Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Christian Clavier, Isabella Rossellini, Gérard Depardieu, John Malkovich, Anouk Aimée
Director: Yves Simoneau
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Television, Military & War
From the campaign that transformed the Corsican outsider into a French hero to his bitter, final defeat at Waterloo, NAPOLEON charts the course of the man who defied centuries of tradition and forced his will upon a contin... more »
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Kendra M. (KendraM) from NASHVILLE, TN
Reviewed on 3/21/2008...
Napoleon is a gorgeous, lush, and vibrant cinematic feast. It's stunning to watch and reminds me of the earlier films filmed in full Technicolor. The colors are vibrant and over-saturated at times. It's definitely a visual masterpiece.
I bought my version from a Chinese seller on eBay. The version I watched is 8 hours in length and in English with a choice of dubbed Chinese audio or the English audio. I've noticed that many reviewers have complained about the English dubbing on the English version and mention that one should purchase the French version with English subtitles. I'm very confused about this, really, because my version wasn't dubbed English. I realize they didn't film two entirely separate films, however the version I owned is filmed in original English and my husband and I agree we cannot possibly be mistaken about this. We expected dubbing, but there was none. Every single word was enunciated clearly and was absolutely in sync with the actors' mouths. In addition, the English version I watched had no narration as some of these reviewers noted negatively.
I had never even heard of Christian Clavier prior to seeing this film. He was incredible. He seemed born to play this role. Clavier's face is amazingly expressive and he brings sensitivity and empathy to this role. At times I got so caught up in the character of Napoleon that I found myself dreading the Moscow scenes and then the scenes at Waterloo-- futilely hoping for a different outcome. I've learned that this actor usually plays more comedic roles and I'm surprised since he's wonderfully talented.
Joining Clavier is Anouk Aimee as Napoleon's mother, Isabella Rossellini as Josephine, John Malkovich as Talleyrand, and Gerard Depardieu as Joseph Fouche. Anouk Aimee was perfect-- she definitely brought some depth to Letizia. Both Isabella Rossellini and John Malkovich, though, were really horrible. Josephine was known to be unfaithful and headstrong. Here, we wonder what Napoleon actually sees in her! I don't want to blame this actress completely-- the script could have definitely used some improvement when it came to their interaction. However, she brought no charm to the role of Josephine at all, I thought. Had Josephine been played by Marie BÃ¤umer (who played Napoleon's sister, Caroline), Mavie HÃ¶rbiger (Marie Louise of Austria, Napoleon's second wife), or Alexandra Maria Lara (Countess Marie Walewska), we would have all fallen in love with her. But, instead, we were given a flat performance lacking in appeal.
John Malkovich played John Malkovich. I don't think I've ever seen him play a role any differently than he played here. Just like Jack Nicholson is wild and erratic, John Malkovich is known for his flat affect and cold demeanor. Additionally, it was a bit off-putting to have Talleyrand speak with absolutely no trace of a French accent, but there you have it. It seemed as if the casting directors took no real note of this when casting- having the names that would draw both the French and the Americans must have been their main concern. John Malkovich wasn't the only one who didn't even attempt to speak with an authentic accent. Julien Sands, (who played Klemens Metternich, the ambassador from Austria) spoke the King's English. Having accents match the characters would have been a bit more helpful, especially when dealing with unfamiliar characters from so many different countries. And although Napoleon was actually from Corsica, his French accent didn't bother me at all. He at least was French (even if originally from Corsica) and, really, he lived in France from age nine. He very well could have lost his Corsican accent (his mother, however, was decidedly French).
So, some of that was a bit strange. Napoleon's speech was beautiful but his own brothers sometimes sounded American. His stepdaughter didn't sound French, his second wife didn't sound Austrian. Where's Meryl Streep when you need her?
Everyone else was very good. Gerard Depardieu actually gets better with age. I've always liked him, but didn't understand his very wide appeal. He was excellent and stole the scenes when on screen.
As noted by so many other reviewers, there are obvious inaccuracies and omissions. Thankfully, my husband (a historian) was right there next to me and I was able to ask him questions when things weren't clear. The transitions from scene to scene are poor and fail to give the viewer ample background and information. Some text would have been helpful between scenes-- especially either prior to major battles, for instance, or afterwards.
