I watched this film in the cinema on the night of the 22nd of November, 2023
I think we can all agree that a movie like House of Gucci was alright but did not live up to the expectations of a Ridley Scott movie. We all remember Gladiator which was pretty much the perfect Ridley Scott movie and then we remember the experimentation of Alien and The Martian. I'm not going to lie when I say that there were some stuff that didn't quite add up about the Napoleon movie and there were other things that were amazing. I'm going to ignore the many historical inaccuracies of the film, if you want something historically accurate, go and read a textbook. If you're going to complain about historical inaccuracy and then don't want to read a book by Antonia Fraser etc. (whiney gen z voice ensues) 'because it's too long' or that sort then your talk about all this historical inaccuracy doesn't matter.
Let's first go through the good things about this film before I move on to the things that annoyed me more than they should have. First of all, there were those Ridley Scott battle scenes. Battle scenes of epic proportions for all of us who remember learning about Austerlitz at school was more than a masterpiece of cinematography. They were long, epic and brilliant. Each battle scene seemed better than the last and I think I can speak for all of us when I say we were waiting for Napoleon to get his ass handed to him in Waterloo - it was awesome. I have to say that these films felt like there was a real battle taking place on a real scale with real people - you really remember that these were all human beings that died under some madman. It brings you back to some sense of reality.
Another thing I enjoyed about the film was oddly the time stamps on the screen. I know that for those of us that liked learning about these things at school, time stamps were not required because we'd be able to recognise the battles anywhere. But the film made sure everyone, whether they knew about this guy or not, was involved in the process of time and how quickly this guy gained power. It was also a good idea to include Wellesley's name though I think everyone knows who he was already. The grand Duke of Wellington who sent Napoleon back from the battlefield. It was excellent to watch his downfall - or that's just probably because I have absolutely no sympathy for Napoleon Bonaparte.
Now for the things I didn't like or found weird about the film. First of all, the whole Napoleon/Josephine storyline was very messy. I don't think anyone who was watching the film gave a damn about their relationship. It was a good way of letting the audience who wouldn't have known see that they were both as horrid as each other but that was about it. It felt empty and a little jittery. One moment it mattered and the other it didn't.
Another thing I found a bit strange was that Joaquin Phoenix was talking like a stock photo. Let me explain: he was speaking in such a slow and monotonous voice that I honestly had trouble listening to him sometimes. There was a lot of mumbling going on and that really is not how many people imagine Napoleon to speak. I understood why he did that and it was intentional to make Napoleon look like as much of an asshole as physically possible - but it was not great for those watching the movie.
All in all, the battle scenes were great and so was the idea of time stamping. The scenes in which Napoleon was losing were possibly the best because that would be the only reason anyone would be watching the film. I can say that after seeing this film I still have no sympathy for the guy. Ridley Scott took a gamble with making a movie about a guy who was (whiney gen z voice ensues again) 'literally Hitler'. He took a risk sacrificing historical accuracy for the sheer entertainment of the movie. But in the end the whole thing paid off. It was pretty brilliant.
Oh and all those references to paintings of Napoleon... ah I'll let you see the movie.
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