Episode 88

Reviewing Napoleon with a World-Famous Napoleon Reenactor: What Hollywood Got Right and Wrong

🎙 Warning: These new shirts may cause history-inspired travel

In this episode of our podcast, "Talk With History", join our hosts Scott and Jenn in an insightful discussion as they are joined by Mark Schneider, a renowned reenactor of Napoleon Bonaparte. Tapping into Mark's vast knowledge of Napoleon, the trio delves deep into the intricacies, context, and potential inaccuracies of Ridley Scott's epic portrayal of Napoleon in his film, "Napoleon". They discuss the character dynamics, the costumes, and key moments in the film while providing a historical filter to it all. Mark, who has been passionately portraying Napoleon at events and history museums for years, shares personal experiences from his journey, adding an engaging, real-world touch to the episode. This episode serves as a treat for history buffs and cinema enthusiasts alike, promising a captivating conversation about one of history's most fascinating figures.

Video version of this podcast

0:00 Napoleon Review

00:41 Introduction and Welcome

01:33 Introducing the Guest: Mark Schneider

02:11 Mark's Journey into Historical Reenactment

03:32 Mark's Experiences as a Napoleon Reenactor

05:59 Mark's Role in Colonial Williamsburg

07:11 Discussion on Historical Accuracy in Reenactment

11:13 Mark's Memorable Moments as a Reenactor

13:30 Discussion on Historical Costumes

17:33 Review and Discussion of the Movie 'Napoleon'

28:04 Discussing the Movie's Portrayal of Napoleon and Josephine's Relationship

28:45 Analyzing the Historical Accuracy of Napoleon's Love for Josephine

29:17 Debunking the Movie's Depiction of Napoleon's Infidelity and Divorce

30:39 Exploring the Importance of Heir and Infidelity in French Royalty

32:33 Understanding the Emotional Depth of Napoleon's Love Letters

35:02 Critiquing the Movie's Representation of Napoleon's Military Tactics

35:56 Discussing the Movie's Cinematic Choices and Historical Inaccuracies

36:33 Reflecting on the Movie's Portrayal of Napoleon's Military Campaigns

38:48 Analyzing the Movie's Depiction of Napoleon's Downfall

45:16 Final Thoughts and Ratings on the Movie

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Transcript
Jenn:

So what is your best depiction of Napoleon then?

Mark:

There are several and in fact, Le Figaro magazine, newspaper one

Mark:

of the biggest ones in France did a listing of the hundred best Napoleons

Mark:

in film and I, I don't want to, I don't want to brag, but I made number 27,

Scott:

All right.

Mark:

In, in my role with Vincent Castle in the, the Emperor of Paris

Mark:

and and Joaquin Phoenix was 28.

Scott:

Welcome to Talk With History.

Scott:

I'm your host, Scott, here with my wife and historian, Jen.

Scott:

Hello.

Scott:

Now, our regular listeners may remember some of our Watch With

Scott:

History series, where we talk about the historical facts and fiction

Scott:

of some of your favorite movies.

Scott:

We've only done a couple, but we're glad to bring it back today.

Scott:

So on today's Watch With History episode, we're diving into the world

Scott:

of cinema to dissect and discuss the much anticipated 2023 film Napoleon,

Scott:

a cinematic journey into the life and times of the legendary French emperor.

Scott:

Join us as we unravel the threads of history woven into this blockbuster,

Scott:

exploring the triumphs, the tribulations, and the undeniable charisma of one of

Scott:

history's most captivating figures.

Scott:

Now, what makes this episode extra special is that we have a fantastic

Scott:

guest on board, a man who doesn't just study history, but lives and breathes it.

Scott:

The renowned Napoleon reenactor, Mark Schneider.

Scott:

Welcome, Mark.

Scott:

Thank you.

Mark:

Thank you.

Mark:

Thanks for having

Scott:

Yeah, Mark brings a unique perspective to the table, having done

Scott:

the iconic bye corn hat stepped into the boots of Napoleon himself.

Scott:

Get ready for some incredible insights from someone who's literally

Scott:

walked in the emperor's shoes.

Scott:

So, Mark, thank you again for joining us.

Scott:

We're really excited to have you.

Scott:

Jen's been like talking about this for weeks now, and we both

Scott:

finally got to see the movie.

Scott:

So, so Can you kind of talk, tell us our audience a little bit about who

Scott:

you are, kind of the different figures that you reenact for and, and kind

Scott:

of how you came about to play in the part of Napoleon for quite some time.

Mark:

Absolutely, and thank you again for having me.

Mark:

So, the Napoleon character has been a lifelong passion.

Mark:

my mother used to say, and my mother was French and my dad's American,

Mark:

that's my French connection.

Mark:

My mother would often say that she never knew a time that I

Mark:

was not interested in Napoleon.

Mark:

I just seemed to have this fascination.

Mark:

One of my French cousins gave me a little toy soldier of Napoleon.

Mark:

He's actually right up here.

Mark:

When I was like two or three years old and I was hooked ever since when kids

Mark:

at school had Batman and Superman on their desk, I had Napoleon on my desk.

Scott:

That's

Mark:

So one day I came home from school and I was really upset because

Mark:

I've always been short and people made fun of my shortness and my big nose.

Mark:

And my mother said to me, you know, the only people who have who are short and

Mark:

have big noses are kings and emperors.

Mark:

And so maybe that was the, the catalyst to make me become Napoleon because

Mark:

I collected everything Napoleon read everything I possibly could on him.

Mark:

I war gamed, I ran around town as one of his soldiers, but it wouldn't be until.

