Napoleon – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Napoleon – For Love and Country: Vive la France

Our world can be described as a marker of stories, new and old.  Within these paths is an essence that establishes humanity’s triumphs and defeats.  From these historical moments comes a proven ground for storytelling, especially on the big screen.  Through film, it becomes a way to capture the visual prowess of these moments, marking a genuine escape … if done right.  In this review, I look at the latest historical drama.  Through a familiar journey of the genre, Napoleon provides a unique story of the rise and fall of the infamous French Emperor. 

This is the story of the infamous Napoleon Bonaparte (Joaquin Phoenix), and his rise and fall as the Emperor of France in the 19th century.  To speak about films of historical context, there is a certain brevity to the experience.  It becomes a natural guise to build emotional threads by bending some truths with drama.  In the beginning, we come into the story at the end of the French Revolution.  This time is marked with bloodshed, calamity and a power struggle between French citizens and royalist.  Within these trouble times, an unknown military general, Napoleon Bonaparte, uses his cunning military knowledge (and love of country) to move, sway and position himself for great things through this portion of French history.  This leads through scenes of general conversation, epic battle sequences and a slow reveal of ‘who is’ Napoleon.  As the journey moves through its linear directive, we witness important historical moments (through narrative driven date markers) that position Napoleon’s rise through the ranks.  As the film builds within these statue markers, it becomes a staging ground that leads into the character of Napoleon, and his complicated relationship with Josephine (Vanessa Kirby).  As the film slowly weaves in an emotional aspect (of the character), it levies the journey through a two-fold approach: a historical drama masked within a romance.  At this point, the film becomes something of a different onlook at history that is built through dramatization and genuine appeal.  This is the ‘brevity’ introduced, providing a ‘hook’ that allows for raw tension to create a unique experience towards an iconic figure. 

As Napoleon works his way to ‘emperor’ status, it becomes a game of dramatics within historical context.  As he moves within an ideal of ‘peace’, it becomes a hazy conviction marked within the blood of his enemies.  While his cunningness reigns supreme (on the battlefield), it also provides a holistic sense towards the complicated romance (with Josephine).  As the juggling act continues, the film falls prey to his own source material, building through the ‘greatest hits’ technique of filming.  Even within a heavy-set plot, the throughline of important moments provides the shift to real dire consequences for Napoleon.  With his back against the wall, we head into a third act that provides visual strength of action on the battlefield.  This leads to an epic climax and ‘historical reference’ like epilogue.  Napoleon is a historical drama that provides a fragmented look at an important figure in French history.  If you are a fan of historical dramas, history, or romance like films, this is one for you.  I think there is worth seeing this on the big screen.

Full Score – 3.5 out of 5 (Matinee)

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