This Friday, November 24, it hits theaters ‘Napoleon‘, film directed by Ridley Scott which recreates the rise and fall of the French leader who managed to conquer half of Europe. A film starring Joaquin Phoenix and that has already generated controversy in France where some media and historians have harshly criticized the film for its alleged lack of historical rigor and for offering, in his opinion, an anti-French and very pro-British vision of that belligerent first half of the 19th century.
“That’s absolute bullshit.“Scott responds vehemently in an interview with Europa Press when asked about these criticisms.”There will always be historians who say this, but what they don’t want to talk about is that more than 2,500 books have been written about the figure of Bonaparte. “That means there is a lot of speculation and different visions, which also implies a lack of rigor,” Scott points out that he assures that, when writing a book and also making films, you create “with the intention of making your work interesting” which makes it “easy to separate something from the truth.”
“You have to try to ‘translate’ the truth or create your own truth. So the question is: Of those two thousand or so books… how many are really rigorous?” Scott says that, taking this into account, he based his research for the film “only on the pictures.”The paintings are photographs of the time“proclaims the director of ‘Blade Runner’, ‘Thelma & Louise’ or ‘Black Hawk Down’ who claims that he has obtained more and better information in the paintings about 19th century Europe “than by reading the written word.”
ABSENCE OF SPAIN AND ASSEMBLY OF THE DIRECTOR
Vehement plea in favor of paintings and iconographic art as a notary of a time that Scott makes in an ideal setting, the Jerónimos Cloister of the Prado Museum, which was precisely destroyed by Napoleonic troops during the War of Independence. “You can’t conquer them all“, he simply says with a smile when referring to the lack of presence of Spain and its occupation by Napoleonic forces, with the reign of Joseph Bonaparte between 1808 and 1813in the editing of the film that will be released in theaters.
A version, the one that hits theaters this Friday, is 147 minutes long, almost two hours shorter than the initial cut of ‘Napoleón’, which can be seen streaming on Apple TV+ next year, and which exceeded four hours. “It’s always like that now. The first cut of anything is usually very long, but I’m in a position where, as a director, I always have the final say on the final cut. It’s been that way for 20 years. So what is released is what I want to be released.“remarks Scott, who explains that when it came to cutting his film for theatrical release, he asked himself one question: “Am I telling a story or am I already boring the audience?”
““You have to be aware that you can’t make a film that’s too long and I’m the one who has to judge.”Scott proclaims that he assures that this more than four-hour director’s version of ‘Napoleon’ is “perfect” for streaming and watching at home. “You can stop it, go get a beer and come back. That’s something you can’t do in the movies,” he notes.
PHOENIX WAS ALWAYS THEIR NAPOLEON
Regarding the choice of his leading actor, a Joaquin Phoenix who already sounds like one of the favorites for the Oscars for this work, Scott assures that he “always” had him in mind as his Napoleon. “Firstly, because he looks very similar physically and then because he is one of the best in the world.“explains the filmmaker and then recalls that he had “a great experience” directing him in ‘Gladiator’, where Phoenix already played another emperor, in this case of the Roman Empire, Commodus.
“And the way I see it, when you are going to film ‘Napoleon’ and you ask yourself who can do it… the truth is that you are very limited, the list is very short. Then I could only think of Joaquin because he looks like him and, most importantly, because he could face the challenge“, he says, praising the figure of the actor, winner of the Oscar for ‘Joker’ in 2019.
Along with Phoenix as Napoleon Bonaporte and Vanessa Kirby like his lover, wife and obsession Josefina, names like Tahar Rahim who plays Paul Barras, Ben Miles that my life was in Caulaincourt, Mark Bonnar like Jnot, Rupert Everett like the Duke of Wellington Youssef Kerkour that da vida to Marshal Davout.