Mark:

I became an adult when I started to actively pursue reenacting and I was

Mark:

given the opportunity to become Napoleon.

Mark:

I actually was in the U.

Mark:

S.

Mark:

Army, and two weeks after I got out I came to Colonial Williamsburg to work.

Mark:

at the largest living history museum in the world.

Mark:

And I joined this reenacting group, which was outside of colonial Williamsburg,

Mark:

and we portrayed Napoleon's seventh, who SARS, which was a French cavalry

Mark:

regiment during the Napoleonic wars.

Mark:

Well, one event we did, they needed somebody to portray Napoleon.

Mark:

And I had attended the Napoleonic society of America conference, and I had acquired.

Mark:

a costume that was worn by Albert in the 1927 silent film, Napoleon,

Scott:

Oh, cool.

Mark:

fit me perfectly.

Mark:

It was, it was incredible.

Mark:

In fact, it fit me so well that the guy who was selling it gave

Mark:

me this ridiculous discount.

Mark:

He's like, you, you're meant to have this.

Mark:

And I picked up the iconic, buy corn and put the rest of the kit together.

Mark:

And I started portraying Napoleon.

Mark:

It became very, very popular.

Mark:

We did history channel.

Mark:

Documentaries and we were given opportunities to, to do a bit

Mark:

of traveling, did the Louisiana Purchase with Thomas Jefferson.

Mark:

But in 2005, I was given a a phone call by a group in Belgium and they

Mark:

were they were looking for a Napoleon.

Mark:

In fact the guy called me, his name is Mark Van Meerbeek and

Mark:

said is this Monsieur Schneider we would like you to play Napoleon

Mark:

on the battlefield at Waterloo.

Mark:

And I hung up on him.

Mark:

I thought he was, I thought it was like one of my friends, like, kidding with me.

Mark:

But he called back, thank goodness, and I sent him a resume, and I started to

Mark:

go to Europe from that moment forward.

Mark:

So in 2005 is where it all really began.

Mark:

I, I really have to give thanks to Colonial Williamsburg for teaching

Mark:

me the art of living history, of character interpretation, of

Mark:

nation building, as we call it.

Mark:

And because I don't think they had seen that in reenactment before, where you

Mark:

take on the actual role of one of these generals or characters from history

Mark:

and immerse yourself, not only with the public, but with the reenactors

Mark:

so, That that's how it all began.

Mark:

And so it's taken me to, to Belgium.

Mark:

It's taken me to France.

Mark:

It's taken me to Russia.

Mark:

It's taken me to Germany, to Italy, Spain, Czech Republic.

Mark:

In fact, I'm leaving for the Czech Republic on Wednesday to recreate.

Mark:

The Battle of Austerlitz so that's my background on Napoleon.

Mark:

Of course, I omitted a little bit about my work in Colonial Williamsburg.

Mark:

I've been in the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation for 26 years.

Mark:

And much of that time I have been portraying the Marquis de Lafayette.

Mark:

So another Frenchman.

Mark:

Who I do on a daily basis in a variety of different performances

Mark:

inside theaters, outdoor theaters riding horses, immersing the public

Mark:

with the history of the American Revolution and Lafayette's part in it.

Mark:

So that should bring everybody up to date on what I'm all about.

Scott:

that's perfect.

Scott:

I mean, really showing kind of from, and that's, I mean, you

Scott:

kind of hit all the high points that we ask a lot of our guests.

Scott:

You know, I can tell it's, it's, it's very possible that you've

Scott:

spoken in front of a camera before.

Scott:

But

Jenn:

that's what I was gonna say, like, you, you've Practiced

Jenn:

it so much and the thing is you get better the more you do it.

Jenn:

I want to also say Mark is also an equestrian.

Jenn:

He is a fantastic horseman, so it really adds to the role when you

Jenn:

play Napoleon and you're on the horse and you also speak fluent French.

Jenn:

And so.

Jenn:

Yes.

Jenn:

And so, I mean, again, those things make you so much more authentic

Jenn:

to playing those characters.

Mark:

I think it's one thing to know the who, what, when, where, why, you know,

Mark:

when you were born, what battles you fought in, who are you married to what

Mark:

were some pivotal moments in your life, but it's something else to immerse you.

Mark:

Yourself into the 18th or 19th century with the things that they did, you know,

Mark:

whether it's you know, the knowledge of the, the layout of the city of Paris

Mark:

in 1784, when Napoleon was attending the École Militaire Royale or, you

Mark:

know, you can't say, well, I made a left at the Eiffel Tower and then I

Mark:

went by the Georges Pompidou Center because those things weren't there.

Scott:

Mhm.

Mark:

of the uniform riding horses, you know, horses have no patriotism.

Mark:

They will throw a prince just as soon as they'll throw a pauper.

Mark:

So you have to practice and practice and practice.

Mark:

It's the only way you're going to become...

Mark:

Proficient at riding or fencing using the weapons, swords or musket or firing a

Mark:

cannon, you know, Napoleon was considered to be the greatest artillerist in history.

Mark:

If I don't know how to fire a cannon, then I'm not going to

Mark:

be a very convincing Napoleon.

Mark:

The same holds true with the, the horses on these reenactment battlefields

Mark:

that the cannons are going off and the horse doesn't know it's it's

Mark:

make believe that it's a reenact.

Mark:

It's frightening to them.

Mark:

So you have to use all your skills to you know, stay on, stay on the horse's

Mark:

back and look as impressive as possible.

Jenn:

When I see you portray those those characters, I feel

Jenn:

like you just embody them.

