Documentary about the rise and fall of one of the greatest military geniuses of modern times from his Corsican childhood to final exile in St. Helena.
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1  
2000  
3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Series cast summary:
David McCullough ...
 Narrator (4 episodes, 2000)
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Storyline

Born in 1769 to a poor but aristocratic Corsican patriot family, 6 year old Napolon Bonaparte is enrolled in a French academy, where his military career begins. His capabilities are amply demonstrated with a series of dazzling victories in Revolutionary France's Italian campaign. He becomes obsessed with and marries Josephine, a widow, and begins a meteoric rise to power. He gradually compromises his egalitarian ideals and crowns himself emperor in 1804. After he establishes himself as master of Europe with victories in battles like Austerlitz and diplomatic alliances, he embarks on a series of decisions that mark his decline and fall: an ill-advised occupation of Spain, his divorce of Josephine and marriage into the Hapsburg family, and his disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812. After a failed attempt to return to power culminating in final defeat at Waterloo in 1815, he spends his remaining years defining his legacy with his memoirs. Written by Gabe Taverney (duke1029@aol.com)

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2000 (USA)  »

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Empires: Napoleon  »

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Trivia

Battle scenes were shot in France with military re-enactors from 10 European countries. See more »

Soundtracks

Vivat
from "Messe du Sacre de Napoleon"
Written by Jean-Francois Le Sueur
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User Reviews

 
Nearly perfect...
26 November 2011 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

This has to be the best or among the best films about Napoleon. However, it's not quite perfect. Most of this is because at about 3 1/2 hours (not 240 minutes as is listed on IMDb), it's just not long enough or complete enough. What I mean by this is that considering what a HUGE impact he had on the world for a 20 year period, this just isn't enough time. In particular, his impact on Europe BEYOND his reign was never discussed--and deserves mention. In addition, it makes one common mistake--saying Napoleon was only 5'2" (a common myth) when he was actually about 5'7"--a very average height for this time period. But aside from this, it's exceptional throughout.

Like so many of PBS's documentaries, this one is narrated by the historian, David McCullough. And, like these documentaries, it's full of interviews with various historians, paintings and recreations. However, unlike a typical PBS film, this one must have cost a fortune to make, as much of it was filmed in Europe--with Russian and French participants (among others). It's pretty, fascinating and compelling--even for those who are not huge history lovers. Well worth seeing.

By the way, one part of the film I found especially compelling was about Napoleon's Corsican roots. Apparently, he grew up HATING France, as this nation had conquered Corsica and forced it to become a part of their empire. In addition, when Napoleon went to the French military academy, he was looked down up for being Corsican. Could this explain how Napoleon was so willing to see so many French soldiers die for him? In other words, he was happy if his soldiers won but not all that sad to see them die either because of these early experiences.


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