Napoleon (2023) Film Review: Brilliant Cinematography


Napoleon was look at the French military general’s origins and his swift, steady and ruthless climb to becoming the emperor, viewed through the perspective of his obsession and somewhat tense relationship with his true love Josephine. It served as a very interesting historical movie about Napoleon, directed by Ridley Scott, starring Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon and Vanessa Kirby as his wife, Josephine.

Joaquin Phoenix stars as Napoleon Bonaparte in Apple Original Films and Columbia Pictures theatrical release of NAPOLEON. Photo Courtesy of Sony Pictures/Apple Original Films

As much as I expected your typical Ridley Scott film, it was different as it contained a lot of balance with story about Napoleon with his wife Josephine. When it gets to action you see these beautifully crafted battle sequences, grandeur of aesthetic, which en captured some of the history behind the battles Napoleon was in.

Joaquin Phoenix really portrayed Napoleon in a great way, accurate but also humorous. The film definitely surprises with the way it uses humour, which was an element I rather enjoyed about the film. Scott’s filmmaking is second to none with the brilliant cinematography and general aesthetic of the film, followed by an excellent score that complements every moment in the film. I think the film slows down when necessary and ramps up right before the battle scenes.

Joaquin Phoenix stars as Napoleon Bonaparte and Vanessa Kirby stars as Empress Josephine in Apple Original Films and Columbia Pictures theatrical release of NAPOLEON. Photo by: Aidan Monaghan

When it comes to the overall scope of the film, the context behind his relationship with Josephine was flushed out pretty well, the politics of wars and how Napoleon conquered each victory despite his sacrifices was interesting. The history I was hoping to get more perspective of was how Napoleon devised his battle tactics. I feel the film required more scenes on the preparation of the battles because Napoleon was a tactical genius, where did that ruthless come from and his actions that lead him to becoming the general. I think that’s my only critique with Napoleon as analysing how we became that military emperor which really needs more flushing. Watching Phoenix’s performance as Napoleon was entertaining and surely he’ll be considered for an award with this role.

I’ve heard there will be a 4 hour cut of the movie on Apple TV. So potentially these issues with the lack of tactical perspective, might be resolved within that cut off the film.

Written by Shamoon Saeed – Entertainment Features Editor