Jenn:

Little side note, one of my greatest experiences with you, Mark was even

Jenn:

before I even met you personally and was my birthday a year ago, I went

Jenn:

to Colonial Williamsburg by myself and my birthday is in December.

Jenn:

It's like the big first week of December and I was walking down the street.

Jenn:

by myself and you were walking down the street by yourself as Lafayette and

Jenn:

like nobody was really there because it's like a weekday in December and I

Jenn:

felt like this is my birthday present.

Jenn:

I get to talk to Lafayette and you and I talked for like 10 minutes

Jenn:

and I was like nobody was around and I'm like this is the greatest gift.

Scott:

I remember she came home because I think it was like a Wednesday

Scott:

so I was working and she came, she came home, I came home and she was

Scott:

riding so high off of that it was, you know, I was, it was so funny.

Scott:

It was so

Mark:

That's, that's awesome.

Mark:

Well, happy birthday in advance.

Jenn:

you.

Jenn:

Thank you.

Jenn:

But I feel like you really do.

Jenn:

You embody those those characters so well that I really do feel like I'm

Jenn:

interacting with the Marquis de Lafayette.

Jenn:

Even in today's time, we can we can pick up the conversation anywhere.

Jenn:

I think we spoke about your Your tour, when you came back to America and

Jenn:

toward America later in life, even though that's not the age you were

Jenn:

portraying, you still, we still talked about that time in Lafayette's life.

Jenn:

And it's just amazing how much, you know, and how quickly you're able to jump

Jenn:

around and, and have that conversation.

Jenn:

So I think I give you guys a lot of credit for what you do.

Jenn:

You make Colonial Williamsburg for me.

Jenn:

that much more enjoyable and what a great experience being there.

Mark:

Well, I greatly appreciate that.

Mark:

That's kind of you to say.

Mark:

I think all of us in our team in Colonial Williamsburg, who are

Mark:

part of the Nation Builders, really you know, to use an expression

Mark:

that we would use, we're all in.

Mark:

You can't do half measures.

Mark:

You have to go all the way and not worry about feeling foolish or silly.

Mark:

But I think most of us, Would be reading books about the 18th and 19th

Mark:

century anyway, even if we didn't work for Colonial Williamsburg.

Mark:

So there's a genuine passion there and love for history.

Mark:

I often say I didn't choose history.

Mark:

History chose me because there hasn't been a time where I have

Mark:

not been fascinated with history.

Mark:

You know, it's interesting.

Mark:

I can forget like what I had for breakfast, but you know, when

Mark:

I wake up in the morning, I'm like, wow, today's the 27th.

Mark:

On this day, Napoleon's troops were crossing the Berenzina river.

Mark:

To get out of Russia during the horrible retreat of 1812.

Mark:

You know, that's what pops into my head.

Mark:

And you know, I'm, I can be forgetful of so many other things, but when

Mark:

it comes to dates and history and great moments in people's lives

Mark:

I just don't seem to forget them.

Jenn:

Is there a story that stands out to you like a funny story or something that

Jenn:

happened that you're that you were like, I'm never going to forget this or being

Jenn:

at this moment right here and doing this and saying this was there was a particular

Jenn:

moment for you that really resonates is playing either a Napoleon or Lafayette.

Mark:

Sure.

Mark:

In fact, there's many, but I won't trouble you with too many.

Mark:

One really, really great moment in my life was that in 2006, I was

Mark:

contacted by a gentleman who lives in Berlin Berlin, Germany, and he wanted

Mark:

to do a publicity stunt for his his store, which is called Berlin Story.

Mark:

They sell books and...

Mark:

Paraphernalia that you can get that's reminiscent of Berlin.

Mark:

And so, he flew me over and he, what he wanted me to do was get

Mark:

on a white horse as Napoleon and march through the Brandenburg gate

Mark:

200 years after Napoleon did it.

Mark:

And he arranged to have the key to the city given to me.

Mark:

Well, this went viral.

Mark:

And there were over 20, 000 people there.

Mark:

So, I can show, I can show you some pictures, but it was surreal, because

Mark:

here, I get on this white horse, and I've never been on him before.

Mark:

I don't know if he's gonna go ballistic, throw me, you know, killed

Mark:

in front of the Brandenburg Gate but it just worked out perfectly.

Mark:

And the, the press was so massive.

Mark:

And everybody was pushed up against this horse.

Mark:

I'm surprised he didn't kick or bite or, but it just worked.

Mark:

And, you know, we, we had 20, 000 Berliners celebrating one of the

Mark:

worst moments in their history when Napoleon occupied the city.

Mark:

And they gave me the key to this.

Mark:

I had to give it back, of course, but but it was such a surreal

Mark:

moment that is imprinted in my mind.

Mark:

What, what a.

Mark:

Great, great opportunity.

Mark:

I will never forget that one.

Mark:

But fortunately, with this Napoleon character, or even Lafayette character,

Mark:

I do get a lot of wonderful opportunities to to have these moments that hopefully,

Mark:

God willing, I won't ever forget.

Scott:

Yeah, no, that that's that's an amazing one.

Scott:

And I can only imagine some of the other opportunities that you've had

Scott:

that are just so unique to what you do.

Jenn:

And real quick, before we dive into the movie, I just want to ask about

Jenn:

the uniforms because they're fantastic.

Jenn:

And so I know for Colonial Williamsburg, they take care of your uniform,

Jenn:

especially the wig Lafayette wears.

Jenn:

You have, like, the best wig makers in the nation who take care of your wig.

Jenn:

For Napoleon, you have a couple different ones, right?

