Home Forums Horse and Musket Napoleonic Ridley Scott’s Napoleon

Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 40 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #192906
    Avatar photoSkip
    Participant

    Went with my sister who knows not much about the Napoleonic era.  She thought it was entertaining at least. I didn’t expect much in historical accuracy but think they got the high points about Josephine mostly right as I remember.  Have read a bit on the couple but no longer a center of interest. So thought the actress who played her did the best job.

    Phoenix was OK, certainly too old for 1/2 the movie taking place in 1790s.

    H8ed the Wellington character.

    And the battle scenes had lots of action, uniforms (French is not my expertise) seemed reasonable but the mechanics was dismal.

    Should have done more with Eugene having introduced him early never to be seen again.

     

    #192909
    Avatar photoAndrew Beasley
    Participant

    Putting aside the history – was it a good film or do you need the history to make sense of it?

    i.e. Is it worth me going and spending £££ with just a general grasp of the period…

    #192910
    Avatar photoSkip
    Participant

    It is worthy to see it, the early Napoleonic age starting was good, certainly if you know not much it won’t bother you to know certain scenes are totally fabricated.

    #192912
    Avatar photomark leslie
    Participant

    One of the few times when knowing less on a subject is an advantage…

    …for entertainment purposes that is.

    Fossilizing nicely.

    #192913
    Avatar photoOotKust
    Participant

    I’m not a “told you so” person but with all managing Directors, they either are a bewildering array of happiness and light, or a doom and gloom look at a sombre subject.
    Seems to be, from what I have read, friends threaten to kidnap me and go see it, is the mode of ‘interpretation’ used and the social focus, not to be overlooked, but nor should it have been given dominance I fear.
    Buonaparte was captured by a **LF, neither was honourable to their (overt) vows; if you were going to focus on J. then surely her philandering and previous history (4-5 chn??) would have contributed to her sterility in her late 30’s and inability to bear offspring. Clearly he wasn’t firing blanks, given Mme Waleska and others…

    But did Scott do that? I know not- battle scenes as comical as ‘Sharpes’ (which given the petite guerre I don’t moralise about) TV series as reported also. Well, I was lucky to see de Laurentis/ Bondachuk Waterloo in the 70s thanks to High School special viewing, so its a high bar to compare.

    And on that I don’t believe Steiger was overacting- he obviously read the same books I did in his research and N. certainly could be a provocative, testy bugger with nearly everyone who didn’t immediatey cower.

    Anyway, we’ll see… could he have done better? Well, a bit of industry wisdom ___

    cheers -d

    #192936
    Avatar photovtsaogames
    Participant

    I liked it, didn’t love it. Thought Joaquin did OK. I liked his version better than Rod Steiger.

    I don’t expect ever to see a film about Napoleon that really pleases me. Uniforms looked right. And the cannons recoiled.

    It's never too late to have a happy childhood

    #192937
    Avatar photoOldBen1
    Participant

    My two cents for what it is worth . . .

    I thought the movie was pretty dismal.  I feel like the movie wasn’t sure if it should be a love story or a war picture.  Phoenix is usually a good actor, but there really wasn’t much for him to do.  Historical moments were glossed over and major characters simply disappeared from the story.

    The battles were entertaining, although I know absolutely nothing about the time period.

    #192940
    Avatar photovtsaogames
    Participant

    My two cents for what it is worth . . .  I feel like the movie wasn’t sure if it should be a love story or a war picture…

     

    Your two cents is worth about the same as mine, two cents. Love story or war picture…

    I recall seeing the South Pacific film when I was a wee lad. All the singing, and the dames, OK. But I was disappointed when the film ended without so much as a shot fired, just a coast watcher staring up through the trees. A battle scene mixed in with the romance suits me. Gotta have a battle scene.

    It's never too late to have a happy childhood

    #192947
    Avatar photoMartinR
    Participant

    I enjoyed it, although it is very much the story of Napoleon and Josephine. Rather like The Crown, with some war bits thrown in. Having the actress who played Princess Margaret as Josephine added to the impression.

    I liked the uniforms, but the battles had the usual Hollywoodisms: exploding cannon balls, ragged charges, and Waterloo ended up as a Pythonesque brawl in the mud. They weren’t the main focus though.

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    #192949
    Avatar photoPhil Sherlock
    Participant

    I thought it was awful

    Poor acting, weirdly disjointed , bad pacing.

    The initial fight was ok, but the later battles were a disappointment.

    I would have been better of just rewatching Waterloo. Again.

