Napoleon: the film coming out at the cinema with Joaquin Phoenix

by Irene Noli

Il November 23 comes out in theaters around the world ‘Napoleon’directed by the great Ridley Scott and played by Joaquin Phoenixin the role of first emperor French. In the USA and precisely in France will be screened a day earlier, while on the platform Apple TV+ will be available shortly, in the version director’s cut long over 4 hours. There were many expectations, although naturally there was no shortage of… preventive criticism.

The choice of Joaquin Phoenix

Scott revealed to the a few months ago magazine ‘Empire’ to have chosen Joaquin Phoenix for this epic role after seeing his amazing performance in the film ‘Joker’which he earned l’Oscar as best actor in 2020:

I didn’t like the way it celebrated violence, but Joaquin was amazing. I thought he would be a tremendous asset to Napoleon, even in a commercial sense. There were only two actors I had in mind for the role. I won’t mention the other one (R. Scott)

A couple of weeks before the start of filming however, the chosen one called him taken from panic, almost uncomfortable with the script. She needed it to deepen the identity of Bonaparte, so Scott sat down at the table with him and for about ten days they went over everything again, page after page, scene after scene. The actor forced him to one full review of the script, a complete rewriting compared to the one created in the planning phase, constantly questioning the deepest motivations of the actor’s actionsNapoleon man. Together, they analyzed her life in great detail and in particular her relationship with Josephine de Beauharnais. The final result satisfied everyone, without even weighing on the director, who considers Phoenix “the most special and thoughtful actor” he has ever worked with and considers thatin-depth analysis a plus incredibly constructive for the movie. In turn, Joaquin Phoenix passionately recalled his experience on the set of ‘Gladiator’in which he played thethe emperor Commodus:

It was my first major production. I really liked the idea of ​​undertaking this new project with Ridley (J. Phoenix)

The Bonaparte biopic traces the life of the emperor from great battles to his relationship with his first wife, Joséphine de Beauharnais and her intricate dynamics of their love. Phoenix and Vanessa Kirbyinterpreter of the Empress Consort, have signed a precise agreementgiving each other permission to freely perform whatever gesture or action they could surprise the other – from the kiss to the slap – for explore each areaeven the darkest, ed avoid the cliché of costume drama.

The controversial figure of Napoleon

I compare Napoleon to Alexander the Great, Adolf Hitler or Stalin… He has a lot of problems behind him (R. Scott)

Naturally this phrase by Ridley Scott triggered the reactions of the Frenchwho tried from many quarters to tone down the British director’s comment by claiming that, unlike Hitler and Stalin, the Corsican general was also constructing and not only destroyed it and made France a better country meritocraticthanks to the many reforms and innovations. It is true that he also fought a series of bloody wars in all Europato found his boundless empire, a empire which extended from the Iberian Peninsula to Moscow. On the other hand, the film is also perfectly in line, exploring precisely thecharacter ambivalencebetween intimacy, victories and horrors perpetrated.

The historical controversies

Facing an imposing character like Napoleon Bonaparte on the big screen is one wager risky for the many historical events that concern him. Questioned by New Yorker on the immense preparation work, Ridley Scott has hardened against criticism expressed by some historiansespecially from And Snowa popularizer who attacked him on TikTok for three trailer inconsistencies: that Napoleon would never have fired a cannon at a monument like these pyramidsThat Maria Antonietta he didn’t have long hair during his run and that Bonaparte he had not witnessed it at all. The director simply replied to him to “get a life”, therefore to make better use of his time instead of quibbling. Joaquin Phoenix had already thought about defending his titanic work Empireaccording to which the film is not just objectivity (that’s what history books are for), but a personal point of view on the life of Napoleon, “seen through Ridley’s eyes”. On the other hand, Scott has shot in just 62 dayswhen he would normally have requested 110:

…Every department has to be able to keep up with my speed. Actors don’t want to hear the life story before every take. I discovered it early (…) You have to know the geometry of the scene, otherwise it will be three in the afternoon before it starts… (R. Scott)

The passion of Ridley Scott

Director, multiple Oscar nomineerevealed that the film was born from her adoration for Francebecause he has always loved the lifestyle of his people, and has never forgotten their French summers. He even owns a office in Paris: in his debut, ‘The Duelists’ (1977), Napoleon already hovered throughout the film, although absent. This film promises to be a spectacular fresco about the rise and fall of Napoleonalthough the director of ‘Alien’, ‘Blade Runner’, ‘Thelma & Louise’commented bitterly:

…I haven’t received an Oscar yet, and if I ever receive one, I will say: ‘It’s about time’ (R. Scott)

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