Jenn:

And you keep one overseas, you keep one here in America.

Jenn:

How does that work?

Jenn:

Mm

Scott:

hmm.

Mark:

So with the yes for 20 Williamsburg, we have a fantastic team

Mark:

with our historic clothing department.

Mark:

The wig makers are magnificent.

Mark:

They do such a great job.

Mark:

In fact, I have like three or four different wigs that I use and we just keep

Mark:

rotating them, but they do a spectacular job historically accurate and everything.

Mark:

And then the clothing is tailor made to me.

Mark:

You know, yet another responsibility for portraying these characters.

Mark:

You know, you need to stay as fit as you possibly can to try to really

Mark:

look the part because, you know, nobody wants a chubby Lafayette.

Mark:

So maybe, maybe Napoleon in his later years, but I try to keep

Mark:

the 1805 physique as best I can.

Mark:

But with the Napoleon one, yes, I keep a couple of them in Europe.

Mark:

So I can, I don't have to transport them every time and the

Mark:

wear and tear that goes with it.

Mark:

And I have a great team over there that they'd house them and then

Mark:

they will bring them to the event.

Mark:

So for example, going to Austerlitz, I will bring a uniform from the United

Mark:

States, but my hat is waiting for me.

Mark:

My saddle is waiting for me.

Mark:

My bridal is waiting for me.

Mark:

And my, naturally my sword is waiting for me.

Mark:

I can't bring that on board.

Mark:

But those were all tailor made for me.

Mark:

And, you know, Napoleon had a variety of different uniforms, from the 1790s Italian

Mark:

campaign to the Egyptian campaign, and then the more iconic Chasseur Impériale,

Mark:

the green one, or the Grenadier à pied that he wore usually just on Sundays.

Mark:

So, I have all of those and the, of course, iconic Reddingoat, that gray

Mark:

coat that he, he quite often wore.

Mark:

so Yeah, it takes time to acquire all of those things, to get them tailor made

Mark:

and you know, sometimes they need to be replaced, the britches, or the waistcoat

Mark:

or your stock or your boots, you know, I have a pair of Italian boots that cost me

Mark:

a thousand euros, but they're worth every every penny because they, they are, they

Mark:

are Napoleon's boots they're magnificent.

Scott:

that's, that's

Jenn:

amazing.

Jenn:

That's amazing.

Jenn:

And I mean, so we'll talk about the movie, but the costuming in the movie to me

Jenn:

is all is reminiscent of the costumes.

Jenn:

You wear because you're you look just as good as what they

Jenn:

had in the Napoleon movie.

Jenn:

And I will, I do think the costumes of Napoleon should win an Oscar.

Jenn:

I mean, they really were amazing.

Jenn:

But when you, when I see you in your full gala, you know, for Lafayette or

Jenn:

for Napoleon, you look just as good.

Jenn:

It really is impressive to see you in full uniform.

Mark:

Thank you.

Mark:

Yeah, again, it's just it's I think before you even open your mouth on a

Mark:

stage when you get up on stage, you should already have told the public

Mark:

who you are and and be as confident as you possibly can in those clothes

Mark:

and the clothes need to look good.

Mark:

If they're ill fitting, if they're baggy, if they're look like they were

Mark:

worn by your older, bigger brother.

Mark:

And then you kind of you've lost a little bit of an opportunity to be

Mark:

that much better as that character.

Jenn:

Well, and we, I know that you just saw the premiere and now you

Jenn:

were in Quebec for the premiere.

Jenn:

You portrayed

Mark:

I was in, in Montreal.

Jenn:

Okay.

Jenn:

Okay.

Mark:

Yes.

Mark:

So in the, the, the, the region of Quebec though.

Mark:

So I did, and then I saw it on opening night here in Williamsburg as well.

Mark:

So I've seen it twice.

Mark:

I was going to go last night again, and then I, I told myself not to.

Mark:

So,

Scott:

Well, we, we were, we had to kind of trade off kid days and just that and

Scott:

the other, but I'm going to give, I'm going to give a quick summary for, for our

Scott:

listeners, just to kind of remind them.

Scott:

the movie, , directed by Ridley Scott and starring Joaquin Phoenix

Scott:

as Napoleon Bonaparte and Vanessa Kirby as Empress Josephine.

Scott:

Napoleon is a historical epic that explores the rise and fall of the iconic

Scott:

French emperor through the lens of his tumultuous relationship with his wife.

Scott:

Set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, the film chronicles

Scott:

Napoleon's meteoric ascent from a young Corsican artillery officer to

Scott:

Emperor of France, showcasing his military genius and political ambition.

Scott:

However, the film also delves into the complex and often Volatile nature of

Scott:

Napoleon's relationship with Josephine, a marriage plagued by infidelity,

Scott:

jealousy, and the pressures of power.

Scott:

Napoleon's relentless pursuit, of power and his insatiable desire

Scott:

for glory lead him to conquer much of Europe, but his ambitions

Scott:

ultimately prove to be his undoing.

Scott:

As his empire expands, so does seemingly his ego, and he becomes increasingly

Scott:

isolated and Somewhat paranoid, at least in the movie, his disastrous 1812 invasion

Scott:

of Russia marks a turning point, and he's eventually forced to abdicate and

Scott:

exiled to the remote island of Elba.

Scott:

Despite his downfall, Napoleon remains a figure of fascination and intrigue,

Scott:

and the film offers a nuanced and compelling portrait of a man who both

Scott:

shaped And was shaped by history.

Scott:

So, , I have to ask, , what did you guys think?

