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Napoleon


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#1 Old Fashioned

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Posted 31 March 2003 - 04:56 PM

Does anyone else plan on watching the new A&E movie being presented on April 8th? I've read that people think it is bad timing, but I never even considered the politic views that could play into this. I could care less about what others say; I am so excited about it, two of the greatest actors I've ever come across will star in it-- Depardieu and Malkovich. Hey, current events hasn't stopped my history teacher from discussing Napoleon and showing an A&E Biography on him, so why should this be any different?

#2 Ed Waffle

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Posted 31 March 2003 - 05:52 PM

Most interesting. According to the IMDB Malkovich plays Talleyrand, which could be a great bio-pic in itself. Depardieu has become so ubiquitous (and lately, so large) that he could play the Congress of Vienna.

Talleyrand must have been an amazing charater--he not only served but prospered under the ancient regine, the Revolution, Bonapart, the Restoration, and the July Monarchy. Seems like a role Malkovich was born to play--but so are a lot of others. He is a sublime actor.

Two other stars of the film that would cause me to tune in are Isabella Rossellini and Anouk Aimee.

For more info go to

http://us.imdb.com/Details?0253839

#3 Estelle

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Posted 01 April 2003 - 01:10 AM

Well, perhaps you have heard about Napoleon's famous sentence to Talleyrand, "vous êtes de la merde dans un bas de soie" (you are sh.. in a silk stocking)- it was said in 1808 because Talleyrand because he was doing some secret plots with Russia and Austria... Also that's another quote by Chateaubriand "Tout à coup une porte s'ouvre : entre silencieusement le vice appuyé sur le bras du crime, M. de Talleyrand marchant soutenu par M. Fouché." (Suddenly a door opens: silently enter the vice and the crime, M. de Talleyrand walking supported by M. Fouché"). Strange to think that he started his career as a bishop!

I haven't seen that film (actually it was done for TV, not for cinema), but it didn't get very good reviews here. One problem might be that here Christian Clavier is known mostly for his over-the-top comical roles (myself I don't care for it) so it looked like a strange choice. And Depardieu, well... he must have many taxes to pay, considering the films he's played in lately. :D

#4 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 01 April 2003 - 02:13 AM

I've seen this film which was broadcasted as a mini-series on French TV and is now available on DVD. It's quite a colourful, large-scaled international production. Still, as with most attempts to capture the complexities of Napoleon and his age on a few hours of film, it leaves quite a lot to be desired. Morever, I always find it hard to recognize those historical figures of whom we read in books in their screen versions. Anyway, the scenes with Malkovich and Depardieu are pure delight. And in spite of his past as a comedian, Clavier didn't do too badly.

#5 Mel Johnson

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Posted 01 April 2003 - 04:19 AM

I think the casting of Clavier may have something to do with the real quirkiness of Napoleon's character, and also the Bourbon Restorationists' contempt of him as an outsider.

#6 Old Fashioned

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Posted 01 April 2003 - 02:05 PM

Thank you all for your comments!

Originally posted by Estelle
And Depardieu, well... he must have many taxes to pay, considering the films he's played in lately. :)

Estelle, what do you mean by this?

#7 Estelle

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Posted 01 April 2003 - 02:30 PM

Well, it seems to me that many of Depardieu's last films were not especially good, and so I was wondering if he was motivated mostly by financial reasons... :)

#8 Ed Waffle

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Posted 01 April 2003 - 07:43 PM

Originally posted by Estelle
Well, perhaps you have heard about Napoleon's famous sentence to Talleyrand, "vous êtes de la merde dans un bas de soie" (you are sh.. in a silk stocking)- it was said in 1808 because Talleyrand because he was doing some secret plots with Russia and Austria


Prince Metternich, the ultra-conservative foreign minister of Austria, is played by Julian Sands, an actor who brings a certain edginess and intensity to most roles he takes on. Just the scenes (I assume there are some) between him and Malkovich as Talleyrand would make it worthwhile to tune in.

Thank you, Old Fashioned--this is the kind of thing that I usually notice long after it has been shown.

#9 Ed Waffle

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Posted 09 April 2003 - 02:46 PM

So did anyone watch the first two hours last night?

I caught about 45 minutes of it--some of it was quite compelling, especially Malkovich as Talleyrand. The domestic scenes between Napolean and Josephine were a bit much, but I would be pleased to see and hear Isabella Rossellini recite the alphabet.

I had trouble with the extreme cleanliness of it all, especially the battle scenes. It may have been done to show its opposite during the Grand Army's retreat from Moscow, although that is yet to be shown. However the idea of everyone in parade ground uniforms with all buttons buttoned and neckclothes in place after losing a desert war (the Egypt campaign, when Nelson burned his fleet at the Nile) was just too strange.

I won't be able to see the conclusion tonight, but A&E may show if another 20 or 30 times in the near future.

#10 Mel Johnson

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Posted 09 April 2003 - 08:04 PM

Napoleon wasn't there when the French army in Egypt surrendered to the British in 1801. He had "bugged out" back to Paris (well, wouldn't you?) to declare victory (he DID beat the Mameluks, after all) after about a year in country. You can bet that the Army that surrendered didn't much look like the one that got off the transports in 1798!

#11 Estelle

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Posted 10 April 2003 - 01:08 AM

About the campaign of Egypt: I guess that the only positive outcome of all that was the scientific expedition which accompanied the army (no less that 167 people)...

About Napoleon: I remember that in Gilberte Cournand's "Beauté de la danse", the first book about dance I have ever read (I was 9 or 10), there were some excerpts of a book of memories of a ballet master who taught Napoleon and Marie-Louise, I don't remember the details but it was quite funny (and Napoleon didn't seem to be a good dancer ;) )

#12 Mel Johnson

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Posted 10 April 2003 - 02:48 AM

Estelle, you are quite correct; of the original expedition to Egypt, Napoleon brought over a thousand civilians of various specialties, and well over 150 were the first methodical egyptologists. There was another benefit, though, in art, as an Egyptian Revival took place in the arts, which was to presage the Tut Craze of the 1920s. And although the army surrendered, the French scientists remained for years, and their initial baseline research on things Egyptian is vital to any modern study of that country.

Maybe the writers of the screenplay had read the account of the dancing-master, and that could have affected the selection of Clavier as the title character!

#13 GWTW

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Posted 13 April 2003 - 11:02 PM

One of the oddest things when visiting the amazing and stupefyingly massive Temple of Karnak in Egypt is looking up at the impossibly high pillars and seeing 200 yr. old graffiti written and engraved by French and English soldiers in the 5000 yr. old pillars. The graffiti itself is so high up because when the French "discovered" the temple, it was buried in the sand.
Of course, this graffiti really is just a footnote in history compared to the incredible beauty, grandeur and general magnificence of the whole Luxor/Valley of the Kings area.

P.S. In case you hadn't noticed, I would truly reccomend a visit to Egypt (and to Israel - while you're in the area):)


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