A historical epic like none before: a look inside Ridley Scott’s NAPOLEON coming to the big screen

Nov 06, 2023
War, passion, power and an all-consuming love… NAPOLEON, coming to cinemas November 23 and has something for everyone. Source: Supplied

Napoleon. A name of such immense notoriety it needs no further introduction. A name which throughout history remains attributed to a diminutive yet all-powerful historical figure synonymous with mighty dominance, ambition and meteoric fame. 

Much has been written about Napoleon Bonaparte, yet the intriguing detail surrounding the true driving force behind this complex conqueror remains relatively unknown… until now.

The long-awaited arrival of acclaimed movie director Sir Ridley Scott’s portrayal of the man behind the name and the tumultuous romance with the love of his life stars Oscar-winner Joaquin Phoenix (Joker, Walk the Line, Gladiator) as Napoleon Bonaparte, and Oscar-nominated Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman, Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning, Mission Impossible Fallout) as Josephine, Napoleon’s wife and great love.  

The big screen depiction of Napoleon’s rapid rise from military general to the Emperor of France in the early 19th century might fairly be expected to be yet another monumental war story. But Scott, renowned for his visually impactful films rich in juicy detail, has produced an epic historical drama with a defining focus on one of the most captivating, unbridled and destructive love stories of all time.  

Ruthless in war, a tyrant in his country, but also a liberator who came from nothing and was one of the first in history to show that leadership talent could come from any class, Napoleon’s success on the battlefield has passed into legend. Such was his tactical brilliance and merciless reputation that the world required seven different coalitions of European powers to defeat him. But off the battlefield, his obsession with Josephine – his lover, his wife, his empress – would define his life as much as any battle.

War, passion, power and an all-consuming love… NAPOLEON has something for everyone.

Epic battle sequences

The last time the Academy Award-winning director/actor duo of Ridley Scott and Joaquin Phoenix teamed up was for the action-packed release of Gladiator (Russel Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix) in 2000. Now, 23 years later they deliver that dynamic and captivating energy to the big screen once again. 

Scott’s eye for detail and Phoenix’s immersive passion bring alive the fascinating story of the rise of General Napoleon Bonaparte as he conquers battlefields across Europe, killing hundreds of thousands on his path to becoming the self-proclaimed Emperor of France in 1804.

Source: Supplied

Scott’s fascination with war began at a young age, his first career choice being to enlist in the British Royal Army. Swayed by his father, instead he pursued a career in film at London’s Royal Academy of Art where he discovered a talent for production design before a speedy rise to director fame, almost as rapid as Napoleon’s.

Even more powerful and riveting than Scott’s previous war scenes in Black Hawk Down (2001), Robin Hood (2010) and Gladiator (2000), NAPOLEON’s mighty battle scenes are a phenomenal reconstruction of the real thing, filmed on a massive scale incorporating 300 men and 100 horses using eleven cameras capturing the sheer epic scale of the production.

A spellbinding tale of love and power

From war on the battlefield to romantic and lustful power struggles in the bedroom, movie-goers will be given rarely-seen insight into Napoleon’s obsessive and stormy relationship with the woman who soon became his wife and Empress, Josephine de Beauharnais. His ambitious pursuit of Josephine as a rich older woman provides insight to his true character and the depth of his ambition. 

Source: Supplied

Scott’s perspective of the driving forces behind Napoleon and Josephine’s dynamic relationship is personified by stunning period costumes in lavish neoclassical designs, along with glorious scenery on sets predominately filmed throughout the U.K. 

Described as his muse, the story of Josephine’s marriage to Napoleon is underscored by infidelity and driven by a love of power and prestige. 

Academy Award®-nominated film producer, Kevin J. Walsh, describes “They have a real push and pull; they’re infatuated with each other and fuel each other, and without each other, they wouldn’t be the same person.”

See Napoleon in cinemas November 23

Napoleon is a spectacle-filled action epic that details the chequered rise and fall of the iconic French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, played by Oscar®-winner Joaquin Phoenix and directed by legendary filmmaker Ridley Scott.

Watch Trailer