Scott:

Jen told me a little bit about what she thought, but Mark, what were some of your

Scott:

first thoughts when you got to see it?

Mark:

So I can't see the forest through the trees from the get go.

Mark:

I was like, no, no, no!

Mark:

It but I had to let it go because, you know, even films like The Patriot with

Mark:

Mel Gibson set during the American Revolution in the Southern Theater of

Mark:

Operations, I are entertaining, even if they are not historically accurate.

Mark:

So, early on in the film, I had to say, okay, he didn't witness

Mark:

the execution of Marie Antoinette.

Mark:

Okay.

Mark:

In 1793, he didn't get the command for the artillery at

Mark:

Toulon in Paris by Paul Barat.

Mark:

There, it just, the, the list kept going on and on and on of these inaccuracies.

Mark:

Even the assaults on too long didn't occur that way.

Mark:

And there was a, a, a, a, a brief moment where I thought that they were

Mark:

going to get something very obscure.

Mark:

Correct?

Mark:

When Napoleon goes over the top at the attack at too long, early

Mark:

in the in the film where he was stabbed in the thigh with a pike.

Mark:

And I see him fighting hand to hand combat and it never happens, so, it

Mark:

just made me a little bit frustrated.

Mark:

So, my...

Mark:

My thoughts after seeing it for the first time up in Montreal were

Mark:

a little bit disbelief that It's such a great story the real story.

Mark:

Why did you want to change it?

Mark:

I I thought the underlying theme of this film is that it's a love story

Mark:

It's a love story between napoleon and josephine And I thought vanessa

Mark:

kirby, did an outstanding job in the role of Josephine really, she showed

Mark:

the many, many layers of the empress.

Mark:

I don't know if Joachim was directed to portray his Napoleon like that, but

Mark:

he was a bit two dimensional to me.

Mark:

I, I think, you know, Napoleon has...

Mark:

There's so much to Napoleon that I don't think you can play him just one

Mark:

way So, I didn't see that coming out of Joachim, either through direction with

Mark:

Ridley Scott or out of his own choices.

Mark:

There were certain things that I just thought were absurd, such as

Mark:

Napoleon leading cavalry charges.

Mark:

At Austerlitz and at Waterloo, which never happened it, it just, I'm not

Mark:

quite sure why they put that in.

Mark:

I didn't, I don't see how it it moved the narrative forward with

Mark:

something like that happening.

Mark:

But again, just letting it go.

Mark:

It's, it's fiction based upon history.

Mark:

So why not?

Mark:

Maybe Joachim wanted to lead a cavalry charge.

Mark:

I don't know.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

And, and that's actually one of the things that when Jen, she

Scott:

saw, I think, opening night.

Scott:

Yep.

Scott:

And she came home and I was like, okay, yeah, give it to me.

Scott:

She said it's a bunch of the same stuff that you did, right?

Scott:

And we, you know, historically they compress things or they put him in,

Scott:

in spots where he wasn't actually, which is relatively typical of, of some

Scott:

history movies that we, we talk about.

Scott:

But one of the things that she.

Scott:

That she mentioned specifically the stuck out in my mind that you touched

Scott:

on was they didn't really portray how much his, his men loved him, like,

Scott:

like truly loved him as, as a leader.

Scott:

Right.

Scott:

And, and you had, you had talked about that.

Scott:

Yeah.

Jenn:

Like, so same thing.

Jenn:

I feel the same way you do mark.

Jenn:

Like I love a good historic.

Jenn:

Movie, even if it's not accurate, if it can really pull me in like gladiator,

Jenn:

like I can feel for the character I I'm all in and I really wanted them to show

Jenn:

the love of Napoleon because I'm sure you must feel this when you've been

Jenn:

portraying Napoleon is this his men.

Jenn:

Loved him, right?

Jenn:

And I wanted to see more of his countrymen loving him.

Jenn:

Napoleon did much more than just win wars, right?

Jenn:

Napoleon helped, you know, he, he brought the Rosetta Stone.

Jenn:

He helped with the civil code of France.

Jenn:

Like he was doing so much with the, with the, with the money system in France.

Jenn:

Like he really wanted to build a country for his people and

Jenn:

people loved him for that.

Jenn:

And I couldn't quite see the love of his people.

Jenn:

I couldn't quite see, you know, even the love story with him and Josephine.

Jenn:

It seemed, I wasn't quite sure, like there's a codependency going on here.

Jenn:

Like it really wasn't interesting where I think trying to tell both stories.

Jenn:

You did, you didn't tell both stories.

Jenn:

Well, you know, you told both stories.

Jenn:

Okay.

Jenn:

I think if you were to try to go with one or the other, maybe you could have

Jenn:

told one really well, but trying to tell both of them, it didn't quite go as well.

Jenn:

Although I do believe she's the best Josephine I've ever seen on screen.

Mark:

She's quite

Jenn:

she was, she was, but like you said, like, even in the beginning

Jenn:

with Marie Antoinette, I was like, okay, is this Marie Antoinette?

Jenn:

Because she did not look like that when she's beheaded, right?

Jenn:

She's been in prison for a year.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Mark:

her hair

Jenn:

They cut her hair.

Jenn:

Yeah, she's wearing like just a white shift.

Jenn:

She looks horrible.

Jenn:

And then you don't even have to have Napoleon there.

Jenn:

Like they could have just showed that.

Jenn:

And you could have understood what France is going through.

Jenn:

And so I was like, okay, okay, so he must be going for some kind Nopal You

Jenn:

know, reaction here with Napoleon there.

