When Ridley Scott goes epic, it means epic. The director of The Duellists, Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven is evidently well-versed in translating jaw-dropping sights onto the screen, sights that either relate to our own chequered human history or imagine a dazzling dystopian future.
For his new movie, Napoleon, Scott is very much fashioning a sweeping drama of the down-to-earth kind. He's paired with Gladiator star and Joker Oscar winner Joaquin Phoenix to bring us the life story of Napoleon Bonaparte, the most famous leader and military commander in French history. We trace the ambitious and ruthless Napoleon, played by the always-intense Phoenix, from his early campaign days in Egypt to his disastrous engagement on the Russian front and his eventual marriage to Empress Josephine (played by Vanessa Kirby).
Fittingly enough, for a movie that begins in the gory, glory days of the French Revolution and ranges through to the early 19th century, there are countless opportunities for Scott to unleash his penchant for world-building and grandiose storytelling. Here are some behind-the-scenes extracts teasing the movie's ambition.
Scott's capacity for practical sets and immersive landscapes is well-renowned, from the nightmarish city-scape of Blade Runner to the seamless CG/practical mixture of the Colosseum in Gladiator. Little wonder that the veteran filmmaker describes Napoleon as "real filmmaking", in which the blood, sweat and tears behind the scenes promise to leak vicariously through the screen.
Here's a rundown from Scott's point of view on what to expect from Napoleon.
The wide-ranging influence and vacillating success of Napoleon's campaigns, including his much-documented defeat against the British at Waterloo, has helped inform the cultural landscape of the European continent. It takes a brave actor of Phoenix's caliber to take on such a famous figure and invest him with grace notes of humanity beyond what many of us have read in school text books.
Here's a clip detailing Napoleon's "unique genius", which is an epithet that can surely be ascribed to Phoenix himself.
Find out more about Empress Josephine
Oscar nominee Vanessa Kirby portrays Napoleon's wife Empress Josephine and the movie explores the influence she had on him. Watch the following extract to discover more about her.
Both history buffs and Napoleon newbies are surely now anticipating one of the winter's biggest movie releases. Napoleon is due for release on November 22nd.
Is Napoleon going to be in contention for next year's Oscars? Check out our ongoing Oscars 2024 coverage and stay tuned to the front-runners.