    Today is a good day to diet

    #192951
    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    Anyone that goes to see a film based around real historical events expecting historical accuracy is always going to be disappointed.

    Treat it for what it is, entertainment. Like 99.9% of those who’ve seen it did.

    There was a French woman going mad in The Grauniad last week about the film. In my experience many French people couldn’t give a stuff about the fat Corsican, so why should anyone else care?

     

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    #192952
    Avatar photoOotKust
    Participant

    …Treat it for what it is, entertainment. … In my experience many French people couldn’t give a stuff about the fat Corsican, so why should anyone else care?

    Theres an ‘elite-ism’ and chauvanistic streak amongst the ‘French’ like anyone else.

    IMPE I found French civil society when doing my research there, pretty equally divided between those who admitted N. did well, but fallible; those who were ‘Royalists’  and a smaller proportion who held, they said, no bias one way or another.

    The rest of the country, who knows? They have a hard time with emigrants, and the biases now are worse than ever it seems.

    Once on a deserted Metro platform I was approached by a scruffy young man- who it turned out was an Iranian refugee- despite an inital fear on my part that he maybe was going to attack me- who after an intial French dialogue guessed my English was not British, and explained to me he was a refugee from the overthrown Shahs side of their civil war- all he wanted was any food I could offer- which wasn’t much, a half eaten ‘le sandwich’ of baguette I had from lunch.

    Thus along with him I met two hereditary men, a Prince and a Baron, whos families were still living the ‘Napoleon’ wave…

    As a complete stranger and foreigner from 20.000 kms away I was admitted to some of their inner sanctums once I’d declared my role in being there. They were willing to share their hobbies and collections, a meal or just a drink and some time, showing how much [some ] appreciated my interest in them.

    [ Edit: ] I still eat foie gras, Comte, de chevre and crepes Suzette when I can find a genuine one, and certainly indulge in the best I can find Alsace, Bordeaux, Beaujolais, Loire and Provençal wines- along with other staples- so call me a Francophile for being one!

    -d

    #192953
    Avatar photovtsaogames
    Participant

    Ah, France, a country with two distinctly separate monarchist parties, Bourbons and the Bonaparte parvenus.

     

    I recall Greek nationalists being unhappy about the way Alexander the Great and his relationship with Hephaestion was portrayed in Stone’s opus.

     

    Can’t please everyone.

    It's never too late to have a happy childhood

    #192955
    Avatar photoOldBen1
    Participant

    I know this sounds strange but I felt bad that it was in English.  I would have rather watched it in French.

    #192961
    Avatar photobobm
    Participant

    I genuinely can’t understand why historical character names are introduced into almost entirely fictional films.

    Why the pretence?

    Just make the film you want as fiction and no-one can complain…

    There's 10 types of people in the world. Those who understand binary and those who don't.....

    #192962
    Avatar photoKitfox
    Participant

    Just make the film you want as fiction and no-one can complain…

    If only that were true.  😉

    Death to all fanatics!

    #192963
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish
    Participant

    I guess I’d quite like a ‘historically accurate’ war film – but Napoleon wasn’t all about war was he?

    Quite a bit of legal, educational and societal reform going on – plus a life.

    I reckon for a general release film, if it’s got a chick named Josephine, an Austerlitz and a Mont St Jean (you wanted historical accuracy didn’t you?) you’ve got enough accuracy. The public don’t care about what epaulettes are on show or whether its a shako or a bicorne – and really does it matter for the military reality of what happened? As long as Britain (or Prussia) ended up beating him and he ended his days in exile you’ve got a winner on accuracy terms.

    At least he doesn’t get assassinated by Corsican bandits paid for by the Rothschilds. I might pay to see that version – with Brad Pitt as one of the rogue Brothers Ajaccio.

    I haven’t seen Scott’s version yet – it looks like my son is dragging me to a showing this weekend – I may yet regret my words accepting fiction over fact.

    #192965
    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    I genuinely can’t understand why historical character names are introduced into almost entirely fictional films. Why the pretence? Just make the film you want as fiction and no-one can complain…

    Hard to make a film called Napoleon about Napoleon without a character called Napoleon being in it.

    I suppose you could make a film called “A Film About A War In The Early 19th Century And Its Consequences Upon The Entire Continent Of Asirope” that contained absolutely no historical persons.

    But no-one would go to see it.