Still, with all the film's faults, it was enjoyable and informative (even if it could have been more informative), and Christian Clavier was superb.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
I prefer the French Version
M. La Vean | Michigan | 04/12/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First of all I know that there are those who will fly speck historical accuracy. I agree there are some minor problems.These problems were made worse by the editing of the English language version (the French version is 6 hours long)...for example; the narration does not exist in the French version...In the English version Napoleon arrives in Egypt, rides along some sand dunes to narration then is teleported to France...in the French version there is more than 20 minutes devoted to the Egyptian Campaign that just disappears in the English version.The narration is not particularly good and was done by someone who was not terribly familar with the time period and French idiomatic expression...An example would be when the narration says Napoleon's Ashes were returned to France...In French, what was returned were his "cindres"...which literally does translate as ashes...but in French has a more allegorical meaning, as in "ashes to ashes dust to dust"...a translation of "mortal remains" would have been more accurate...On the positive side and why I give this movie 5 stars and why you have to buy it is the visual feast...it will make your eyes pop and give you the justification for that large screen TV.This film had an unlimited budget (and I mean unlimited)...the costumes are very well done with close attention to detail...and what is unusual is that there are a lot of them...I don't mean 10 to 12 people in a scene...I means hundreds and sometimes hundreds and hundreds...the coronation looks like a living version of the David painting. The balls and the court scenes are well populated...The battle scenes are all in vein of those in the Rod Steiger Waterloo film. Literally regiments of reinactors, scenes of hundreds of heavy cavalry charging through the snows of Eylau, Napoleon leading 100's of reinactors in the charge at the bridge of Arcole in the face of several hundred Austrian reinactors...long shots of over a thousand at Jena...fantastic...(As an aside those who know the Sharpe series will remember that the further one goes into the series the more people horses and carriages there are in the film...)An example of what I mean by an extravagant budget is a scene on the road during the Polish Campaign when Napoleon receives the news of the birth of Count Leon his first illegitimate child...this scene has the prinicipal actors as you would expect...and not one but two carriages with a third one arriving during the scene...3 count them 3 vintage carriages in the scene when they could have gotten away with the scene shot next to a building...then they go and have the Grande Armee march by while they are in conversion just to let us know how huge their budget was...I mean they had to position cameras and the carriages, the actors and the dispatch rider coming in with the news all so you can see the road and actually watch more several hundred extras march by not in just a generic uniform, but in uniforms which change color accents based on the regiment and the colors of pom poms on the shako's changing with the company....The use of extras, sets, props is lavish...I felt that this is the world as I imagined. All the props down to the little details are there...the anecdotes...even Mameluke Ali...This is to the Napoleon's Empire what the movie Cleopatra is to Julius and Augustus Ceasar.This is a fantastic costume drama...if you like the clothes and settings in Duelists, War and Peace, Waterloo, Dangerous Liasons...then "you ain't seen nothin' yet". Superbly turned out cast of thousands in extraordinary sets...In summary...can you nit pick this movie?...you betcha...and I'll bet I can do it as well anyone else...on the other hand I am extremely appreciative that a decision was made to spend this much money giving me a glimpse into the world of the 1st Empire...If you like the period then you have no choice but to own this...if you are concerned about the historical accuracy...then I suggest you go Amazon.fr order the 6 hour French version and turn the sound off...you obviously know enough already that you don't need to hear what they are saying.Michael La Vean,
Fellow, International Napoleonic Society"
As Good As it Gets in 6 Hours
R. A Forczyk | Laurel, MD USA | 07/28/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Apparently, many reviewers feel disappointed that the six-hour A&E miniseries on Napoleon did not include every battle, every major incident in the life of the famous Corsican. Let's be realistic for a moment. Even 1,000+ page books likes Chandler's The Campaigns of Napoleon do not cover all aspects of the Emperor's life. In order to provide the kind of in-depth coverage of Napoleon's 22-year career from Toulon to Waterloo, this mini-series would have to have been about 20-24 hours long and obviously cost about four times as much. Does anyone think that is going to happen in our quick-buck entertainment industry? Instead of grumbling about what the mini-series omitted, viewers should appreciate A&E's effort and recognize this mini-series for what it is: marvelous. My review of Napoleon: the Miniseries will discuss what material was included in these six hours, what was minimized, and what was omitted. The producers of Napoleon get scant credit for packing six major Napoleonic