Despite what it may look like in the trailer, ‘Napoleon’ is not the spectacle-filled action epic that it promises to be, instead boasting stark historical inaccuracies, and enough pacing issues to leave even the keenest viewers bored and confused.
Based on the story of Napoleon Bonaparte, ‘Napoleon’ looks at the military commander’s origins and climb to emperor, starting with the beheading of Queen Marie Antoinette in 1793, and ending with his death in 1821.
One of the most significant issues with the film is an obvious one – it’s not easy to fit decades of history into just over two-and-a-half hours.
Because of this, major battles became minor, and characters who would have been significant in Napoleon’s real life were diminished to cameos, making it difficult for those going into the film without having done some prior reading to keep up with the plot.
This is only exemplified by the film’s lack of focus. Though it is primarily described as portrayal of Napoleon’s rise to power, the only main characters were him and his wife, Josephine.
However, even their story lacks dimension, with the film instead providing a romanticised, Bridgerton-esque depiction of what was realistically a chequered relationship, plagued by a yearning for power on both fronts, and an age gap that it neglects to mention.
And, this isn’t the only thing ‘Napoleon’ got wrong. Though my own knowledge of the period stops at the end of the French Revolution, the film has received many harsh criticisms for its historical inaccuracies.
Even if you’re someone who doesn’t know a lot about Napoleon, or is willing to overlook these flaws, ‘Napoleon’ is still not a film I’d recommend, with an underwhelming performance from Joaquin Phoenix, and visuals and a score that were good, but no better than what you’d expect from a film of this genre and budget.
See this movie at Hoyts Penrith.
Cassidy Pearce is a news and entertainment journalist with The Western Weekender. A graduate of the University of Technology Sydney, she has previously worked with Good Morning Macarthur and joined the Weekender in 2022.