Napoleon - Ridley Scott's film with Joaquin Phoenix

Started by Immortan Jonesy, Oct 14, 2020, 08:31:32 PM

Napoleon - Ridley Scott's film with Joaquin Phoenix (Read 61,719 times)

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I figured Ridley always styled himself after Arthur Wellesley, better known as The Duke of Wellington who was ultimately Napoleon's nemises.

For the record, the Russians did what they do best and were always marching backwards as Napoleon's army advanced. They also employed a scorched earth policy like they are now doing in Ukraine when forced to fall back. The Russians burned down Moscow themselves. Napoleon tried to save it. The Kremlin survived largely because of his efforts.

Quote from: Entertainment WeeklyRidley Scott filmed Napoleon like a general: 'I plan it, in a funny kind of way, like a battle'
The filmmaker talks about filming Napoleon Bonaparte's invasion of Russia, as seen in EW's exclusive sneak peek.

It takes one to know one, they say. So, to make his new film about one of the most successful military generals in history, Napoleon director Ridley Scott had to become a bit of a general himself.

"I can read all the books in the world on him, but instead, because the film is such a large event, I rely on my very good team," Scott tells EW. "My team does marvelous military costumes like I've never seen before. The costumes are mind-blowing, and then I have a military expert for cause-and-effect battle sequences. That's all coordinated. I plan it, in a funny kind of way, a little bit like a battle."

Just as a military commander like Napoleon Bonaparte might coordinate a battle plan beforehand with his general staff, Scott needed to meet regularly with the heads of various departments in order to plan massive sequences... like, say, Napoleon's invasion of Russia, which you can glimpse in EW exclusive photos below

"When you do a film like this, you have to have all your department heads edge around the table regularly," Scott says. "We have meetings once a week, and we go page by page. Page one, I have a problem. What's the problem? And then on to page two. We fly through it like that because everybody's in the picture and the left hand always knows what the right hand is doing."

The new film stars Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon Bonaparte and Vanessa Kirby as wife Josephine. Scott wanted to make their romance the center of the movie, but still chronicle the highlights of Napoleon's extensive military career. Over the course of a single decade, the commander led a revolutionary French army against the other great powers of Europe, and succeeded for years — even bringing the Holy Roman Empire to an end after breaking their army at Austerlitz.

For all Napoleon's brilliance on the battlefield, he severely miscalculated his invasion of Russia. In these photos, you can see his arrival in Moscow — which was deserted when he arrived. Soon, it was burning.

"I don't think he was, in any shape or form, naive," Scott says. "He would have known very much what a Russian winter could do — and yet he went in a little late and stayed a little too long. And while he was in Moscow, he found the city was deserted. He wanted confrontation to see who could do what to who, but it was not what he expected. There wasn't much facing off on the battlefield, like there was at Waterloo. The Russians employed a very efficient group called the Cossacks who did a lot of hit-and-run continual harassment."

"What happened with the burning of Moscow," Scott continues, "was he became even more impressed by what the Russians would do to obviate a loss. In a way, they neutralized his victory."

After tearing across Europe for years, Napoleon's career finally came to an end on the remote island of Saint Helena, where he died at the relatively young age of 51. Scott, though, never wants his filmmaking struggle to end.

"These kinds of films are like climbing a mountain," Scott says. "At the ground level, the peak looks a long way off. But as you climb up the hill with your partners in this ridiculously challenging LEGO kit of information you're trying to put together, sometimes pieces don't fit and you're already at 20,000 feet. It's a continual day-by-day process, but that's why I do it. I love it."


That last shot. Fire, smoke and snow.

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That Russian campaign was unbelievably brutal.

A few excerpts from Andrew Roberts' biography

Quote"The Russians don't know how to make either war or peace. They are a degenerate nation." - Napoleon

QuoteThe sheer size of Napoleon's army is hard to compute. He had over 1 million men under arms in 1812 which was larger than the entire population of Paris at the time. It was certainly the largest invasion force in the history of mankind to that time, and very much a multi-national one. Poles made up the largest single foreign contingent, but it also comprised Austrians, Prussians, Westphalians, Württembergers, Saxons, Bavarians, Swiss, Dutch, Illyrians, Dalmatians, Neapolitans, Croats, Romans, Piedmontese, Florentines, Hessians, Badeners, Spaniards and Portuguese.

Only about 25 000 men of the Grande Armèe's central force made it back to France.

QuoteAn average of 1,000 horses were to die for every day of the 175 days that the Grande Armée spent in Russia.

QuoteUp to 140,000 of Napoleon's soldiers died of disease in 1812, the majority of them from typhus but a significant number from dysentery and related illnesses.

