<script async src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js"></script> <!-- Showbiz Portal Bottom 1 300x250, created 10/15/10 --> <ins class="adsbygoogle" style="display:inline-block;width:300px;height:250px" data-ad-client="ca-pub-1272644781333770" data-ad-slot="2530175011"></ins> <script> (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); </script>
Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Dec 9, 2023



WE’VE SEEN many films about the self-proclaimed French emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte. 

The first one we remember is “Desiree”, with Marlon Brando as Napoleon in a romance with a woman named Desiree who’d become the Queen of Sweden.

Then there’s “Waterloo” with Rod Steiger as Napoleon in the famous battle that heralded the end of his career. 

Napoleon likewise shows up in “War and Peace”, the series based on Leo Tolstoy’s novel which is about the Napoleonic Wars in Russia. 

Woody Allen also made a comical depiction of Napoleon in “Love and Death”.

He was also treated hilariously by such fantasy comedies as “Time Bandits” and “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” starring Keanu Reeves.

Ridley Scott, one of the most prolific filmmakers of all time, already an octogenarian but still actively directing movies, now comes up with his own full length take in “Napoleon”, with “Joker” Oscar winner Joaquin Phoenix playing the title role.

In the film, we first see Napoleon as a young captain present at the beheading of Marie Antoinette at the Place de la Concorde in 1793. 

His story ends with his death in 1821. 

In between, the movie focuses on his rise and fall as a great military conqueror and on his tempestuous love affair with his first wife, Josephine, played by Vanessa Kirby. 

We see his first victory at the Battle of Toulon where he successfully defeated the British.

After the revolution, we see the Reign of Terror and Napoleon joins other French leaders to restore stability.

He then succeeds in fighting the royalist rebels in Paris who attacked the National Convention. 

1,4OO rebels died in the artillery fire instituted by Napoleon.

Other leaders led by Talleyrand try to depose him but he stages a coup against them and becomes France’s first consul. 

He later declares himself as emperor in 

1804, with he himself putting the crown on his own head.

He’d later defeat the Austrians and the Russians. 

In 1812, he invades Russia and this is immortalized by Tchaikovsky in his internationally famous concert overture complete with cannons exploding, and also by Tolstoy in the mammoth literary classic “War and Peace”. 

Napoleon would set Moscow in flames but he didn’t anticipate the bitter Russian winter that killed about half a million of his men, the same predicament encountered by the Nazis in World War II.

Napoleon was forced by a coalition to abdicate and he was exiled to Elba, from where he escapes and tries to return to power.

He ultimately loses in Waterloo to the Duke of Wellington and is exiled at Saint Helena, an island in the Atlantic Ocean where he wrote his memoirs that later became a bestseller. 

It is estimated that more than 3 million people died during the Napoleonic wars.

About his romance with Josephine, she’s already a widow when he is fascinated by her. 

They marry but would have no children. His mom gives him a mistress, who gets pregnant, to show that it’s Josephine who is barren.   

But Josephine seems to have a very strong hold on Napoleon. 

He was in Egypt when he learned that she has a much younger lover. He rushes back home and initially throws her out, but eventually forgives her and takes her back. 

Josephine tells him: “You are nothing without me”. And he easily concurs.

He later divorces her and even slaps her in public, but it’s obvious she’s his one true love as they remain cordial and friendly to each other. 

When he learns that she is sick, he goes to her but she’s already dead when he arrives. As he lays dying, he’d even hear Josephine calling on to him for them to meet again.

This “Napoleon” flick is treated by Ridley Scott like an action epic. His first film, ‘The Duellists’, was set during the Napoleonic wars so he must really be enamoured with him. 

“Napoleon” is filmed against an astonishing backdrop of spectacular, large scale movie making apparent in its very expensive battle sequences.

Acting-wise Joaquin P. fails to impress in his portrayal of Napoleon as a volatile man who’s prone to ill-tempered outbursts and full of insecurity specially when it comes to Josephine who he enjoys humping from behind.

He was better in Scott’s Oscar-winning “Gladiator”, where he played villain to Maximus.

What the movie failed to probe is the psychology of Napoleon who is not really French but from Corsica, an island in the Meditarranean Sea. 

So he’s really an outsider and it’s natural for him to fear that the French mainlanders could reject him at any given moment. 

Vanessa Kirby, who we’ve found enthralling since we saw her as Princess Margaret in “The Crown”, treats her role with elegance and much poise that makes it understandable why Joaquin P behaves with childish jealousy.

We wish the movie has devoted more time and effort to her charaterization.

The stand outs in the large cast are Paul Rhys as Talleyrand, the negotiator who warns the Austrian king not to reject Napoleon’s offering of peace, and Rupert Everett as the Duke of Wellington who restrains his soldier not to shoot Napoleon at Waterloo, saying: “Generals are far too busy to waste time trying to kill each other.”