As part of the HFBRT June event for upcoming release For the King by Catherine Delors, I thought it was time for another installment of Caught on Tape. Napoleon is not an active character in For the King. The story is very much set around an attack on his life, but he doesn’t appear for a long period of the book. I wanted to take a look at how he has been portrayed on film, thus Caught on Tape. Finding movies that were actually movies rather than documentaries was a little difficult, but I think I might have found some gems. We will look at the movies in chronological order of his life.
The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
“In this beautifully photographed rekindling of the classic Alexandre Dumas story. Edmond Dantés's (Jim Caviezel) life and plans to marry the beautiful Mercedes (Dagmara Dominczyk) are shattered when his best friend, Fernand (Guy Pearce), deceives him. After spending 13 miserable years in prison, Dantés escapes with the help of a fellow inmate (Richard Harris) and plots his revenge, cleverly insinuating himself into the French nobility” (from Netflix)
My boyfriend has been trying to convince me to see this for awhile, and finally, as “research”, I assented. It is actually a very enjoyable movie and I loved the part when he was in prison with the character played by Richard Harris. Napoleon figures into this movie for about the first 10 minutes and then he is never seen from again – but his presence sets off a lot of happenings for Dantés. This movie is set after the events of For the King; Napoleon has already been exiled on the island of Elba. Played by Alex Norton, Napoleon acted as I would expect from him – he tricks the stranded boys and tries to get one of them to smuggle out letters to aide his escape.
You can watch the first 10 minutes of the film on YouTube – this is the part featuring Napoleon – and if you get the chance, I would recommend you watch the rest. It is currently an instant movie on Netflix – that’s how I watched it.
“Shortly after he is forced to abdicate the emperorship and retire to Elba, Napoleon (Rod Steiger) roars back to the front in defiance of King Louis XVIII (Orson Welles). Wellington (Christopher Plummer) readies an international coalition to battle the dictator at Waterloo” (from Netflix)
I haven’t seen this one and Netflix describes it as “a box office flop” – any of you seen it and care to post an opinion? This movie takes place after Napoleon escapes from Elba and effectively ends his return to power for 100 days. This movie focuses entirely on events at the end of Napoleon’s reign. After Waterloo he is again exiled – this time to the island of St. Helena. Napoleon is played by Rod Steiger. The trailer makes the movie look very visually appealing.
Monsieur N (2003) - French Foreign Film
“Exiled French dictator Napoleon Bonaparte (Philippe Torreton), aided by an American pirate and a former general in his Grand Army, is hatching a plot to escape the confines of his prison island, St. Helena. Meanwhile, a young English officer arrives on the island to keep a close watch on the military genius … who also happens to be his idol. Co-stars Jay Rodan and Richard E. Grant” (from Netflix).
I watched this one this past week, specifically for this event, and it was an instant watch on Netflix as well (if you are interested). This is a foreign film in parts – the French characters speak French and the English speak English. It is narrated in English and has subtitles for the French. I really enjoyed this movie – it was beautiful to look at and very well acted and put together. A little romance, a little mystery, and there was a great twist at the end too. The story bounces back and forth between the present (20 years after the death of Napoleon) and when Napoleon was exiled on St. Helena. I really enjoyed this movie – and one of the lead characters, Lieutenant Heathcote (Jay Rodan) was easy on the eyes. Napoleon is portrayed by Philippe Torrenton and did a phenomenal job. A definite recommendation!
The Emperor’s New Clothes (2002)
“In this whimsical tale based on Simon Leys's novel The Death of Napoleon, the exiled Napoleon Bonaparte (Ian Holm) trades places with a look-alike -- a common drunk -- and makes his way back to Paris in disguise, intent on reclaiming his throne. During his travels, he discovers that France has changed in many humorous ways -- and finds love with a melon-selling widow named Pumpkin (Iben Hjejle)” (from Netflix).
I have not seen this movie either, but I’m not expecting too much, although it got decent customer reviews surprisingly. It sounds like another version of The Prince and the Pauper – creating a fantasy life for Napoleon. Napoleon is portrayed by Ian Holm. A rom/com take on the story of Napoleon.
I hope you have all enjoyed this installment of Caught on Tape. Please let me know if you have seen any of the above and what you thought – I would love to hear it.
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