Since starting his own film collection at the age of 11, Kevin Brownlow has always worked in the cinema, either as a filmmaker, or cinema historian. He was supervising editor on Tony Richardson's The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968). With Andrew Mollo, he directed two feature films, It Happened Here (1964), released by United Artists, about an imaginary German occupation of England, and Winstanley (1975), made for the British Film Institute and set in the aftermath of the English Civil War.
In 1980, with David Gill, Brownlow produced and directed a 13 part television series, Hollywood, based on Brownlow's book The Parade's Gone By. The series stimulated so much enthusiasm that Brownlow's reconstruction of Napoleon was shown as part of the 1980 London Film Festival. The five-hour Abel Gance epic was accompanied by a full orchestra playing a specially commissioned score composed and conducted by Carl Davis. The outstanding success of the event demonstrated to a modern audience the power and excitement of silent filmmaking, long dismissed as primitive and inaccessible. Napoleon continues to be shown around the world.
In 1990 Brownlow and Gill formed their own company, Photoplay Productions, to continue their work. In 1992, Channel Four Television agreed to support silent film revivals under the name of Channel Four Silents with a restoration of the Rudolph Valentino classic The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The restorations continued with Wings, The Iron Horse, Sunrise and The Phantom of the Opera. Brownlow also produced the original documentary Universal Horror for Turner Classic Movies.
Producer: Hugh Hefner, Patrick Stanbury
Director: Kevin Brownlow
Editing: Christopher Bird, Kevin Brownlow
Music: Carl Davis, Nic Raine
Narrator: Kenneth Branagh
Appearances by Forrest J. Ackerman, Michael F. Blake, Ray Bradbury, Sara Karloff, Budd Schulberg, Jackie Coogan, Lon Chaney, Jr.
C-86m. Closed captioning.