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HomeOpinionNapoleon's errors make it hard to watch

Napoleon’s errors make it hard to watch

Napoleon, released last November, is about the Corsican-born French figure Napoleon Bonaparte’s ascension from being a military officer to the king of France while also experiencing a rollercoaster of a relationship with his wife, Josephine.

Directed by Ridley Scott, the film is supposed to be a big-budget war epic, with the trailer depicting it to be a dramatic yet action-packed movie filled with all of Napoleon’s conquests across Europe and Africa.

The problem is that the movie doesn’t achieve that; instead, it has a lot of relationship drama, with sections of action and gore scattered throughout the film.

Napoleon is played by Joaquin Phoenix, best known for the Joker series. Vanessa Kirby plays Napoleon’s lover, Josephine, while Edouard Philipponnat plays Tsar Alexander.

The movie spends a lot of time focusing on the relationship between Napoleon and Josephine, which could be written better. They are uncomfortably flirting for most of the movie, and Josephine’s casting choice, despite being good, is uncomfortable because she is 14 years younger than him, an age difference that’s immediately apparent. This also impacts the realism of it, as it is depicted in the film that she is, in fact, older than him, which is historically accurate.

There is another issue with the film, though. It needs to focus more on what made the movie so highly regarded pre-release, which is the actual battles.

The movie is also rife with historical inaccuracy. This is especially the case when Napoleon goes through with the invasion of Egypt, which is set in front of the great pyramids of Giza. They also shoot the top of it off, which doesn’t feel realistic at all.

One positive aspect of the film is that it is visually gorgeous, thanks to cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, known for the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, The Martian and Sweeney Todd.

Wolski did a fantastic job shooting this film, with a lot of the battle scenes being visual spectacles, and my favourite part of the film being the scene where Napoleon places the crown of France atop his head, which emulates the Jacques Louis-David painting from the same event.

Despite Ridley Scott’s criticism of reviewers for pointing out inaccuracies and errors—stating that ‘it wasn’t a documentary’—these aspects still detract from the viewing experience. The other errors make it an awkward viewing experience rather than the dramatic movie that was promised with the trailer.

Although the movie is visually stunning and well-shot, its mistakes and awkward writing make it hard to watch.