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2012 Academy Member Kevin Brownlow (UK)

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Bill Lawrence, Halifax, UK 29. April 2012
Kevin Brownlow with his latest honor. Image by Thomas Hauerslev

Kevin Brownlow is a man of extraordinary knowledge of the history of cinema. Not only a researcher, but great explainer through seminal documentaries and books on the golden days of the industry. But to the widescreen world he holds a special place for his championing of the work and vision of Abel Gance.

At an early age, he developed his passion for cinema and by the age of eleven, he had started to collect film and three years later he was filming with a 9.5mm camera. Among the many films he collected was a 9.5mm two reel clip of Gance’s "Napoleon" a film that was believed to be lost. He became fascinated by it. Over the years, he collected all he could find eventually was able to reconstruct a version of 4 hrs 50 mins. This extraordinary work of reconstruction gave the world of view of silent cinema that was amazing in its scope and vision. As it reaches its pinnacle, Gance introduces two extra panels to create a triptych that starts as three separate images and blends into and early Cinerama style image to convey the epic scale of battle.
Further in 70mm reading:

Widescreen Weekend 2012

Kevin Brownlow Interview

“Napoleon in San Francisco”

Gallery highlights:

Academy of the Widescreen Weekend

Widescreen Weekend home

Internet link:

Kevin Brownlow giving his lecture: “From Biograph to Fox Grandeur. Early Experiments in Large Format Presentations”. Image by Thomas Hauerslev

This alone with establish Kevin Brownlow in the hearts of fans of cinema, but his fascinating television series, The Hollywood Pioneers, rescued silent cinema and its stars and directors for a new generation and stimulated a resurgence of interest in so-called silent cinema that has run persistently to the present day. Equally his seminal work on early cinema considerable The Parade's Gone By... (1968) remains a classic.

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Updated 21-01-24