Wednesday 22 November 2023

Napoleon - What I thought of the Movie


Where to start? Me and my good lady went to see the movie this afternoon. Here’s our combined thoughts, in no particular order:

  • Disjointed narrative
  • Episodic.
  • Badly edited.
  • Lighting was dreary with the odd bit of true Ridley Scott which was good.
  • Dialogue was poor.
  • Was it a biopic, an historical epic, a romance, a war movie? It didn’t know either.
  • Music pinched from Pride and Predjudice, the Keira Kightly one. Other tracks sounded like those out of Black Hawk Down or Gladiator.
  • Failed to explain historical stuff so if you didn’t know you’d be lost. 
  • Some poor casting. Vanessa Kirby wasn’t too bad as Josephine and Miles Jupp as Emperor Francis was amusing. Rupert Evert as Wellington was a joke. Indeed many of the persons depicted were mere caricatures. 
  • Some characters were introduced with a little caption, others were not, e.g. Davout, Ney. No logic.
  • Some glaring errors, e.g. referring to Francis as King rather than Emperor, Napoleon at the execution of Marie Antoinette, ‘Italy’ surrendering? Napoleon doing stuff he didn’t do, like leading cavalry charge. Using J as only reason N abandoned his army in Egypt, bollocks but very romantic.
  • The battles were pretty dreadful. The Paris mob scene was actually good. Toulon was ok but didn’t look right as I thought Fort Mulgrave was an earthwork. Egypt was, well, someone’s imagination ran wild. Austerlitz was very wrong. Borodino was even more wrong. Waterloo a joke.
  • Whatever happened to Marengo or Wagram?Left handed cavalry charge still in. So many flags! As many as in Kingdom of Heaven almost!
  • Borodino and Waterloo had both sides dug in WW1 style! Actually, same true of Austerlitz where the French were dug in or hiding under tarpaulins. Eh?
  • The frozen ponds at Austerlitz were more like the Great Lakes! I didn’t think it was that snowy either.
  • More about the relationship between N and J which is not a bad thing as somewhere I have a book of the letters they exchanged over the years.
  • The uniforms looked good and they did change as the years progressed so that is a plus point.
  • I’ve just remembered there were mounted Lifeguards guarding N on St Helena and they showed him dying by sliding sideways into the end credits.
  • The cannons did recoil and the balls didn’t explode which is good.
I went with an open mind on the basis that a movie is first and foremost entertainment. This was barely that (ok a little harsh, just), but a self indulgent exercise by Ridley Scott. Katherine with a lay person’s perspective thought it was  rubbish. It could have been so much more…..but I don’t regret going to see it, and I am looking forward to the extended directors cut on Apple TV whenever it comes out.

But don’t let me put anyone off going to see it. 


  1. Thank you for the review. I was hoping for so much more.

    1. Only my thoughts and those of the missus. Others will no doubt love it.

  2. This reads exactly as I thought it would . My only disappointment is that you did not find it entertaining. I thought at the very least it might be fun and mildly entertaining. Hollywood does not do history.

    1. Martin, I almost fell asleep at one point. To be fair I’m glad I went and don’t feel like it was a waste of time. Colin

  3. Thank you for your honest opinion. I appreciate it. Probably will see it but not expecting much.

  4. Interesting to read of your thoughts on the film. I might go , can’t make up my mind.
    Alan Tradgardland

  5. Too late, dude: I think you have put me off going to see it. I have often found movie treatments of historical events - especially wars - pretty disappointing. I think they did these things better back in the 1930s (Charge of the Light Brigade with Errol Flynn, and the 1927 film - a 5-hour endurance event). I don't reckon I'll be in an all-fired hurry to shell out the shekels on what seems to be a shlockfest.

  6. Not a Gettysburg then. Your review confirms the opinion I formed after I saw the ad on tv, that I should skip the hour's drive to the nearest cinema and wait for it to show up on my littler big screen at home.

  7. Even before I read your excellent review I'd already condemned this movie to the dustbin!
    I always get a bit cynical when "historical" movies are wheeled out because they become shadows of history after the directors are finished with it. Napoleon is yet another opportunity missed.

  8. Thanks for that- I shan't bother I had decided this after seeing the trailer as it looked both wrong and rather dreary. But the mere fact you (and I) criticise Mr Scott apparently means you need to 'Get a Life'. Yes it was supposed to be entertainment not history but your useful review confirms my fears that is was neither. Ridley can shove it .

  9. Colin I hate to say it but sadly it is the worst film I have ever seen.