Jenn:

But then, and then getting into like, he's running away from his people.

Jenn:

He's afraid of his people.

Jenn:

He's not quite sure how to lead the people.

Jenn:

And I'm like, no, that, that wasn't Napoleon.

Jenn:

And so I felt like that was where.

Jenn:

Joaquin Phoenix was kind of losing the character and they, I think they

Jenn:

made him look more like a tyrant

Mark:

absolutely

Jenn:

and he was very enlightened, like the man loved theater.

Jenn:

He wanted, he, he loves, you know, to be well versed.

Jenn:

He loved literature.

Jenn:

He wanted to educate.

Jenn:

I mean, think about the Louvre.

Jenn:

today is where Napoleon lived.

Jenn:

It's, it's, he brought in all the art.

Jenn:

He brought like, he wanted to have all of that culture in France and

Jenn:

it made it, I didn't see that from the character that he was playing.

Scott:

Yes.

Mark:

challenge to follow it.

Mark:

Because you start in 1793 and too long yet there was no map that kind

Mark:

of directed you to where too long is if you don't know, it's on the, I

Mark:

mean, you, you're Navy people, so you do , but, but you know, it's, it's

Mark:

a southern port, the Mediterranean.

Mark:

But why was it significant?

Mark:

They didn't really play that out, him watching, moran, go to the guillotine.

Mark:

Okay, you can put him there.

Mark:

But what purpose is it serving?

Mark:

I think the purpose it could have served is Napoleon saying, beware the mob,

Mark:

beware the people and their reactions.

Mark:

They might go to excess.

Mark:

I think that's a great learning moment or teaching moment or

Mark:

revealing moment for who Napoleon was.

Mark:

You 1795 and he destroys with the what they call the width of grape shot.

Mark:

Yeah.

Mark:

And he fires upon the royalist mob and then we jump, we skip the entire Italian

Mark:

campaign, 1796 and 1797, which is the most pivotal time for him and Josephine.

Mark:

You know, he gets married on March the 9th, 1796, and he goes

Mark:

right after to lead his army.

Mark:

And that's where you could have had that.

Mark:

That building moment to show him and his men you know, it could have been nice to

Mark:

have a veteran that was with him in 1796.

Mark:

And then we follow him to 1805 at Austerlitz, then we

Mark:

follow him to Russia in 1812.

Mark:

And then he maybe dies in 1815 that we see this relationship, why they love this guy.

Mark:

pivotal scene when Napoleon returns from Elba and he meets the

Mark:

soldiers of the Fifth Regiment.

Mark:

They even get it wrong.

Mark:

I think that some of the, the, the script writer didn't catch it, but

Mark:

he goes, soldiers of my Fifth Army.

Mark:

And then in the next scene, he goes, soldiers of my Fifth Regiment.

Mark:

I mean, do you not know the difference between regiment and army?

Mark:

My head exploded in the theater.

Mark:

And, and that scene is so pivotal because, you know, Soldiers of the

Mark:

Fifth and he opens up his reddingoat.

Mark:

Do you recognize me?

Mark:

I am your emperor.

Mark:

If anyone wishes to kill his emperor, here I am.

Mark:

And it was just floppy.

Mark:

It was poorly done.

Mark:

I, I, it could have been done so much better.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

The, the, as as Jen and I were, were, were chatting a couple days ago.

Scott:

Like I, I think you pointed out, they could have probably inserted

Scott:

a couple, a couple key things that really would've tied it a little

Scott:

bit more together, even for me.

Scott:

Right.

Scott:

I went in Mm-Hmm.

Scott:

, you know, with not, not knowing a lot of the history, not, I, I just assumed

Scott:

like, okay, they're gonna compress stuff.

Scott:

You know?

Scott:

I heard a little bit from Jen.

Scott:

But even for me when they came to that moment when he returned from from

Scott:

Elba, I was like They don't really explain why these people all of a

Scott:

sudden just were like, yeah, sure.

Scott:

We're going to follow you instead, right?

Scott:

They never really led up to that and they never explained it.

Scott:

It's just like, yep, I'm just going to say a couple of words

Scott:

and sure, you know, let's do it.

Scott:

Napoleon.

Scott:

And and so even for me, right, the, the, the kind of the non history nerd.

Scott:

as we say often on this podcast, even for me, it kind of, it

Scott:

missed a couple little things.

Scott:

I felt like they were really close.

Scott:

Now, my, my one question to you, you before we started recording, you

Scott:

kind of mentioned the, the letters between Napoleon and Josephine.

Scott:

Do you think that they got their, their relationship kind of relatively close?

Scott:

Was it that kind of volatile?

Scott:

Cause it, it seemed pretty volatile in the, in the movie.

Mark:

I didn't like with the divorce scene in which is supposed to take

Mark:

place in 1809, but I think they had it in 1807 when he slapped her.

Scott:

Mm-Hmm.

Mark:

that was a no go.

Mark:

I, I think.

Mark:

When Napoleon met Josephine in 1795 and then married her in 1796, he was the

Mark:

one who was head over heels for her.

Mark:

She was not so into him.

Mark:

I think it was a marriage of convenience and she, you know, just survived

Mark:

the, the terror of the revolution.

Mark:

But when he goes on that Italian campaign, these letters that he writes, sometimes

Mark:

three or four per day sometimes two or three sentences are so passionate.

Mark:

They are so loving.

Mark:

It just, he, he absolutely adores her.

Mark:

And when he, they did get it right when Napoleon was in Egypt

Mark:

and his friend Junot tells him of Josephine's infidelity with Hippolyte

Mark:

Charles and, and that crushed him.

