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Ridley Scott's Napoleon movie (contains SPOILERS)

Posted by Michael Robert on 28 Nov 2023, 13:31

Hello,
saw the movie. Have my opinion and i'll state it. So, if you don't want to have the film spoiled stop reading :-)

Good news: I think the research on costumes was rather well done and there are no big errors. On the contrary, the splendour of uniforms and the movement and drama in battle scenes are one of the highlights of the film.
Downside: Two battles are depicted more in "detail", Austerlitz and Waterloo. Well, if you know anything about the plot of these battles you will find a entire reinterpretation here. It allows for spectacular and photogenic scenes but is historic garbage. Example: Austerlitz battle is depicted as if Napoleon has trapped the allied army on the frozen lake. Great imagery but the fleeing of elements of the Austro-Russian army across the lake is a minor side story of the real thing.
Big downside: I asked myself how such a history packed story as the entire career of Napoleon can be told in just a bit more than 2 hours. Answer: it can't. The entire narrative for anyone acquainted with a bit of history is patchy. Just impossible to comprehend many events. Even the "main story" - the relationship between Josephine and Napoleon is difficult to follow because of this patchyness. It could fill an entire film just with the story of their encounter and becoming emperor - here 10/15 minutes. The two actors do their best, but they are not helped by the film storyboard.
Conclusion: nice and grandiose scenes - no narrative, no depth and no satisfying plot. For someone not knowing anythying about Napoleon he will not see why many people see him as "great".
Well - that's just my opinion and I'm curious to hear yours
Greetings
Michael
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Michael Robert  France

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Posted by Bessiere on 28 Nov 2023, 19:26

Such a tragic missed opportunity this film was. Many will find it infuriatingly inaccurate as formations don't exist and battles like Waterloo are fought from trenches. There is no Italian campaign for Napoleon to establish himself in, no Murat to assist in his rise. There are few well done bits (costumes, coronation looks like the painting by David) but basically it's a confusing love story with quasi-historical bits tossed in. Save your money and hope some filmmaker gets so mad they have to outdo this tosser of a flick. Ridley Scott is no longer the man of vision he once was and his attitude towards historians deplorable. I nearly cried viewing it.
Cheers,
Bessiere
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Posted by santifernandez on 28 Nov 2023, 19:41

I want to go see the movie but leaving the historian out and just to enjoy it for a while...it's difficult.
Santi.
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Posted by Konrad on 28 Nov 2023, 19:58

I'm sorry for all the Nappy fans here.
But for me, Dino De Laurentii's "Waterloo" with Rod Steiger is the measure of all things.

As a big samurai fan, I hope this movie will be better.

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Posted by Santi Pérez on 28 Nov 2023, 20:02

Michael Robert wrote:...Conclusion: nice and grandiose scenes - no narrative, no depth and no satisfying plot. For someone not knowing anythying about Napoleon he will not see why many people see him as "great".
Well - that's just my opinion and I'm curious to hear yours...


Bessiere wrote:Such a tragic missed opportunity this film was. Many will find it infuriatingly inaccurate as formations don't exist and battles like Waterloo are fought from trenches. There is no Italian campaign for Napoleon to establish himself in, no Murat to assist in his rise. There are few well done bits (costumes, coronation looks like the painting by David) but basically it's a confusing love story with quasi-historical bits tossed in. Save your money and hope some filmmaker gets so mad they have to outdo this tosser of a flick. Ridley Scott is no longer the man of vision he once was and his attitude towards historians deplorable. I nearly cried viewing it...

I also saw the movie last Sunday and share the opinions of Michael and Bessiere. I left the cinema very disappointed. I went to see the film with high expectations, but most of them were not met. :(

I found it a pity that the immense budget invested in the film (which can be seen in some of the "good news" that Michael points out), was not used to produce results more in line with the multiple historical knowledge that exists today on all the subjects (especially the military) dealt with in the movie. :(

I don't advise against going to see the film, as Bessiere does. On the contrary, I recommend that everyone should see it and draw their own conclusions, which need not necessarily coincide with ours. ;-)

My own conclusion is clear. For me, the best film about Napoleon is still Sergei Bondarchuk's 1970 "Waterloo". :mrgreen:

Santi.
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Posted by Kekso on 28 Nov 2023, 20:21

I haven't read this topic. Just first sentence. So I've write spoiler warning in the title.
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Posted by Minuteman on 28 Nov 2023, 21:14

Bessiere wrote:Such a tragic missed opportunity this film was. Many will find it infuriatingly inaccurate as formations don't exist and battles like Waterloo are fought from trenches. There is no Italian campaign for Napoleon to establish himself in, no Murat to assist in his rise. There are few well done bits (costumes, coronation looks like the painting by David) but basically it's a confusing love story with quasi-historical bits tossed in. Save your money and hope some filmmaker gets so mad they have to outdo this tosser of a flick. Ridley Scott is no longer the man of vision he once was and his attitude towards historians deplorable. I nearly cried viewing it.
Cheers,
Bessiere


Which neatly sums up much of what I have been reading about this film....