     

     

     

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    #192974
    Avatar photoPatrice
    Participant

    Ah, France, a country with two distinctly separate monarchist parties

    Some political commentators mention three traditions in French conservatism:

    – “légitimistes“ (Catholics in the Bourbon tradition, after the fall of Napoléon: kings Louis XVIII and Charles X),

    – “orléanistes“ (economically liberal, king Louis-Philippe who reigned 1830-1848, his father had voted for the death of Louis XVI so the légitimistes did not like him at all. “It was not the French bourgeoisie that ruled under Louis Philippe, but one faction of it: bankers, stock-exchange kings, railway kings, owners of coal and iron“ wrote Marx),

    – “bonapartistes“ who favour a strong man in power.

    It has been said that when a right-wing candidate manages to unite all three around him, as Sarkozy did in the 2007 French presidential election, he has a rather big chance to win, and he did; but he was beaten in 2012. All this may be slowly fading now (?)

     

    http://www.argad-bzh.fr/argad/en.html
    https://www.anargader.net/

    #192976
    Avatar photoOotKust
    Participant

    Ah, France, a country with two distinctly separate monarchist parties

    Some political commentators mention three traditions in French conservatism: – …

    All this may be slowly fading now (?)

    Yes I wasn’t going to pretend I knew it all, so thanks for the enlightenment Patrice.

    In 1984 I met the tail end of the education strikes and protests- emerged one day from a St.Germaine Metro right in the middle of one- boy did I scoot away in a hurry…!

    I’m truly sad to see the polarism and anxiety in a country now that has so much to offer; and so much experience of what good is.

    In Provence I happily ate at cafes full of emigrants and ‘native French’ served by caucasian and migrant staff- all would stop and talk when my French faltered, for which I was grateful.

    -d

    #192977
    Avatar photoMike
    Keymaster

    Any who…    the film.

    #193006
    Avatar photoSkip
    Participant

    Napoleonic Quarterly podcast has a good group therapy episode on the movie

    #193014
    Avatar photoSkip
    Participant

    Honest brutal take down of the movie

    #193016
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish
    Participant

    I’d had my doubts about the film until I heard this review -‘awkward, unnerving, serial killer vibes.’ Sounds like Phoenix nailed Buonaparte.

    We didn’t go this week but I’m quite looking forward to seeing it now.

    #193121
    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    Any who… the film.

    The general public aren’t historians, certainly not Napoleonic Historians*.

    They make up the largest percentage of people who will see the film. Napoleonic ‘experts’ may weep and moan, but if the film puts bums on seats its achieved its objective. Everyone else needs to get over it.

    A peeve of mine is films where electricity keeps arcing across large distances, often for minutes.. Someone needs to tell film makers it doesn’t happen that way. 😀

    *gods save me from Napoleonic Historians

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    #193444

    A couple of my buddies and I went to see Napoleon a week ago.   Here are the highs and lows.

    The good.

    1. The uniforms were really nice as was all the civilian costumes.
    2. Most of the actors really looked a lot like their historical counterparts.  Josephine and Napoleon both looked good as well as who I think was Ney.
    3. The brutality of the period on the battlefield was adequately displayed.
    4. The story of Napoleon and Josephine was actually fairly accurate.
    5. The acting was quite good.

    The Bad

    1. The history was really, really muddled.  They allude to napoleon leaving Egypt because Josephine was fooling around on him.
    2. Several campaigns were left out.  No Italian campaign.  No mention of Spain.  No 1813 or 1814 campaign.  Essentially, Napoleon abdicates after the disaster in Russia.
    3. The battles were largely a mess.  Austerlitz was apparently fought on a frozen lake and all the French army was waiting in ambush to destroy the Russo-Austrian army.
    4. The British at Waterloo were entrenched.   During the cavalry phase of the battle the British leave the earthworks by marching forward and then forming square  because everyone knows that cavalry can easily overrun earthworks.  Did I mention the British marched FORWARD to do this?
    5. The camps were impossibly close to the lines rather than a mile or more away.  Lots of national flags waving over the tents giving it the look of a Medieval tournament more so than the actual battlefield.
    6. The artillery appeared to be 12 pounders or larger.  The “mortars” they used during the siege of Toulon looked like small caliber cannon tipped up on end.  I guess if we showed the world the actual size of the guns used at the time, they would be in disbelief.
    7. Napoleon was cast too old.  If they even cast an actor that was close to that of the actor playing Josephine, it would have been a bit more believable.  Wellington was another curiosity.   The actor did not look like the Duke and was also too old.  Rupert Everett is 64 years old.  Wellington at the time of Waterloo was 46.  Everett does not look anything like Wellington.
    8. Napoleon, AFAIK, never lead a cavalry charge, at least not until this movie.  He was a gunner by trade.  More lazy directing.
    9. I could go on, but I think I’ve given a pretty clear picture on the…um…picture.