Mark:

But all throughout the movie, they made it seem like, Oh, well, Napoleon

Mark:

is leaving Egypt because he's upset at Josephine with her lover, Hippolyte

Mark:

Charles, and he has to go back to France.

Mark:

Or when he's on Elba, he's worried about Josephine's health,

Mark:

so he has to escape from Elba.

Mark:

Those are not the reasons that he did those things.

Mark:

But I, I think...

Mark:

What they were trying to do was in the, in the scenes of Napoleon

Mark:

and Josephine together, the, the lovemaking scenes and stuff like that.

Mark:

I think they were trying to show that passion, but it, it really did not come

Mark:

across as the passion from the letters.

Mark:

It made him look like a, a little bit of a monster with her.

Mark:

And I, I don't think that's, again, it's historical fiction based on fact,

Mark:

but I don't think he got that right.

Jenn:

yeah.

Jenn:

No, I a hundred percent agree.

Jenn:

It made him look like a brute with her, and he wasn't that way with her.

Jenn:

And she was already, she had already passed by the time he goes to Elba.

Jenn:

And so that was interesting that they had done that.

Jenn:

I was like, oh, that's.

Jenn:

Interesting timeline there.

Jenn:

And like you said, he never would have, he didn't hit her during the divorce.

Jenn:

He never would have done that.

Jenn:

And honestly, the infidelities I try to stress with people, it's, it's French

Jenn:

and I'm not trying to say that the French people for infidelity is the

Jenn:

norm, but infidelity is very accepted, especially with Royalty and so much.

Jenn:

So when you think of du Barry, who has such a status place, the, the mistress to

Jenn:

Louis the 14th, like it's a very, it's, it's a status place to be a, a mistress.

Jenn:

And that's even what Josephine was when he first meets her.

Jenn:

She was a mistress to a political high standing

Mark:

Paul Berat, yeah.

Jenn:

And so the infidelity, even though he's heartbroken about her

Jenn:

infidelity, he's also being, you know, He's not being faithful, either.

Jenn:

I think the biggest thing for them was they would never ever

Jenn:

have a child and together.

Jenn:

And so and I don't know what it was.

Jenn:

People not sure exactly why.

Jenn:

I give a lot of different reasons, especially with Napoleon being gone a lot.

Jenn:

And she's, you know, she's in her thirties when they marry, but And then

Jenn:

he's gone for long periods of time because they can never conceive a child.

Jenn:

And then he does have some children out of wedlock, so he can have children.

Jenn:

It's that whole idea.

Jenn:

And that is another royal idea that you have to have a legitimate heir.

Jenn:

And because he's emperor, he needs to secure this lineage, this

Jenn:

lineage with a legitimate heir.

Jenn:

And so that's the heartbreak that he, they are a power couple together.

Jenn:

Even, you know, she has come to really Believe and trust in him.

Jenn:

He has come to believe and trust in her.

Jenn:

She's given him political access, help him climb.

Jenn:

She he's given her protection, helped her climb.

Jenn:

She became an empress of France and they really do appreciate

Jenn:

who they are to each other.

Jenn:

Plus.

Jenn:

the love, which I love, Mark.

Jenn:

We're all military.

Jenn:

I tell people when you're deployed or when you're away from somebody,

Jenn:

boy, that love will come flowing out.

Mark:

Absolutely,

Jenn:

You appreciate someone so much more when you're not together.

Jenn:

That's why I think those love letters, they're like,

Jenn:

they're the first love letters.

Jenn:

Like everyone in deployment who's writing their love letters home via email.

Jenn:

Look at Napoleon's writing.

Mark:

exactly.

Mark:

nO, I'm, I'm with you on that.

Mark:

That's a, that's so true.

Mark:

The you know, I think it hurts Napoleon so badly when he heard

Mark:

about the Hippolyte Charles.

Mark:

And I don't think he was ever the same with her, but I do think once.

Mark:

Josephine put aside that lover she didn't have anymore, whereas Napoleon

Mark:

did in that 1802 time period when he becomes consul for life and then emperor

Mark:

you know, they have that window of, of, I think, happiness, you know, it's

Mark:

he, he's just become emperor, he's made her empress you know, he fights

Mark:

the battle of Austerlitz, his greatest victory, he then defeats the Prussians

Mark:

at Jena and Auerstadt and takes Berlin.

Mark:

But it was the Polish campaign where he met that, and they didn't even bring her

Mark:

up Maria Walerka and he had a child with her as well and by that time, I think

Mark:

Napoleon realized that Josephine was incapable of having any more children

Mark:

and for the purpose of, yeah, the, the lineage he was going to have to

Mark:

marry somebody who could have a child.

Mark:

But, you know, everything went downhill after that.

Mark:

It's interesting to note because they used to call Josephine Our Lady of Victories.

Mark:

The soldiers used to call her that.

Mark:

And you know, he did have his meteoric rise from 1795

Mark:

till he divorces her in 1809.

Mark:

And after 1809, things just start to fall apart.

Mark:

And it's I've often wondered about that, you know, the The, the luck that Josephine

Mark:

brought with Napoleon because, you know, 1809 campaign did not go terribly

Mark:

well, Spain 1810 11 was not going well, 1812 goes without saying, 1813 14 15.

Mark:

Things just really went downhill.

Mark:

So it's, it's, I think it's also telling, you know, Napoleon's last words for

Mark:

France l'armée, tête l'armée, Josephine.

Mark:

Last word he said, Josephine.

Mark:

I think that really speaks volumes.

