As we approach the release date of the film Napoleon, the hype about it keeps getting bigger and bigger, and why wouldn’t it?! It is a historical movie by one of the genre masters headlined by one of the most brilliant actors of the decade; the film just has all the right ingredients for success! It is safe to say that Napoleon is the film that is set to become the next biopic to be talked about around the world.
Ever since announcing that it would be released in 2023, the film Napoleon has been right up at the top of the list of the most anticipated films. The new film by the versatile Ridley Scott, director of Alien (1979), Blade Runner (1982) and Thelma and Louise (1991), among many other gems, will feature the all-rounder Joaquin Phoenix as the famous Napoleon.
The highly-anticipated new biopic is not about rock stars or fashion designers this time. It’s about none other than the legendary Napoleon Bonaparte, a French military icon and leader during the French Revolution. The film is an Apple Studios production in collaboration with Scott Free Production. While we wait for the film’s release, here is everything you need to know about the highly anticipated Napoleon!
Napoleon: The Man Behind the Story
There are several characters throughout history whose achievements and triumphs have positioned them as world-renowned personalities, and Napoleon Bonaparte is definitely one of those characters. Napoleon is a man who came from a simple background and yet managed to reach the top of the world —who doesn’t love this kind of story?
Napoleon was born in Ajaccio on 15 August 1769 into a family of minor Corsican-Italian nobility. His father, Charles Bonaparte, was a lawyer on the island’s High Council.
He became a Brigadier general at the age of 25 from 1796 to 1799. While serving in this position, Napoleon helped defeat the Piedmontese and Austrian armies during the first Italian campaign. On 19 May 1798, he embarked on the Egyptian campaign at the head of some 400 ships.
On 9 November 1799, after the famous Coup of 18–19 Brumaire that ended the French Revolution, Napoleon started making his way to the top. In May 1802, Napoleon made one of his less-celebrated political moves when he re-established slavery in the French colonies after it was abolished during the French Revolution.
Two years later, on 2 December 1804, Napoleon proclaimed himself emperor and continued to revolutionise the country’s military, legal and educational institutions. As an emperor, Napoleon had big political dreams, dreams that included conquering the United Kingdom!
However, that dream never came true as on 21 October 1805, Napoleon’s plan to invade the United Kingdom failed at the Battle of Trafalgar, which was won by the British fleet under Admiral Nelson.
Napoleon shook off the defeat quickly, and less than two months later, he won a decisive victory over the Austrian and Russian armies at the Battle of Austerlitz on 2 December 1805. This victory is considered by many to be his tactical masterpiece.
Almost a decade later, and after leading many successful campaigns in different countries during the Revolutionary Wars, came the failure of the Russian campaign at the end of 1812, which forced Napoleon to abdicate and be exiled to the island of Elba, off the Italian coast.
It wasn’t until 26 February 1815 that he returned to Paris again. This marked the beginning of the “Hundred Days”, during which he regained power and prepared for the final confrontation with the armies of the coalition led by the British and the Prussians.
As fate would have it, the bad days caught up with him again and on 18 June 1815, he was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo, and Napoleon was exiled again by the British forces. He was taken on a British ship to St Helena, off the coast of Africa, where he died on 5 May 1821.
When Will Napoleon be Released?
The film Napoleon is expected to hit theatres on 22 November 2023. Thanks to a first look at the official trailer, we get a glimpse of how the film captures Bonaparte’s relentless journey to power. From his appearance, his “lack of manners” (sic), and his bizarre but effective military tactics, we get a sneak peek of a unique character, conflicted but sure of his goal: to conquer all.
In that sense, the cinematic filming setting is varied and exotic, with grasslands, valleys and snow-capped mountains. Orchestrated by industry heavyweight Ridley Scott, the 85-year-old director is back with a genre that he has mastered so well over the years, bringing this epic to life.
The film is not all about fighting and political tensions. In the film, we meet Josephine de Beauharnais (Vanessa Kirby), Bonaparte’s wife and catalyst. For better and for worse, with love and toxicity, the couple climbed the political terrain of France and the rest of Europe, conquering all around them. The marriage took place between 1796 and 1810, and in the trailer, you can see the exact moment when the two cross paths.
Napoleon tells the epic rise and fall of French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, played by Oscar winner Joaquin Phoenix and directed by legendary filmmaker Ridley Scott. The film traces Bonaparte’s unstoppable rise to power through his tempestuous relationship with his one true love, Josephine (Vanessa Kirby), showing the great leader’s visionary political and military strategies in some of the most realistic and spectacular battle scenes ever filmed.
Napoleon 2023 Cast & Crew
Besides Joaquin Phoenix and Vanessa Kirby, the film’s large cast also includes Ludivine Sagnier (Theresa Cabarrus), Ben Miles (Coulancourt), Tahar Rahim (Paul Barras), Catherine Walker (Marie Antoinette), Youssef Kerkour (General Davout), Paul Rhys (Talleyrand) and Matthew Needham (Lucien Bonaparte). Coming up next, we take a closer look at the cast and crew.
When we talk about true geniuses of cinema, many names come to mind: Quentin Tarantino, with his ode to B movies; Francis Ford Coppola, who stuns us with his genuine way of understanding the scene; or Martin Scorsese, who always gives us journeys into the depths of human decadence.
Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg and Christopher Nolan often creep into these debates, but what’s common in all these debates is that Ridley Scott always stands out in a particular way. We can’t say he’s better or worse than the others because that would be trying to compare Bach to Beethoven, but he is definitely incredible in his own special way.
Ridley Scott is characterised by being ahead of his time. Beyond technical perfection (which he masters), his greatest virtue is that he is always one step ahead. That was clear from the beginning of his career; after triumphing at Cannes with The Duelists (1977), he surprised the world with Alien (1979), which is still a distinguished film for sure, but at the time, it was a real revolution!
However, Ridley was only getting started; he followed these two gems with another when he directed Blade Runner, which helped revive the film noir genre and somehow inaugurated the neo-noir genre. Year after year and film after film, Ridley Scott has surprised us with new, fresh and striking ideas which, although they have not always gone down well, have all improved over the years.
Ridley Scott is one of the most influential British directors in Hollywood. Very few directors can match what he has achieved with his films. On the one hand, for his ability to create diverse spaces and worlds with a perfection worthy of admiration. With a definition of the characters to the millimetre, reflecting each and every one of the emotions and feelings that every person can experience throughout their lives: love, revenge, anguish, anger or fear.
Ridley Scott directed Napoleon from a screenplay by the brilliant David Scarpa (The Castle, The Day the Earth Stood Still, All the Money in the World and episodes of the TV series The Man in the High Castle). Scarpa also wrote the first draft of the sequel Gladiator 2, due for release on 22 November 2024 and Denis Villeneuve’s biopic Cleopatra, currently in production.
Despite the excellent work in his Oscar-winning portrayal of Gotham’s quintessential villain, to say that Joker movie is Joaquin Phoenix’s best performance is a bit of an understatement. Joaquin has worked more than once with great directors like James Gray, M. Night Shyamalan, Gus Van Sant and Paul Thomas Anderson.
With many excellent performances throughout his career, this is a man who has a bar that never stops rising and a career in which it is frankly difficult to single out “a masterful performance”, as he gives his body and soul to every project he chooses.
Joaquin Phoenix is one of the most successful actors who captivates audiences every time he appears on screen. His remarkable talent has been demonstrated in a number of films, where he has taken on leading roles to exceptional effect. Among his outstanding performances are the emotional role in the film Her, the chaotic character he played in the film Beau is Scared, and, of course, the dramatic performance he presented in the film The Master.
With such an impressive history, everybody is truly eager to see how the brilliant Joaquin Phoenix will bring life to the character of Napoleon in the upcoming film. In the film, Joaquin portrays the ruthless rise to power of the famous emperor during the French Revolution, a historical figure who leaves his mark on the collective memory.
Part of the hype about Napoloan is definitely due to the fact that this is the reunion of Ridley Scott and Joaquin Phoenix, who are working again after the masterpiece Gladiator (2000), a pivotal film in Phoenix’s career and Ridley’s as well. Interestingly, in both films, Phoenix plays an important historical figure (Emperor Commodus in 2000 and Napoleon in this film).
Jodie Comer was chosen for the role of Empress Josephine Bonaparte but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. Jodie was replaced by another rising British star, Vanessa Kirby.
Vanessa Kirby went from starring roles in BBC productions to Hollywood films thanks to her exposure to series such
as The Crown, where she presented one of her best performances, according to many critics. The Crown, the Emmy-winning series, has been a showcase for the talented actress, whose performance as Princess Margaret has brought her all the critical acclaim she has been working for.
In fact, Vanessa has said on more than one occasion how important it has been for her career to give life to one of the most controversial characters of British royalty. The Crown catapulted her, and with that series alone, she managed to be one of the most multi-awarded actresses in the cast in 2017.
Vanessa Kirby then made her foray into the action genre thanks to films like Mission Impossible: Fallout, where she played arms dealer Alanna Mitsopolis, aka the White Widow, and the actress’ charisma made the character memorable.
Vanessa’s performance was so good that she managed to secure a fixed place among Ethan Hunt’s crew, as she was confirmed to reprise her role for two films after Fallout, one of which was Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, which was released in 2023.
Speaking of action, we have to give a shoutout to her role as Hattie Shaw in Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw, a woman who must work with her brother, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) and Special Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) to stop a criminal with superpowers. These roles proved that the action genre fits her like a glove!
The cast of Napoleon also includes Ben Miles, who plays Coulancourt. Miles is an English actor known for his outstanding career in the world of theatre, cinema, and TV. Throughout his career, he has played a wide variety of characters in numerous theatrical productions, winning acclaim from audiences and critics alike.
Throughout his career, he also appeared in a number of series that have achieved great success both in the UK and internationally. These shows include The Crown, the celebrated Netflix production that chronicles the life of Queen Elizabeth II and the recent history of the British monarchy. In this series, Miles plays politician and Member of Parliament Peter Townsend. The Crown has been praised for its visual approach, its script and the performances of its cast, and has won multiple accolades at various awards.
With so much buzz around it before even its theatrical release date on 22 November 2023, it is safe to say that Napoleon will be packed with drama, bloody battles, and a production hype of biblical proportions. Dare we say that Napoleon is sure to be one of the best films of the year?