Vittorio De Sica (Pope Pius Xii), Leslie Caron (Mlle. de Vaudey), Martine Carol (Josephine), Claudia Cardinale (Pauline Bonaparte), Jean-Louis Trintignant (Ségur fils), Ettore Manni (Murat); Runtime: 166; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Alexander Salkind/Michael Salkind; Galatea; 1960-France/Italy/Lichtenstein/Yugoslavia-in French with English subtitles)
by Dennis Schwartz
overlong (even when cut by an hour for its American
release) lavish production in epic scale was written
and directed by silent film genius, the now
70-year-old Abel Gance ("Napoleon"/"Beethoven"/"Blind
Venus"), in his penultimate feature, some thirty years
after his Napoleon masterpiece. It comes with a turgid
story, too much trite chatter and is clumsily
presented. This one is for Gance completists, those
who must see the great artistic filmmaker even when he
lost his talent to entertain and dazzle. It's
watchable if you take pleasure in keeping track of all
the familiar international stars who pop up in small
roles. Unfortunately the war drama never catches fire
and was a bore.
It has a height-conscious shorty, Napoleon (Pierre Mondy), fight the Austro-Russian army in the famous battle of Austerlitz, in 1805, that is considered the future emperor's greatest victory. The battle was recreated by Gance, who seemed more interested in talking war strategy, getting the costumes right and turning his attention to Napoleon's family life and relationship with wife Josephine (Martine Carol) and mistress Mlle. de Vaudey (Leslie Caron) than instilling life into the moribund film.
REVIEWED ON 2/19/2014 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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