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
In July 2003 dollars, the film costs $46,330,000 to make. 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 »
Man was given speech to disguise his thoughts, and words to disguise his eyes. Don't trust anything, or anyone.
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Shot simultaneously in French and English. For the French version, the French actors spoke in French, the rest recited their dialogues in English and were later dubbed by other actors. For the English version, the French actors repeated the same shots reciting the dialogues in English. See more »
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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