The year is 1816, and Napoleon, held prisoner by the British on the island of St. Helena, is telling the young English girl Betsy his life story. His meteoric rise to military prominence ...
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The scene is set during the French Restoration at the beginning of the 19th century. Jean Valjean, a galley slave who was sent to prison for stealing food, is now released after serving ... See full summary »
When Louis XVI summoned the Etats-Generaux he unleashes a revolution that would change his country and cost his life. This is the story of one of the crucial points in the history of France, and Europe, divided into two parts.
Richard T. Heffron
Klaus Maria Brandauer,
The year is 1816, and Napoleon, held prisoner by the British on the island of St. Helena, is telling the young English girl Betsy his life story. His meteoric rise to military prominence begins with his victory over the Royalists in 1795, which is followed by campaigns in Italy and Egypt. He marries the young and capricious Josephine de Beauharnais, the love of his life, who unfortunately cannot bear him any children. After a coup d'état he seizes power in France and crowns himself Emperor of the French in 1804. After his decisive victory at Austerlitz, Napoleon reorganizes Europe and makes his relatives into princes and kings. Continuing resistance by the Spanish results in some initial losses, however. Meanwhile, Napoleon is increasingly fascinated by other women, including the Polish patriot Maria Walewska, who bears him a son. Napoleon intends to found an imperial dynasty, however, to strengthen his position. After divorcing Josephine, he marries the Austrian princess Marie-Luise,... Written by
The series was shot simultaneously in French and English, thus two versions exist, with the exact same actors and near-identical edits, but a different original language. See more »
All the battle scenes, intended to be a highlight of the series with significant numbers of soldiers presented, oddly and inaccurately show soldiers advancing slowly in short half-steps when in reality they marched at full stride. See more »
Maréchal Joachim Murat:
The road to Namur.
Perfect. The Pope will think we've run into him totally by chance. I cannot let him imagine that I would make an effort to meet him. I owe him no more respect than to any petty little king.
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On the plus side: the costumes and interiors are magnificent, Isabella Rossellini is good as Josephine, the historical events depicted are presented accurately, and the series gets better as it goes along (don't give up after the muddled first episode!).
On the minus side: we never really get a feel for what Napoleon actually stood for or why and how he was such a military genius, the film dwells on his private life when it could be dealing with the huge social and political issues of the time, the actors playing some of the secondary characters are laughably bad (Murat, Ney, Marie-Louise), and one has to strain to hear the dialogue (due to the foreign accents, background noise and music).
As for Christian Clavier, it's amazing how the comments on his performance stretch from "brilliant" to "trash." My own view is that he was off the mark as the younger Napoleon, but as the mature Napoleon had basically the right look and plenty of gravitas.
A good contribution to the body of film about the Emperor but also full of flaws.
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