battles (Arcola, Austerlitz, Jena, Eylau, Aspern-Essling, and Waterloo) into this six-hour format. Each battle gets at least 5-10 minutes of coverage, which is enough to convey at least some of the highlights; reviewers who expected a Bondarchuk-style coverage of each action are unreasonable (and even he omitted key details in his film on Waterloo). Key events that receive significant treatment in the mini-series include: Napoleon's suppression of the Paris uprising in 1795, the Coup of Brumaire, an assassination attempt, the murder of Duke d'Enghien, the Treaty of Tilsit, Marie Walewska, the imperial coronation, Napoleon's abdication, the Hundred Days, exile on Elba and St Helena, and his death. Key personalities who receive major speaking roles include Marshals Ney, Murat, and Lannes; Talleyrand, Fouche, Josephine, Marie-Louise, Joseph, Lucien, and the Tsar Alexander. All in all, this is a huge amount of material. The mini-series covered five battles or campaigns in brief, usually with one quick scene or brief mention: the Egyptian Campaign, Trafalgar, the Peninsula War, the Russian Campaign, and the 1814 Campaign in France. A number of personalities, mostly military men, are also briefly depicted: Captain Muiron, Davout, Augereau, Berthier, Bernadotte, Soult, Grouchy, Eugene, Blucher, and Wellington. The only incidents briefly depicted are Napoleon's schoolboy days at Brienne, which are covered in two historically inaccurate scenes. Obviously, a great deal of material just could not fit in the six-hour format. Ten major battles or campaigns were entirely omitted: the siege of Toulon, most of the 1796 Italian campaign, the Pyramids, the Syrian campaign, Marengo, Auerstadt, Friedland, Wagram, Borodino, and Leipzig. Omitted incidents include most of Napoleon's first 26 years, Napoleon abandoning armies in Egypt & Russia, and the Treaty of Campo Formio 1797. A number of significant marshals, such as Massena, Oudinot, and Junot are not mentioned once. I think the only valid criticism that can be made about these omissions is that the producers tended to enhance the importance of a few minor characters such as Muiron or Roustam, at the expense of historically more important figures like Berthier. There are a number of criticisms that could be made about how the historical material is presented. First, the transitions between most of the major events are poor; this mini-series desperately needs brief narrative blurbs to describe what is happening or just happened (e.g. we see the retreat from Moscow, but there is no mention of the scale of this catastrophe. A brief slide could have said, "Napoleon invaded Russia with 600,000 men and only 40,000 made it back to Poland.). Second, there is a general failure to properly introduce Napoleon's family members or marshals properly. The result is that these characters keep appearing out of nowhere and viewers unfamiliar with this period will be wondering, "just how many brothers and generals does this guy have?" Finally, the mini-series makes no real effort to attempt to explain the reasons for Napoleon's rise or fall; things happen, one after another, until he ends up on St Helena. Obviously the 6-hour format is again partly the culprit for this failure to analyze or explain, but part of it lies in the fact that the film tends to see events though Napoleon's eyes (which helps to engender empathy in the viewer). Napoleon was indeed oblivious to many of the events and people working toward his downfall, and this mini-series imposes that same tunnel vision upon the viewer. In sum, Napoleon: the mini-series could not possibly hope to cover all of this man's very busy life in only 6 hours, but A&E makes an honest effort and the result is the best portrayal of the Emperor's life to date. The writers should also be congratulated for depicting Napoleon in a manner that gains empathy for his insights while not hiding his misdeeds. If anything, this is the kind of film that should spur viewers to read more about Napoleon in order to find out more about omitted details. Thank you A&E!"
Yes, there is another version with printed English subtitles
Bill King | Reno, Nv., United States | 11/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"On October 10, 2005 Reviewer A. Garza asked: "this dvd did no have close captioned, and for me I prefer them with closed captioned. Don you have it with cc.??? In the page you stated this dvd was closed captioned"
Yes,there is another version of the same program which has only French audio but does have a menu choice of French or English subtitles. It is the other one mentioned in the Spotlight Review of "April 12, 2003 Reviewer: M. La Vean "LaVean".
I have that other (French) version which is superior to the TV miniseries 3-Disk collector's edition for these few reasons, IMO.
1) The French version is on four disks, each one plays slightly longer than 1-1/2 hours = 6h:19m total. According to La Vean this provides a slightly longer program, I hate to miss anything :).
2) The audio is original and does not sound phony nor slightly out of lipsynch. Back ground noises appear natural, not restaged. Of course it is in French but with good large English subtitles, not a problem ;).
3) The box & disks have very deluxe graphics, gift quality indeed!
4) The amazon title is "Napoleon (Napoléon ORiginal French Version with English Subtitles) DVD ~ Gérard Depardieu" and the ASIN is B00070JRU2.
5) It is truly widescreen format, 1.78:1 ratio.
On the other hand there are no extras, no A&E 2 hour Wellington bonus nor Biography show, so take your pick..."