Ridley Scott Chronicles a Historic Rise to Power in the First Trailer for Napoleon

Movies News Ridley Scott
Ridley Scott Chronicles a Historic Rise to Power in the First Trailer for Napoleon

Twenty-three years after working together on Gladiator, Ridley Scott has once again recruited Joaquin Phoenix as he veers back into historical epic mode with Napoleon—and the first trailer has just been released. The film comes off the back of his 2021 double-release schedule, where he gave us the historical drama The Last Duel and the soapy family/true-crime saga of House of Gucci, highlighting the varied career of one of our most preeminent directors. 

As you may guess, the film is an account of the rise of the first emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte, as viewed through Scott’s sweeping sense of craft. The official synopsis suggests a unique perspective as well:

“The film is an original and personal look at Napoleon Bonaparte’s origins and his swift, ruthless climb to emperor, viewed through the prism of his addictive and often volatile relationship with his wife and one true love, Josephine.”

Take a first look at the intrigue and 18th-century warfare here:

The trailer offers an introduction to the French setting and foreboding tone before giving us a reminder that Scott has directed a whole bunch of the best movies ever made—sometimes you just forget that this guy made Alien and Blade Runner and, well, American Gangster, I guess. We also get our first taste of the cast, with Phoenix (let’s get some discourse started about whether or not he’s too tall for the part) seeming to embrace his subject’s inevitable rise with a stoic solemnity. We’re introduced to Vanessa Kirby’s Empress Josephine as well, who seems to convey the film’s larger viewpoint: “The course of my life just changed, Napoleon.”

The film’s battle sequences are given their share of screen time as well, looking predictably excellent and vicious, and the costuming and production design seem staggering. The film is penned by David Scarpa, whose prior work is slight, most notably writing the screenplay for the 2008 The Day The Earth Stood Still remake, but Scott seems to have made him his right-hand man as of late, as he’s also written All The Money In The World and is working on the upcoming Gladiator 2. Where will his tale of Napoleon lead? What ever will happen to this historical figure? We’ll have to wait and see.

Napoleon is in theaters November 22, 2023. 

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