Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon” Trailer Reveals Joaquin Phoenix as the French Conquerer

At last, the first trailer for Ridley Scott’s highly-anticipated historical epic Napoleon has just charged into view. Scott’s sweeping look at the rise and fall of Napoleon Bonaparte (Joaquin Phoenix), one of the most iconic, singular conquerors and emperors the world has ever known, comes bearing the legendary director’s skills at old-school, large-scale filmmaking. As he did in Gladiator (2000), which featured Russell Crowe’s valiant general-turned-slave-turned-gladiator Maxiums seeking revenge against the cruel and petty tyrant-turned-emperor Commodus (played by none other than Joaquin Phoenix), Scott’s take on Napoleon and his colossal impact on the world will not stint on action.

The trailer reveals the scope of Scott’s ambition, and in Phoenix, he’s deployed one of cinema’s most consistently inventive performers, someone with the ability to melt into a role completely, even one as outsized as the legendary Frenchman. We open in France in 1793 in the midst of a period of intense, bloody turmoil as the Jacobins have seized control of the National Convention and are instituting a series of radical measures. An example must be made, an as of yet relatively unknown Napoleon Bonaparte is told, “or France will fall.” Bonaparte is given a fresh assignment to defend the nation at all costs, and in turn, his ruthlessness serves him well. We see the makings of the French general who will go on to wage some of history’s most infamous battles, using his almost supernatural strategic gifts to mount what seems like an unbeatable army. As his victories mount and his acclaim rises, the General will eventually seize the throne for himself.

Napoleon features a starry cast, which includes Vanessa Kirby as Josephine, Napoleon’s lover and future Empress, the woman he was devoted to above all else, save, perhaps, his thirst to dominate the world. Joining Phoenix and Kirby are Tahar Rahim as Paul Barras, Ben Miles as Caulaincourt, Ludivine Sagnier as Theresa Cabarrus, Matthew Needham as Lucien Bonaparte, Youssef Kerkour as Marshal Davout, Phil Cornwell as Sanson ‘The Bourreau,’ Edouard Philipponnat as Tsar Alexander, Paul Rhys as Talleyrand, John Hollingworth as Marshall Ney, Gavin Spokes as Moulins and Mark Bonnar as Jean-Andoche Junot.

“I’m the first to admit when I made a mistake,” Napoleon says at the end of the trailer, “I simply never do.” History proved the conqueror wrong, but Scott aims to deliver the most visceral cinematic look yet at a man who really did believe himself flawless until, of course, his flaws undid him.

Check out the trailer below. Napoleon conquers theaters on Thanksgiving:

Here’s the official synopsis from Sony Pictures:

Napoleon is a spectacle-filled action epic that details the checkered rise and fall of the iconic French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, played by Oscar®-winner Joaquin Phoenix. Against a stunning backdrop of large-scale filmmaking orchestrated by legendary director Ridley Scott, the film captures Bonaparte’s relentless journey to power through the prism of his addictive, volatile relationship with his one true love, Josephine, showcasing his visionary military and political tactics against some of the most dynamic practical battle sequences ever filmed.

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Featured image: “Napoleon” one sheet. Courtesy Sony Pictures.


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