    Final thoughts

    1. I did not know that Czar Alexander visited Josephine in 1814.  It seemed to be a cordial visit in the movie.  In real life she begged him to send her to Elbe with her husband.  Learned something!
    2. It is clear to me that Ridley Scott put forth little effort in trying to understand the warfare of the time.  Lazy directing.
    3.  Napoleon’s life would probably be better told through a series rather than a single movie.  The battles were clearly backdrop to a love story.

     

     

    John

    "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

    --Abraham Lincoln

    #193445
    Avatar photoOotKust
    Participant

    BTDT, ok, but only 3/10 from me. They couldn’t even spell his name correctly before the Consulate.

    Lookalikes, no not really- pasty faced pom instead of a tight jawed creole- would have been so easy to find.
    JP just wasn’t… Nor Madame Mere, N. relationship with her was fractious. Pretty sure she never appeared at any ‘social’ gatherings, only close family. Could have given her a Corsican dialect inflection, pretty sure she spoke no French either.

    Anyway thats done, moving on…
    Oh battles? Well Austercraplitz was a farce for so many reasons already exposed and a few more… Waterloo wasn’t on a map in those days AFAIK, and no, there wasn’t an adjacent ‘city’ as shot/ composited…

    Yes composition and linearity deplorable IMO only of course. Again already cited… and flags/ standards- couldn’t get the tyes right to save it; wrong type/ period every time. I note the ‘loyal’ Poles never got horses or lances until the end.

    Name dropping and Brit-facing references here and there annoying etc. To reiterate only 3/10 from me.

    I stayed for the credits and saw no reference to any qualified or named historians, researchers or ‘re-enactment’ types… oh well, when you’re the best…

    I’m guessing Malta enjoyed the interest and experience,

    cheers -D

    #193446
    Avatar photovtsaogames
    Participant

    Re historical accuracy in cinema: rereading my Teutonic Knights history, noted that the Battle of Lake Peipus, AKA the Battle on the Ice had precious few members of the Order present and the ice didn’t break. Won’t stop me from seeing Alexander Nevsky again in the future.

     

    In the early part of the film Nevsky tells his troops that they will deal with the Tatars later. A couple generations later, in fact.

    It's never too late to have a happy childhood

    #193447
    Avatar photoOotKust
    Participant

    I wasn’t expecting 100% fidelity, just not the hash-up that was.

    Seems fiction is easier to replicate from a book than history is. The fashionable ‘ad-hoc scenes’ were fine, the tenor of the times.
    Did Welly go to the Congress of Vienna tho? I’d have to look that up. If he did it would have been as a ‘guest’ not a participant…

    What wasn’t shown were many memorable events, even minor ones, real and well documented, but random fiction dominated.

    Once again, the ‘lakes’ fantasy overplayed ridiculously for ‘effect’- not that the battlefield was even there, yet the facts are much better. And there were no Austrian troops there either. Once again FML (Autrian) Kienmayers troops both skirted the terrain AND rallied back and in safety, just as well as they held off pursuers at various points later. His Division excelled both in the campaign and the battle, not given any cred here.

    -d

    #193448
    Avatar photovtsaogames
    Participant

    Did Welly go to the Congress of Vienna tho?  -d

    That’s something they got right. He was the main British diplomat there after Castlereagh went home. And had been planning on allying with the Austrians and French against Russia and Prussia before Bonaparte escaped and upset the the deal. Bonaparte published the papers from the Congress found in Paris, sort of an early Wikileaks. It explains the hostility some senior Prussian officers had for Wellington.

    It's never too late to have a happy childhood

    #193459
    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    Perhaps he got confused between Austerlitz and Eylau. Easily done…

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    #193461
    Avatar photovtsaogames
    Participant

    Off on a tangent (as usual): Wellington was that rare bird, an effective diplomat and an astute general. His “Iron Duke” nickname was acquired long after his battlefield exploits, when as an arch-conservative Tory, he obstinately blocked any reform legislation. It wasn’t an affectionate term.

    Edit: the term arose after he had iron shutters installed on his London house to ward off rocks and such from rioters.

    Austerlitz? Eylau? All across the Channel, easy to mix up.

    It's never too late to have a happy childhood

    #193471
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish
    Participant

    I suspect you may be doing Wellington a disservice. The riots where the mob attacked Apsley house were prompted by a variety of things – opposition to Parliamentary reform no doubt, but the Catholic Relief Act he piloted through Parliament was not popular with the Ultras and their street thugs and led to unrest against him.

