When it comes to film genres, the historical epic isn’t considered to be the most interesting to myself, however Napoleon is a different case. While an excellent epic, it has faced some controversy over historical accuracy.
In an article by the New Yorker, a historian had been cited pointing out various inaccuracies in the trailer of the film alone, only to have director Ridley Scott (he/him) respond with the statement: “Get a life.” When it comes to historical accuracy in media, there’s the conflict between maintaining accuracy and telling a story in a way that’s more interesting, which is sometime to keep in mind when watching the film.
Despite this, the liberties and craft of the film didn’t detract from the quality at all, as it’s a film that is riddled with grandiose, booming battles that are caught between quieter, intimate moments. Neither of these types of scenes at all dropping in quality whenever the film changed between them. These contrasting moments allowed there to be a solid pace that kept me interested throughout. Sometimes I’d be more interested in the quieter moments.
These quieter moments often featured excellent character performances with Vanessa Kirby (she/her) as Josephine and Joaquin Phoenix (he/him) as the titular character. Throughout we see Joaquin’s Napoleon absolutely fawn over Josephine and see her establish her power in the relationship over him. It was entertaining seeing the film’s Napoleon portrayed as this expert tactician who also turns into this completely irritable and pathetic person around her, even having a classic joke on the dictator’s height. I had worries that the film would be glorifying this historical figure, however it thankfully didn’t at all.
Besides the great performances, each battle that was shown in the film were all distinct and absolutely stunning. In these scenes the sound design and visuals both danced together in harmony to give us the most interesting Napoleonic Era combat action I’ve ever seen. My favorite moment was perhaps the battle that occurred over an ice lake’s bank where there was some of the best visuals in the film.
With all of the great moments, both quiet and booming, Napoleon certainly doesn’t disappoint. From making me laugh when I didn’t think I would to having me awestruck at the scorched Moscow. It gets 5 short dictators out of 5.
One of my earlies memories was watching stories unfold on a small TV in my room. Ever since then, I've always wanted to become a filmmaker to put stories of my own onto all manner of screens. Being a fan of writing alongside this has also led to my love of writing analysis/reviews on the things I view. It's a joy to share to others my thoughts and insights on media.