Napoleon Movie Review

Sonali Saha
4 Min Read

The film ‘Napoleon’ depicts the rise of the French leader, Napoleon Bonaparte, and his relationship with Empress Josephine. In this film, Joaquin Phoenix portrays Napoleon, while Vanessa Kirby plays the role of Napoleon’s wife, Josephine. Ridley Scott directed the film, and David Scarpa penned the story. Joaquin Phoenix is known for his roles in period dramas and darker films, having received various awards, including an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, a Grammy Award, and two Golden Globe Awards.

In 2020, The New York Times recognized him as one of the greatest actors of the 21st century. He was also involved in producing this film. Actress Vanessa Kirby, known for her work in the ‘Mission: Impossible’ film series among other movies, received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for the film ‘Pieces of a Woman’.

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The film ‘Napoleon’ begins with the execution of Marie Antoinette, which Napoleon witnesses, feeling that her presence was an obstacle in his pursuit of power. The movie portrays Napoleon’s journey from a mere artillery commander to becoming the Emperor of France. Within a few years, Napoleon ascends to the position of Emperor and displays the ability to conquer the world, despite many considering his grasp of power as unfit. He strives to fulfill his dreams following the footsteps of Alexander and Caesar. While the film showcases Napoleon’s remarkable career, it overlooks several aspects of his life.

Director Ridley Scott believed it unnecessary to explicitly explain who Napoleon is and what he wants in the film, assuming that information is more readily available on the internet. The film starts with the execution of Marie Antoinette, but it doesn’t clarify the reason behind the public’s intense hatred towards her. Although Napoleon fought in 21 battles in his life, the movie only mentions six of them. After watching the film, it’s not evident why Napoleon is fighting specific battles or signing particular treaties.

While the battle scenes in the film are spectacular, many sequences shot in snowy and foggy environments make it hard to discern who is winning or why. The captions on the screen are needed to identify who is speaking. The movie abruptly shifts from the battlefield to palaces and grand halls. The film feels disjointed, lacking coherence between its scenes, and appearing somewhat meandering from start to finish.

Joaquin Phoenix delivers a stellar performance as Napoleon, showcasing complex relationships, including that with Empress Josephine. Vanessa Kirby leaves her impact in the role of Empress Josephine. Notable performances include Tahar Rahim as the French revolutionary politician, Rupert Everett as Arthur Wellesley, and Mark Bonnar as the French military commander. Writer David Scarpa covers approximately thirty years of Napoleon’s life in the film, focusing on both his personal and historical aspects. However, many unanswered questions linger after watching the film, which director Ridley Scott failed to address entirely.

Covering Napoleon’s entire life journey in a two-hour-forty-minute film is challenging. It was essential to present Napoleon’s character convincingly at the film’s outset so that viewers could understand who Napoleon was. To truly enjoy the film, prior knowledge about Napoleon’s character is beneficial before watching it. The film’s cinematography stands out as its best feature. Cinematographer Dariusz Wolski beautifully captures the battle scenes, making them visually striking.

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Hi, my name is Sonali, I am a content writer specializing in the topics of Relationships, Travel, News, Bollywood, and More.
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