    As you say a tangent, but let it be a fair one.

    #193477
    Avatar photovtsaogames
    Participant

    Yes, the Tories were on the side of Catholic relief. The otherwise reform-minded Whigs were violently anti-Catholic, as were their American cousins, many of them later becoming Republicans after the American Whigs dissolved.

     

    Lincoln’s campaign in 1860 ran against Catholic immigrants (read: Irish) in those states where the (Know-Nothing) American Party had done well previously. Many abolitionists were anti-Catholic. Consistency, eh?

     

    A further aside: an acquaintance once found a list of daily pay scales at a reservoir being built in Manhattan during the Civil War, where the 42nd Street Public Library now stands. Among others, it listed:

    common labor, white  $1.40

    common labor, black   $1.30

    common labor, Italian $1.20

    This at a time when white Union soldiers were being paid $13 monthly to get shot at.

     

    Unfortunately I didn’t make a copy of this pay list. I don’t know where she found it.

    I do recall the highest paid individual was the muck boss, making some 3 or 4 dollars a day.

    It's never too late to have a happy childhood

    #193486
    Avatar photoOotKust
    Participant

    Did Welly go to the Congress of Vienna tho? -d That’s something they got right. He was the main British diplomat there after Castlereagh went home.

    Ok then it was over a decade ago I read it, so my mind isnt what it was…

    #193511
    Avatar photoPaint it Pink
    Participant

    What a fascinating thread, and I mean that most sincerely folks.

    I’ve learnt some stuff about Vienna, and the back and forth over art versus verisimilitude in story telling. Absolutely fascinating.

    For me the question boils down to the question of historical document (authenticity of the message) versus the narrative drive (spectacle of the medium).

    Scott is a director with some great films under his belt: The Duelists, Alien; Blade Runner; Thelma and Loiuse,  Black Hawk Down; The Martian. He’s also done some less great films: Robin Hood; Prometheus and Alien Covenant.

    Either way, I doubt I will go and see the film.

    It’s not romantic enough (romance in the original literary sense of the word) to go for the spectacle of the film For example 300 was pure spectacle, and I loved it warts and all.

    Also, it’s not a period that interests me. And not enough of a historical document to go see it warts and all. For example Gods and Generals.

    So thank you one and all for the thoughtful discussion.

    One is good, more is better
    http://panther6actual.blogspot.co.uk/
    http://ashleyrpollard.blogspot.co.uk/

    #193524

    Perhaps he got confused between Austerlitz and Eylau. Easily done…

    What is this Eylau you speak?  The Prussians didn’t get into it until Waterloo.  Clearly.

    John

    "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

    --Abraham Lincoln

    #193530
    Avatar photovtsaogames
    Participant

    Did Welly go to the Congress of Vienna tho? -d That’s something they got right. He was the main British diplomat there after Castlereagh went home.

    Ok then it was over a decade ago I read it, so my mind isnt what it was…

     

    I find that re-reading books last perused a decade or so so before yields new insights. Or perhaps stuff I just forgot. I look at it as one of the perks of being a senior. Along with half-price entry to the subway.

    It's never too late to have a happy childhood

    #193531
    Avatar photovtsaogames
    Participant

    It ain’t just us.

     

    Watching the streaming series Rome, my artist wife objected when a reporter sketched Pullo in jail. “They didn’t have butcher paper then!”

     

    Even more arcane, we screened Across the Universe for my classical guitarist buddy and he was outraged that the character loosely based on Jimi Hendrix wasn’t playing left-handed. Go figure.

    It's never too late to have a happy childhood

    #193532
    Avatar photoOotKust
    Participant

    I find that re-reading books last perused a decade or so so before yields new insights. Or perhaps stuff I just forgot. I look at it as one of the perks of being a senior. Along with half-price entry to the subway.

    True. My twenty year hiatus including a near to the month decade long diversion into NScale MRR created that.

    A couple of recent ‘deep dives’ have uncovered accuracies I thought, I didn’t know about! But there on the shelf (now far better organised than ever before…)

    “The Gamble” was the most enlightening, on a campaign I’ve all but suppressed mentally [ so did you know who…- required filmological content ] – however a gaming pal made a 1796 28mm Austrian army (Eureka figures) so I’ve loaned it to him.

    Yes ditto, our govt. gives us ‘free’ public transport- which unless in a time of abstract congestion, is nearly useless as they dont go where I am headed… sigh…!
    -d

Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 40 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.