In a recent interview, Ridley Scott, the acclaimed director known for his dynamic storytelling, spoke candidly about his latest cinematic venture, "Napoleon." This biopic, headlined by Joaquin Phoenix as the iconic French leader and Vanessa Kirby as his wife Josephine, has sparked varied reactions, particularly among French critics.
Despite earning accolades in the UK, French reviews have been notably mixed. Le Figaro likened the film to "Barbie and Ken under the Empire," while French GQ criticized it as "deeply clumsy, unnatural, and unintentionally clumsy." Additionally, Le Point magazine highlighted historian Patrice Gueniffey's view of the film as "very anti-French and pro-British."
Scott's Confident Rebuttal
When the BBC questioned Scott about these critiques, his response was laced with his trademark confidence: “The French don’t even like themselves.
The audience that I showed it to in Paris, they loved it”. This assertive stance reflects Scott's unwavering belief in his cinematic vision, even in the face of skepticism. The film's grandeur was evident at its world premiere in Paris.
Scott, with a career spanning from "Alien" to "Gladiator" and "Black Hawk Down," has again demonstrated his flair for epic cinema. "Napoleon," featuring six massive battle scenes, was completed in a remarkable 61 days and has a runtime of 2 hours and 38 minutes.
Scott, aiming for brevity, told the BBC, "When you start to go ‘oh my God’ and then you say ‘Christ, we can’t eat for another hour,’ it’s too long”. Scott's fascination with Napoleon's complex legacy – a figure "revered, hated, loved… more famous than any man or leader or politician in history" – was a driving force behind this project.
His collaboration with Joaquin Phoenix, reuniting after their work on "Gladiator" 23 years ago, adds another layer of anticipation for the film. Phoenix, expressing gratitude towards Scott, shared, “The studio did not want me for Gladiator.
In fact, Ridley was given an ultimatum, and he fought for me, and it was just this extraordinary experience”. This blend of historical intrigue and star power is set to captivate audiences, as Scott delivers yet another cinematic masterpiece.