QuoteHundreds killed themselves, recalled Lieutenant Karl von Suckow, a Mecklenburger serving with the Württemberg Guard, 'feeling no longer able to endure such hardship. Every day one heard isolated shots ring out in the woods near the road. Medicine had become almost unobtainable

QuoteGeneral von Scheler reported to his king that even as early as crossing the Vistula 'all regular food supply and orderly distribution ceased, and from there as far as Moscow not a pound of meat or bread, not a glass of brandy was taken through legal distribution or regular requisition'

QuoteThe army utterly lost its morale and its military organization. Soldiers no longer obeyed their officers; officers paid no regard to their generals; shattered regiments marched as best they could. Searching for food, they dispersed over the plain, burning and sacking everything in their way ... Tormented by hunger, they rushed on every horse as soon as it fell, and like famished wolves fought for the pieces. Meanwhile toes, fingers, noses, ears and sexual organs were lost to frostbite.

QuoteWith the thermometer dropping to -30ºC on November 7, and blizzards seemingly continuous, the retreat slowed to a crawl. Some 5,000 horses died in a matter of days. Men's breath turned to icicles when it left their mouths, their lips stuck together and their nostrils froze up. In an echo of the desert ophthalmia of the Egyptian campaign, men were afflicted with snow-blindness. Comradeship collapsed; men were charged a gold louis to sit by a fire, and declined to share any food or water; they ate the horses' forage, and drove wagons over men who had slipped in front of them.

QuoteThere were several well-documented instances of cannibalism; Kutuzov's British liaison officer Sir Robert Wilson saw that when groups of French were captured around a campfire, 'many in these groups were employed in peeling off with their fingers and making a repast of the charred flesh of their comrades' remains'.


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Nice, somehow missed that one. Probably battle of Austerlitz?

More new stills, marketing in full swing now:

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Lots of new footage and behind the scenes:

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New stills:


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Quote from: Ingwar on Oct 03, 2023, 01:15:57 PM

Got to laugh at how they colour graded the bts footage as well.  :laugh:

Quote from: Nightmare Asylum on Oct 02, 2023, 03:30:49 PM70MM release!!!

Pardon my ignorance, but how does 70mm work in this day and age? Obviously Ridley/Wolski shot in digital, so does the finished movie then get printed onto actual film and projected or is it merely a digital projection equivalent to 70mm film?

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Quote from: The Eighth Passenger on Oct 03, 2023, 02:51:09 PM
Quote from: Nightmare Asylum on Oct 02, 2023, 03:30:49 PM70MM release!!!

Pardon my ignorance, but how does 70mm work in this day and age? Obviously Ridley/Wolski shot in digital, so does the finished movie then get printed onto actual film and projected or is it merely a digital projection equivalent to 70mm film?

Usually 70MM (or 35MM when that's the case) isn't mentioned as a release format if what is being shown is actually a digital projection equivalent, so I'm imagining that with them explicitly advertising a 70MM presentation of Napoleon (in theaters that support it), that likely means that it will be printed to 70MM film and projected that way. I know it was a pretty big deal last year when some theaters (including Tarantino's New Beverly Cinema) did 35MM showings of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which was shot digitally.

My local IMAX showed Oppenheimer in 70MM, and Interstellar as well (no idea about Dunkirk, I missed that one on the big screen), but those were, of course, shot on film. I have no idea if they're going to go through the trouble of getting a projectionist and proper setup ready to go for a movie that wasn't natively shot on film (but I'm certainly hoping that they do).

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QuoteRidley Scott filmed Napoleon in just 62 days – despite it featuring six huge battle scenes

Ridley Scott is no stranger to historical epics, from 1492: Conquest of Paradise to Gladiator – which single-handedly revived the swords-and-sandals genre – to Kingdom of Heaven. And he's back staging huge-scale battles against a period backdrop in the upcoming Napoleon.

This take on the French leader, played here by Gladiator actor Joaquin Phoenix, covers his rise and fall in the context of his relationship with Empress Joséphine (Vanessa Kirby), looking as much at politics of the bedroom as the battleground.

In the new issue of Total Film, which hits shelves next week, Scott talks in-depth about Napoleon (as well as digging into the biggest films of his career). At 85 years old, he's showing no signs of slowing down – literally, in terms of how quickly he can prep and shoot a movie. And there's no shrinking of his ambitions when it comes to spectacle too. Here's an exclusive shot of Scott on set with Phoenix from the new issue of Total Film:

Scott announced that he'd be turning his attention to Napoleon on 14 October 2020, the same day that The Last Duel wrapped filming. He works fast, and had begun the 62-day shoot – yes, just 62 days, ridiculous for a film of this scale – by February 2022.

As Scott points out, Napoleon took part in 66 battles over the course of his career, which would be impossible to put on screen. In the film, there are six battles, and each is staged differently, and each one wows.

Scott puts his prowess with shooting action down to his background in commercials (having shot a lot of sport) and also, particularly, his time at art school.

"The best thing for my career I could ever have done was to go to the art schools I went to. I can really draw. After seven years of art school, you bloody better well be able to. I'll draw all my own storyboards. Every frame is drawn from close-up to medium shots. The locations I haven't found yet – I'll imagine the location. So we'll look for that location. Visual narrative is my strength. I find it very easy, therefore, to handle eight or 11 cameras at once."