I have been following views on this 'epic' film over the last couple of weeks, trying to work out whether to actually go to see it, or perhaps simply wait until it is released on one or other of the on-line sites (or even as an editors cut box set on DVD!).

The majority of views seem to be that it is not very accurate historically. Or, more correctly, that it is very inaccurate not only in the sense of the military aspects (ie: those things that we on Bennos would look out for, like formations, tactics, as well as depictions of battles), but also in charting the course of Napoleons life and career. Indeed, reading the view of one French film critic just now, her view is that the whole thing is a travesty of history of one of France's greatest and most notable sons.

I believe that the budget for the film was about $200, that they had 500 extras, access to amazing CGI resources, and an 'ex-paratrooper' (really?) as a military advisor (which might explain the trenches??). With such resources just think what could have been done...if only.

So, probably a wasted opportunity. And certainly, not a film that I think I will be going to see. Such a shame.

But then maybe, just maybe, some Director will one day make the definitive film of the life of the Duke of Marlborough. Just think how glorious the depictions of the battles of Blenheim and Ramillies could be. If only,...
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Posted by Bessiere on 29 Nov 2023, 01:40

It would be a true challenge to make a worse movie than Napoleon, I'm sure it will be an improvement. It's practically guaranteed! I agree with you about Rod Steiger despite his overly dramatic bits or Bondarchuks idea of inserting a hurricane in to the battle. I'm not much of a Tom Cruise fan but that movie he did about Shogunate Japan was really good.
cheers,
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Posted by Zed1 on 29 Nov 2023, 21:35

Well. Whoever was responsible for costumes and equipment has a fetish about flags. There are far too many flags in this movie - unfortunately, 90% of them are wrong.

I don't know what's the reason for that. One big flag would have been enough to signalize 'here comes the Frenchies'. But instead, there's a flag overkill in here.

Look at this poor guy:
Image
This flagpole must be more then 4 meters in height. Look how this guy struggles to keep that enourmous flag on this ridiculously long flagpole under control!

Image

Another example - the size of that thing is enourmous. Try to ride with that flag in your hand! There are reasons, why cavalry banners were way smaller. Oh - and by the way: why the heck are horse grenadiers, guard chasseurs a cheval and line dragoons riding together in a wild mixture? And who's commanding them? Nobody, it seems. Because otherwise, they wouldn't have mixed, would they?

Image

But this picture is my absolute favourite. (Wrong) Flags all over the place! A flag overkill! I just ask myself - when everybody is riding with a flag in his hands into battle, who does the fighting?

If you ask me, the battlescenes all look very similar to what Scott has made in 'kingdom of heavens' - only with muskets. There are many nicely done uniforms in this movie, but the whole depiction of the battles doesn't make any sense at all.
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Posted by k.b. on 30 Nov 2023, 09:44

Thanks for your comments Zed. From this and all I’ve read about the movie I must say I have no intention whatsoever of spending my hard earned cash on such dross.

What a huge disappointment Ridley Scott has become in his old age. To think that one and the same person was able to begin his career with the brilliant film the Duellists to perhaps his swan song on the life of no less a man than Napoleon Bonaparte. Up to now it makes sense. But instead of an accurate 3 and a half hour masterpiece he chooses to produce what appears to be more akin to theatrical comedy. How dare he do that. Disrespect history so much. And it’s not that I am a stickler for exact historical reproduction. I do admit that sometimes a little creative license is acceptable. But again I ask myself how could Ridley Scott do this with Napoleon. Literally tear up the history books and give people who know nothing about history a completely false impression of such an important historical character. And for those of us who know quite a bit about the subject he slaps us repeatedly in the face……. Could he be challenging us all to one final duel? Daring us to go and watch his final act. Sorry Ridley, am not buying it. Yours truly is not D’Hubert….. Instead I am absolutely flummoxed. The older I get the less I understand human beings!

Which is probably why I am spending a smaller portion of my increasingly precious time watching the news, and more time painting my minis and posting here on Bennos.
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Posted by MABO on 30 Nov 2023, 14:41

It was really funny, because Benno and me have been in the cinema at the same time. On the first day the film was out. After watching it , we discussed the result. And I think we both shared the comments from Michael and the others here who watched the movie. A lot of bad decisions in my point of view. What a pity!
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Posted by Bessiere on 30 Nov 2023, 15:19

Here's a review by someone who knows the history and expresses his criticisms in a much more elegant fashion than I ever could. I've watched probably 20 reviews and this is the best.
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Posted by Wiking on 01 Dec 2023, 17:36

The Film is simply a disappointment for me.
Sooo many historical mistakes or imprtent battels are not exist in this film. Sure, 2,5 hour are too short.
Why was Napoleon such a genius to win so many battles ? Nothing is shown in the Film.
The trailer shows battles. And the Film show s so many different - something !
I am far from being an expert of the Napoleon timeline. But what I had learned in the school in the 80ies about Napoleon is simply not shown.

