Napoleon (The Englishman?)

Sony Pictures have recently released the new trailer for Ridley Scott’s ‘Napoleon. The visuals look epic and Joaquin Phoenix appears in true star form. Almost as if cast in a throw-back role to his Oscar nominated role in Gladiator. 

The vast landscapes and war scenes are matched by equally impeccable cinematography by Dariusz Wolski for what sure looks set to be an astonishing piece of cinema.

Very few directors work on this scale. Given the state of the economy and with cinemas going bankrupt everywhere, it’s good to see true film veterans like Scott back on top form.

However, I have one gripe.

The film’s original dialogue is in English, and this seems to take away the authenticity and glamour of the trailer. It would have been great if Scott had shot ‘Napoleon’ in native French, much like Mel Gibson did for ‘Apocalypto’ and ‘The Passion of the Christ’.

Language and character authenticity go a long way in drawing an audience to the emotive scenes being captured on film. This fact alone is even more so if the story at hand is a historical re-enactment. 

Sure, I hear plenty amongst you raising note to the fact that film is a business, and there are commercial considerations as to why the studio didn’t shoot ‘Napoleon’ in native French.

However, subtitles didn’t stop Mel Gibson raking in billions at the box office from ‘The Passion of the Christ’. I’m sure ‘Napoleon’ would still be a commercial success if most of the original dialogue had been in French. 

Napoleon was a villain to the English, but in most parts a hero to the French. So the quaint English dialogue in this trailer seems sacrilegious, given that this biopic is about a man who wanted to paint the world blue in French.  

However, this is still a Ridley Scott picture and Joaquin Phoenix is most certainly in Oscar-mode as usual.

So we expect nothing short of an epic blockbuster.

This pic may top Gladiator, or even Apocalypto – but the jury is still out on ‘Napoleon’s’ language authenticity.

Le 22 Novembre 2023 sera épique. 

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