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  • Writer's pictureStephen Yanni

🏆 Napoleon (2023) - The Rise and Fall of an Icon: A Cinematic March Through History.

Updated: Mar 5

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5 stars)

Released 09-08-2023

Watched 03-03-2024

Reviewed 03-05-2024

Watched on Apple TV+

"I found the crown of France in the gutter. I picked it up with the tip of my sword and cleaned it, and placed it atop my own head."

Ridley Scott's "Napoleon" is an ambitious epic that brings the tumultuous life of one of history's most enigmatic leaders to the big screen. Starring Joaquin Phoenix as the titular character and Vanessa Kirby as his beloved Joséphine, the film attempts to weave a grand tapestry of love, power, and ambition against the backdrop of revolutionary and Napoleonic France.

Phoenix delivers a compelling performance, embodying the complexities of Napoleon Bonaparte with an intensity that captures the viewer's attention. Kirby, as Joséphine, complements this with a nuanced portrayal that adds depth to their turbulent relationship. The chemistry between the leads, along with Scott's penchant for grandiose set pieces, particularly in the battle sequences, provides some of the film's most riveting moments.

The film's ambition to cover extensive historical ground sometimes results in a narrative that feels superficial, glossing over the intricacies of political and personal dilemmas. While the battle scenes are visually stunning, thanks to the work of cinematographer Dariusz Wolski and editor Claire Simpson, they occasionally overshadow the human drama at the film's core.

A notable point of contention is the film's historical inaccuracies, which might distract viewers well-versed in the period. Additionally, the inclusion of certain graphic scenes, presumably intended to add a layer of realism and rawness, often comes off as unnecessary and detracts from the historical narrative's potency.

At its heart, "Napoleon" is a film of contrasts—between the grandeur of its battle scenes and the intimacy of its personal moments, between the towering figure of history and the man behind the legend. While Ridley Scott's vision is evident in every frame, the film struggles to balance these elements, resulting in a viewing experience that is as fragmented as it is fascinating.

In conclusion, "Napoleon" is a film that dazzles and disappoints in equal measure. It's a visual feast with standout performances, particularly from Phoenix, but its narrative pacing and historical liberties might leave some audiences wanting. It's a film worth watching for its sheer ambition and the glimpses of brilliance that shine through its imperfections, earning it a solid three stars.


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