I visit with my very first girl friend the monument of the battle of Leipzig. The biggest battle at that time.
In the Film. Nothing !
I stop my critic. Becaus it will be endless.
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Posted by sberry on 01 Dec 2023, 17:42

Minuteman wrote:So, probably a wasted opportunity. And certainly, not a film that I think I will be going to see. Such a shame.


Bessiere wrote:Such a tragic missed opportunity this film was. Many will find it infuriatingly inaccurate as formations don't exist and battles like Waterloo are fought from trenches. ... Ridley Scott is no longer the man of vision he once was and his attitude towards historians deplorable.

I totally agree!
Initially, I wasn’t sure if I would want to see this movie, but meanwhile, after I’ve read so many reviews, I have made up my mind: Definitely not!

And since I know only too well how Ridley Scott transformed Roman history into a big heap of garbage, I wasn’t surprised the least that he now did the same with Napoleonic history.

I know, “Gladiator” has a lot of fans, but for me it was an utter disappointment, even though I had not very high expectations before I watched it.

The opening scene, the battle, is full of absurdities, and from there on, it only gets worse.
The political framing of the transition from Marcus Aurelius to Commodus and of Commodus’ reign is completely wrong. They even weren’t able to invent a proper Roman name for the main character – “Maximus Decimus Meridius” is just garbled Latin of the “Romanes eunt domus” brand. It is the same strange desire to distort history that is obviously at work in Scott’s “Napoleon”.

Well, Gladiator is not about the intricacies of Roman politics, one might say, it is mainly about gladiators. Right, but here the movie is a total failure, too: One has the feeling that they put an enormous amount of effort into getting EVERY aspect of gladiatorial combat wrong. They even had hired Kathleen Coleman, a classical scholar, only to completely ignore any of her advice – in the end, she insisted on having her name removed from the movie credits. I would be not surprised at all when the same kind of historical expertise had been requested and then neglected for Napoleon, too.

k.b. wrote: What a huge disappointment Ridley Scott has become in his old age. To think that one and the same person was able to begin his career with the brilliant film the Duellists to perhaps his swan song on the life of no less a man than Napoleon Bonaparte.

And to make things worse, “Prometheus” and “Alien: Covenant” aren’t good either and make no sense at all as prequels (or sequels or whatever) of Scott’s fantastic original Alien movie… Sad.
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Posted by sansovino on 01 Dec 2023, 18:07

Let us hope that Steven Spielberg makes a better HBO-serie on Napoleon with the refound research- and set-books of Stanley Kubrick.

After months of promoting the film, I was totally disappointed from Scotts very ridiculous fairytales. I have rarely seen such a stupid film that arbitrarily remixes history beyond all facts. Scott has either become senile or completely ignorant. This film has little to do with the historical Napoleon. The French are right that this film is an imposition.

Regarding his private life, the film is on a soap opera level with a lot of freely invented stuff - his jealousy is said to have been responsible for him fleeing Egypt or returning from Elba. And the battles are on the level of Petersen's Troy film: with ridiculously strange army formations, fantasy-battle scenes (cannon fire on the tops of the pyramids or his reinterpreted drowning scenes of soldiers from Saving Private Ryan), a-historical topography (bohemian Austerlitz at the foot of the Alps!) and cavalry attacks with Napoleon at the head - completely crazy and confused. And lastly: the casting of all historical figures such as Alexander of Russia, Metternich, Sieyes or Talleyrand completely ignores their historic age differences and physiognomies. Scotts flag-mania is so only one more strange fantasy. Just a lot of junk ...
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Posted by Rich W on 02 Dec 2023, 00:24

Right, now that I've been to watch it I can add my views....

The film isn't very good. The end.
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Posted by Bessiere on 03 Dec 2023, 13:06

"Most expensive bomb since Heavens Gate" - The Bessiere reviews.
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Posted by Peter on 03 Dec 2023, 17:34

I haven't seen the movie yet but as I see the comments here I doubt if I go to the cinema. I think I wait for the DVD. ;-)

In the mean time I can always see this ;-) :

Image
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Posted by Kekso on 03 Dec 2023, 17:38

Peter wrote: I think I wait for the DVD. ;-)


DVD? Man, you're old :xd: :xd: :xd:
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Posted by Peter on 03 Dec 2023, 17:50

Kekso wrote:
DVD? Man, you're old :xd: :xd: :xd:


What do you mean? Explain me. Did I miss something? :eh:
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