Scott used to shoot two commercials a week and would operate the camera on all of them. He took that into his filmmaking. "I was the only operator – one camera – on Alien," he says. "I was the only operator – one camera – on The Duellists. Legend. Thelma & Louise. On all these things, I operated the camera. And so I know exactly what a lens will give me. Today, that has evolved into six to eight to 11 cameras. So I'll sit in my trailer. I'll have monitors like this [spreads arms to indicate a bank of screens]. I'll be sitting there, talking to each operator.

"Every scene is geometry. By having 11 to 14 cameras, we shot Napoleon in 62 days. I'm doing Gladiator 2 now in 54 days, because I'm not doing 50 takes with one camera, on one shot, and then turning around. This normal fight [scene] that could take anything up to a month, I'll take six days. So the savings are colossal."

Napoleon opens in cinemas on November 22. For much more on the film and Ridley Scott's career, pick up a copy of the news issue of Total Film when it hits shelves on October 12. Check out the covers below:

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Quote from: The Eighth Passenger on Oct 06, 2023, 02:23:43 PM
QuoteAs Scott points out, Napoleon took part in 66 battles over the course of his career, which would be impossible to put on screen. In the film, there are six battles, and each is staged differently, and each one wows.

So I guess the six battles are (in chronological order):

1. Siege of Toulon (as seen in the trailer with the Toulon batteries firing on the Royal Navy ships)

2. Battle of the Pyramids (as per trailer)

3. Marengo (not sure about this one, but it is the film's working title, so likely that battle is included)

4. Battle of Austerlitz (as seen in the trailer with the French cannons firing on the frozen lake)

5. Battle for Moscow/Borodino (as per trailer)

6. Waterloo (as per trailer)

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Quote from: DeadlineRidley Scott On Capturing Epic 'Napoleon' & Why He Chose Joaquin Phoenix To Play The Emperor At Contenders London.

Napoleon director-producer Ridley Scott was on stage at Deadline's Contenders London event to discuss the journey behind his latest epic and why he chose Joaquin Phoenix to portray the iconic Emperor.

Speaking about casting Oscar-winner Phoenix, who he had previously worked with on Gladiator [in which Phoenix played another Emperor], filmmaking legend Scott told the audience that he had always viewed Phoenix's character in that movie as "the most sympathetic character in Gladiator, being the product of such a neglectful father."

He continued: "I was blown away by his outrageous film Joker. I didn't like the way it celebrated violence but Joaquin was remarkable. I thought he'd be an amazing asset to Napoleon, [not only creatively] also in a commercial sense. There were only two actors I had in mind for the role. I won't mention the other one."

The film captures Napoleon's famous battles, relentless ambition and astounding strategic mind as an extraordinary military leader and war visionary.

Four-time Oscar nominee Scott revealed that he shot the movie in only 62 days. "Normally a film like this would be shot in around 110," he revealed. "I discovered years ago that eight cameras are eight times faster. Every department has to be able to keep up with my speed. Actors don't want to hear the story of life before each take. I discovered that early on. A well known Welsh actor once told me 'I love what you do because you move so quickly'. You've got to know the geometry of the scene. If you don't, it'll be 3pm before your first shot gets rolling."

Scott said that his passion for the subject was partly born out of his love of France. The filmmaker recalled visiting Saint Tropez on holiday as a teenager, "slathering myself in olive oil and getting the worst sun burn in my life": "I've always enjoyed the French way of life. I've never forgotten the French summers. I loved Paris so much that I have an office there. My first film The Duellists was about Napoleon, though he wasn't in it."

The Blade Runner and Thelma And Louise filmmaker said that his approach to the film was initially visual: "There are 400 books on Napoleon, but I'm a child who looks at pictures. When you look at the paintings of French painter David, you get a history lesson from the paintings".

Scott was joined on stage by Janty Yates, costume designer; Martin Phipps, composer; and Kate Rhodes James, casting director.

James described the chemistry between Phoenix and co-lead Vanessa Kirby: "They have an intimacy that you can't masquerade. Vanessa has a particular quality about her: she's highly intelligent. Josephine the character was an intelligent, manipulative survivor. There were moments in the film that the two actors improvised and it was magical. They were incredible together."

Yates, a regular collaborator with Scott, said that historical accuracy was key to the project: "Normally we research the granny out of our subject then put our own spin on it. Accuracy was everything on this movie. For example, there was embroidery ordered for very specific generals from Russia, Prussia, Britain, France and more..."

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Quote from: Total Film MagazineExclusive: Ridley Scott has given an update on the director's cut of his upcoming historical epic Napoleon.

Ridley Scott has chopped down his Napoleon director's cut, but it's still over 4 hours.

The director, known for an incredible body of work that includes Gladiator, Alien, and Blade Runner, has been open about his plans for a director's cut of his new film, Napoleon. Now, he's given Total Film magazine an update on how it's looking in our celebration issue.

"I'm working on it. It was four [hours] 10 [minutes] this morning," Scott tells us in the new issue, which hits newsstands on Thursday, October 12. "And so what will happen is, we'll screen [the theatrical cut] first with Sony, and then it has its run, and then the perfect thing is that [the director's cut] goes to streaming, and we have four hours 10 minutes."

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