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Napoleon Conquers Europe: A Ridley Scott Interpretation

Napoleon Movie Poster by IMDB.
Napoleon Movie Poster by IMDB.

Ridley Scott introduced his $200 million production of “Napleon” as a historical epic to theaters on Nov. 22 with Joaquin Phoenix starring as the protagonist. His shortened version of two-and-a-half hours hit theaters with a directors cut of four hours intended for release on Apple TV in 2024. 

Many aspects about Scott’s interpretation is historically inaccurate: Napoleon had not commanded his army to fire at the Egyptian pyramids, Napoleon did not attend Marie Antoinette’s guillotine procedure, and Napoleon did not organize his army with the military tactics shown in the battle scenes (Murray).

Scott intended this to be associated to an epic rather than a documentary, so understandably small details may not be true to history. Despite it being an epic, the disrespect goes farther than historical inaccuracy.

Napoleon is portrayed as a hilarious brute, a dictatorial leader infected by hubris. Assumably, suggestions have been made that the film was made under the impression of British propaganda that viewed him as a “Corsican ruffian”. A series of intimate scenes humiliated his public image in his expressions made toward Josephine, his wife. 

Furthermore, the historical epic did not fulfill intentions because it ended up being viewed as a comedy rather than an action movie. Although it consisted of an intense opening of beheading, fierce action scenes in the battlefield, and pristine emotional resonance, the movie managed to work up laughter among the audience instead of people on the edge of their seats in excitement.

As an Apple-original film, the visuals were vigorous. The acting was incredibly performed too. But, the inaccuracies and imperfections really imprinted a bad repertoire on Scott’s epic.

Murray, Tom. “Dan Snow Breaks down Historical Inaccuracies in Ridley Scott’s Napoleon Trailer.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 13 July 2023,


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Stephen Wells
Stephen Wells, Arts & Style Editor
Senior Stephen Wells is a 3rd year reporter who avidly authors ‘film-bro’ movie reviews and edits arts and styles articles during Rockbridge’s Prowler class. Wells is attempting to make an imprint on the school’s football team. Aside from a misunderstanding of story ideas (totally acceptable to write a movie review instead of an assigned article), he is nothing short of a determined, intelligent, and dedicated writer. Due to his knowledge on many sports, from observing and participating in them, he is the perfect candidate for sports reviews too! Overall, if a person were to choose their favorite Prowler reporter, it would undoubtedly be indubitably be Wells.

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