Review of Napoleon (2023)

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Review of Napoleon (2023)

Post by sharoma »

Here is a short review of Napoleon (2023), which I saw last night.

The art of making films, especially epics, has been lost. This was a complete waste of money ($130-200 million!) as it offered almost nothing other than a couple of decent visuals. Here are just a few of the notable errors or areas in which it was lacking:

1) Napoleon was famous for his maxims. We heard none. Napoleon’s dialogue was atrocious, boring, and completely forgettable.
2) No character development for Joséphine. She was cardboard the entire film.
3) The accents and choice of actors was an insult to the French. In the opening sequence the French troops sound like the British ones.
4) No mention of Nelson, the Battle of the Nile (1798), or Trafalgar (1805), despite these events being very significant in the career of Napoleon and fortunes of Imperial France.
5) It showed Napoleon in Egypt fondling a mummy but didn’t show the discovery of the Rosetta Stone.
6) No mention of the Battle of Leipzig (1813), the largest battle in Europe prior to World War 1. No mention of the final battles Napoleon fought against the Sixth Coalition.
7) Waterloo: the campaign didn’t develop the way the film portrays. Napoleon didn’t ‘select’ Waterloo in advance. Wellington selected it after it became clear Brussels and the junction of the Anglo-allied armies was threatened. Waterloo also wasn’t where the battle took place (it was Mont Saint-Jean, after which the French named the battle) and nor would it be featured so prominently on the map Napoleon was using as it was a relatively unknown village. The Prussians called the battle La Belle Alliance (the pub which Napoleon selected for his HQ, it also means ‘the beautiful alliance’). It was only known as the Battle of Waterloo later on. No mention of the details of the ‘Hundred Days’ nor the preludes to Waterloo, such as the battles at Wavre and Quatre Bras. The battle itself missed out a lot, such as the actions around Hougoumont and La Haye Sainte. It also mixed up the order of the British cavalry charge (the famous Scots Greys), portraying it as happening victoriously at the end when in reality the charge was repulsed earlier in the battle. Finally, it showed Napoleon fighting on horseback which did not happen.
8) The characterization of Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, was one dimensional and taught nothing. No mention of his brilliance in Spain or the affect the French defeat there had on the fortunes of Napoleonic France.
9) The casualty figures at the end suggest that three million deaths are all Napoleon’s fault, when in reality all the European powers were involved in these wars.
10) No mention of how Napoleon actually died on St. Helena.

One positive: at times the visuals were impressive. Although gruesome, when cannon was fired at the protesting crowd, the special effects were something an episode of Sharpe could only dream of. Likewise, when the British infantry squares were forming at Waterloo, it looked impressive.

Waterloo (1970), starring Rod Steiger as Napoleon, does a much better job both in its characterization of Napoleon and the events of the battle itself.

Rating: 2/10
Robin Sharrock
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Re: Review of Napoleon (2023)

Post by Sycorax »

My personal favourite part of this atrocity was the line "Destiny brought me this lambchop".
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