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 ... See full summary »

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Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 3 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »
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Series cast summary:
 Joseph Fouché 4 episodes, 2002
Ennio Fantastichini ...
 Hortense 4 episodes, 2002
Alain Doutey ...
 Maréchal Ney 4 episodes, 2002
André Oumansky ...
Jacques Brunet ...
 Roger-Ducos 4 episodes, 2002
Jean-Gabriel Nordmann ...
 Roederer 4 episodes, 2002
Sylvain Corthay ...
 Dr. Corvisard 4 episodes, 2002
David Francis ...
Florence Darel ...
 Madame Récamier 4 episodes, 2002
Alain Teulié ...
 Hippolyte Charles 4 episodes, 2002
Michel Ouimet ...
 Docteur Ivan 4 episodes, 2002
Philip Lenkowsky ...
 Cipriani 4 episodes, 2002
Tom Rack ...
 Pêcheur 4 episodes, 2002
Geneviève Grandbois ...
 Femme pêcheur 4 episodes, 2002
Patrick Bordier ...
 Vétéran 4 episodes, 2002
 Geoffroy St-Hilaire 4 episodes, 2002
Benjamin Sacks ...
 Jeune soldat pestiféré 4 episodes, 2002
Emmanuel Karsen ...
 Soldat hôpital 4 episodes, 2002
Deborah Rudetzki ...
Grégoire Bonnet ...
Laurence Margerie ...
Constance Dollé ...
Tomas Jaka ...
 Grenadier blessé St-Cloud 4 episodes, 2002
Laurent Larcher ...
 Soldat St-Cloud 4 episodes, 2002
Tristan Lignier ...
 Officier Tuileries 4 episodes, 2002
Grégoire Vigneron ...
 Laquais Tuileries 4 episodes, 2002
Bruce McEwen ...
 Estafette Tuileries 4 episodes, 2002
Lee Michelsen ...
 Huissier Tuileries 4 episodes, 2002
Mark Reed-Klevberg ...
 Secrétaire Bonaparte 4 episodes, 2002
László Görög ...
Andrew Hefler ...
 Estafette blessé Danube 4 episodes, 2002
Doug Rand ...
Mike Dineen ...
Zsolt Zágoni ...
 Adjudant Vincennes 4 episodes, 2002
Stéphane Bourquin ...
 Officier Fontainebleau 4 episodes, 2002
Shawn Howard ...
 Ordonnance Fontainebleau 4 episodes, 2002
Christian Abomnes ...
 Ordonnance Hudson Lowe 4 episodes, 2002
Patrick Albenque ...
 Policier 4 episodes, 2002
François-Xavier Anseaume ...
 Architecte 4 episodes, 2002
Peter Bartfay ...
Václav Chalupa ...
Leslie Clack ...
 Dignitaire 4 episodes, 2002
Julie du Page ...
 Jeune femme palais Erfurt 4 episodes, 2002
Bill Dunn ...
 Dignitaire 4 episodes, 2002
Couy Griffin ...
 Aide de camp église 4 episodes, 2002
Richard Harris-Temple ...
 Policier 4 episodes, 2002
Zoltán Karácsony Pulika ...
 Cavalier ferme 4 episodes, 2002
Curtis Matthews ...
 Officier QG Barras 4 episodes, 2002
Franck Neckebrock
Tibor Pintér ...
 Aide de camp 4 episodes, 2002
Gerard Whelan ...
 Officier Ettenheim 4 episodes, 2002
 Klemens Metternich 2 episodes, 2002
Mavie Hörbiger ...
 Marie-Louise d'Autriche 2 episodes, 2002
Roc LaFortune ...
 Marchand 2 episodes, 2002
Léopoldine Serre ...
 Petite fille attentat 2 episodes, 2002
Andy Cam ...
 Homme attentat 2 episodes, 2002
 Policier rue St-Nicaise 2 episodes, 2002
Jerry Di Giacomo ...
 Fuyard St-Nicaise 2 episodes, 2002


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 Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


An epic life. See more »


See all certifications »


Official Sites:



Release Date:

17 September 2002 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Napoleon  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


€41,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(4 parts) | (DVD edition)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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 »


British Officer: He won't open if you call him General, Sir. He insists on being called by his title.
Hudson Lowe: Title? Emperor? Majesty? Poppycock. He's Bony the Ogre, and always will be. Knock again!
See more »


References Le souper (1992) See more »


Vers L'Egypte (Towards Egypt)
Written by Richard Grégoire
Performed by Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra-Sif 309
Courtesy of Virgin Classics
See more »

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User Reviews

Well, at least it's accurate!
22 April 2003 | by (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

I admit I found it a little hard to stomach Christian Clavier (Jacquouille la Fripouille from « Les Visiteurs » and Astérix from the Astérix films) as Napoléon, especially when that role has been interpreted in English by the likes of Marlon Brando, Charles Boyer, Herbert Lom and Rod Steiger and in French, by the likes of Albert Dieudonné, Daniel Gélin, Sacha Guitry, Raymond Pellegrin and Jean-Louis Barrault. Because of all those famous precedents, one has come to expect in the role a kind of forceful but graceful personality. Clavier plays him a little bit on the educated warthog side, but that's OK because so did Marlon Brando.

IMDb users seem to hate this TV movie for all the wrong reasons. It can't be faulted for historical accuracy. There is every indication that almost every single word spoken in this script was actually said by the protagonists. And here is at least one English-language movie that doesn't show Napoléon's soldiers taking aim at the Sphinx's nose for target practice (an English myth). The sets and costumes are magnificent. The action is a little simplified for my taste but it allows the viewer a more unencumbered comprehension of the timeline. I have seen many French movies that naturally expect their French audience to know all the dates and the battles by heart and take it from there, so to speak. I am sure that the DVD version, which is longer, will reconcile many critics with scenes that seemed a little too short on TV.

I only noticed two major goofs in the whole four hours. John Malkovitch seems to think he is too great an actor to accept suggestions as to the pronunciation of French names, either from his co-stars or from a French coach, which must be responsible for his coasting through every possible phonetic permutation of the words 'Duc d'Enghien' in the course of an hour, some of them successful. Also, the same character warns Joséphine not to go to Poland before Napoléon has even met Marie Waleska, which is mysterious indeed. Did he actually know they would meet and fall in love?

But, all in all, it is a magnificent effort in a TV series, one that is not without its artistic and poetic merits.

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