Napoleon may not be a masterpiece, but it is certainly worth watching

"Napoleon" does not focus only on the emperor's military conquests, in the film there is a significant amount of research into the emperor's private life

by Sededin Dedovic
Napoleon may not be a masterpiece, but it is certainly worth watching
© Apple TV / Youtube channel

Ridley Scott's Napoleon, a visually stunning historical drama, explores the life and reign of the enigmatic French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Joaquin Phoenix delivers a captivating performance as the ambitious and complex leader, while Vanessa Kirby portrays Josephine, his enigmatic wife who plays a key role in his story.
The film has been announced for a long time, and even before its premiere, it attracted a lot of attention and criticism from the French public due to its authenticity.

The film opens against the backdrop of revolutionary France, a nation struggling with political upheaval and social unrest. Scott masterfully captures this atmosphere of chaos and uncertainty, placing Napoleon center stage as he navigates the treacherous waters of ambition.

The Phoenix embodies the emperor's duality—his unwavering determination and strategic brilliance interspersed with moments of vulnerability and deep-seated insecurity. In addition to the politics being deliberately obscured because they were, most of these characters are largely irrelevant to the story, except for how Napoleon perceives them.

In other words, what could have been a confusing history lesson takes on a different focus and meaning, simply because Scott and Scarpa are so fixated on their protagonist.

unknown© Apple TV / Youtube channel

"Napoleon" does not focus only on the emperor's military conquests.

It sheds light on his oft-overlooked relationship with Josephine, the woman who offered him comfort and support in the whirlwind of his career. Scarpa's screenplay delves into the complexities of their relationship, showing how Josephine's presence was a counterbalance to Napoleon's relentless pursuit of power.

The pair's tumultuous relationship is, in some ways, the heart of the story, if only because it shows how such a sweeping desire of Napoleon's can so easily be dismissed when it comes into conflict with something more pressing and present—such as the birth of an heir to see his reign as more legitimate.

Kirby's nuanced portrayal adds depth and emotional resonance to their connection, making him the heart of the film. Therefore, he distances himself from a mere war action film and focuses part of his attention on the emotional pressure that Napoleon had during the conquest.

But don't worry because Napoleon's military genius was not overlooked. Scott brings legendary battles to life with breathtaking visuals and meticulous attention to detail. These action sequences are not just spectacles; they illuminate Napoleon's strategic vision and leadership style, showing his brilliance on the battlefield.

However, the film goes beyond glorifying war, hinting at the human cost and burden of leadership. There were some illogicalities with some of the battle recordings, but we won't talk about that, because they are battle recordings.

"Napoleon" does not shy away from depicting the emperor's flaws and vulnerabilities. His insecurities and need for validation are explored through his interactions with other characters. The film also acknowledges his mistakes and failures, such as the disastrous invasion of Russia.

This balanced portrayal avoids hero worship and makes Napoleon a more fluid and intriguing figure. The film goes beyond the confines of a historical biopic, encouraging viewers to think about broader questions about leadership and power.

It invites us to examine the fine line between ambition and dominance, questioning the cost of achieving greatness. So if you thought it was just another historical film with a lot of battles and blood, you were not wrong, but the film is much deeper, even though it suffered mostly bad reviews due to too much expectation.

These themes resonate with contemporary audiences, making "Napoleon" relevant far beyond its historical setting. Although this movie started furiously, after an hour the action started to slow down a bit, which was the biggest flaw of the movie.

Although "Napoleon" has been praised for its visual brilliance, compelling performances and thought-provoking themes, it has not escaped criticism. Some point to the lack of depth in certain parts of the narrative and the disconnection with the emotions of the characters.

Others argue that the film focuses too much on Napoleon's individual perspective, ignoring the larger context of the political and social landscape. Despite these criticisms, "Napoleon" remains an outstanding cinematic achievement.

It offers a fascinating exploration of a complex historical figure, providing a platform for reflection on the timeless themes of power, leadership and the human condition. While it's not without its flaws, the film's strengths outweigh them, leaving a lasting impression on viewers long after the show has started.

Don't be fooled by the reviews, give this movie a chance at least for the entertainment that is guaranteed. While not perfect, "Napoleon" remains a worthy addition to the historical film canon, offering a nuanced and engaging portrait of a legendary figure.