With Oppenheimer in cinemas and major films like Back to Black and Moss & Freud around the corner, it’s a good time to be fan of big biopics. One of the most ambitious of all though is Ridley Scott’s upcoming Napoleon, based on the life of the most famous figure in French history and starring Joker star Joaquin Phoenix in the lead role. It’s set to release in November, and charts Napoleon’s rise to power in the late 18th century.


What Is Napoleon About?

Napoleon Bonaparte might be one of the most important historical figures, but there hasn’t been a proper modern take in his life story in decades. News finally materialised in recent years that Alien and Gladiator director Ridley Scott would be directing a new blockbuster telling the French leader’s story and produced by Apple Studios.

Obviously you can expect plenty of big battle scenes, but the film promises to also delve into Napoleon’s personal life and almost unrivalled ambition, as well as his much written about relationship with the Empress Josephine.


Who Else Stars?

Scott’s Napoleon will be played by Phoenix, who previously starred in Gladiator as the villainous Emperor Commodus, bringing the esteemed military commander to life.

Meanwhile, The Crown and Mission Impossible star Vanessa Kirby will appear opposite him in the role of Josephine. During production, Ridley Scott commented that he was fascinated by Napoleon because “all the while he was waging a romantic war with his adulterous wife Josephine. He conquered the world to try to win her love, and when he couldn’t, he conquered it to destroy her, and destroyed himself in the process.”

Their tumultuous love affair will form the emotional centre to the film, as Napoleon’s origins and lightning fast rise to crown himself Emperor are told.

In addition to the two main stars, Tahar Rahim (The Serpent) will appear as politician Paul Barras, Ben Miles (The Crown) will play advisor to Napoleon, Caulaincourt, and Ludivine Sagnier (Lupin) will play socialite Theresa Cabarrus.

When Is The Release Date?

Apple recently released a first trailer for the much anticipated biopic, showing flashes of epic battles and the lavish period costume design. We also see a glimpse of Phoenix and Kirby in action as Napoleon and Josephine, as well as echoes of Commodus in Gladiator as Napoleon crowns himself. It’s all shaping up to be an enthralling historical epic, and is set to release in cinemas on 22nd November, with a later release on Apple TV+.

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