Jenn:

I love, I love hearing you say that stuff in French.

Jenn:

Okay.

Jenn:

So, and I agree with you that, let's touch one more thing, what they, we

Jenn:

could, they could have done better.

Jenn:

Let's then, let's go to what they did right.

Jenn:

They should have had a map, Mark.

Jenn:

They should have had a map to show Napoleon's empire.

Jenn:

And then, like, they should have because I think that's impressive, too.

Jenn:

We should have been able to see the scale, right?

Jenn:

Like what he's doing across Europe.

Jenn:

And

Mark:

So how many people know where Austerlitz is?

Mark:

You know, I mean, really, do people know it's in the Czech Republic?

Scott:

exactly.

Mark:

and there was no Czech Republic in the time period of Napoleon.

Mark:

It's all part of Moravia or Bohemia part of the Austrian Empire.

Mark:

So I, I think, yeah, just for context, you know, crawl, walk, run.

Mark:

Let's make it simple for everybody who's watching this, from the

Mark:

Napoleonic scholar to the guy who's never heard of Napoleon before.

Scott:

Yeah,

Jenn:

absolutely.

Jenn:

So what did they get right?

Jenn:

What was what?

Jenn:

Something you're like, this is awesome.

Jenn:

Like, you know, I talked a little bit about the costumes, but I mean, those

Jenn:

fight scenes, Mark, like, and I wanted to ask you about the horse when he

Jenn:

gets the cannonball out of the horse,

Mark:

all.

Jenn:

but did that really happen?

Jenn:

I was like, I have to ask Mark about this.

Mark:

No, I mean, he had, he, he had several horses killed from under him.

Mark:

But I, I'd never seen that before.

Mark:

That was that was all Hollywood at its best.

Mark:

And then him reaching his hand to pull out, it looked like it

Mark:

was a three pounder, maybe a, I think, yeah, it was a three pounder

Mark:

that he pulls out of the horse.

Mark:

That was, that was interesting.

Mark:

An interesting choice.

Mark:

So the battle scenes were not accurate.

Mark:

So, Austerlitz was fascinating, because I've been to that battlefield more than

Mark:

any other battlefield in, in my life, and you know, I've gone over the terrain,

Mark:

and that's okay if you don't want to get the terrain, but the, the key problem

Mark:

with the battle scenes is that, They kept putting up these French tents.

Mark:

Now, Napoleon had a campaign tent that he would stay in periodically

Mark:

as they were on the march.

Mark:

And some of the, yeah, there was a whole layout of tents and stuff like that.

Mark:

But the tents would never be found, like, right on the battle lines.

Mark:

And that seems to be what Ridley Scott did with both Austerlitz

Mark:

Borodino in Russia, and with Waterloo.

Mark:

And also, the men, like, creating these entrenchments, Yes, in some Napoleonic

Mark:

battles, they did put up entrenchments, the use of the gabions, and defense works,

Mark:

and earthworks, and things like that but not for Austerlitz, uh, Austerlitz

Mark:

was a, it's a massive battlefield, and it was a battle of maneuver.

Mark:

And then a battle of annihilation at the end.

Mark:

And I just don't think they, you know, the whole idea with the lakes

Mark:

and him firing upon the lakes.

Mark:

Yes, those lakes are in the southern portion of the battlefield.

Mark:

They have since been drained and an archaeological dig was done in which

Mark:

they unearthed like three bodies.

Mark:

Three.

Mark:

One, two, three.

Mark:

And I think of the skeletal remains of a horse.

Mark:

So, were those pawns destroyed by canon?

Mark:

Probably, during the battle.

Mark:

But did they inflict the carnage that the movie showed?

Mark:

No, no they did not.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

Interesting.

Scott:

I mean, the one thing I will say, right, kind of being, you know, even for our

Scott:

YouTube channel for, for Watch With Walk With History, you know, kind of

Scott:

being the guy behind the scenes and, you know, trying my hand at, at, at, you

Scott:

know, Hobbyist cinematography, right?

Scott:

What I can teach myself.

Scott:

I did appreciate that.

Scott:

I mean, just the kind of the grand scale.

Scott:

That's why I really made the effort to go see it in the theater.

Scott:

This is absolutely like a ghost.

Scott:

Go see it in the theater type of movie.

Scott:

I love.

Scott:

I do love those.

Scott:

The grandiose feel of those battle scenes, whether or not they're accurate.

Scott:

I had no idea, right?

Scott:

but I, but I did appreciate him just purely from kind of like a Hollywood

Scott:

perspective of getting the scale and really honestly, like some of the

Scott:

carnage, you know, and one of the things that I was actually curious

Scott:

about was some of the battle tactics.

Scott:

At the end when they were doing the horse charge, and then I think it was the

Scott:

Was it the British that all of a sudden they, they kind of closed ranks around

Scott:

and the horses were running around them?

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

Is, is that, is that an actual tactic?

Mark:

That's an actual tactic, and that was what was done at the battlefield

Mark:

of Waterloo, but it's interesting to note that in the film, the British come

Mark:

out, out of their entrenchments to form Square, where the reality, if they had

Mark:

those entrenchments, they would probably be far safer In the entrenchments

Mark:

fending off cavalry then coming out dramatically and forming squares.

Mark:

So the, the British did form square at Waterloo and the French

Mark:

cavalry charged like 11 times and they didn't break the squares.

Mark:

So it was a, it was a pivotal moment in the battle.

Mark:

And the reason the cavalry charged was because Wellington, the Duke of

Mark:

Wellington, who commanded the British forces, he actually told his entire

Mark:

battle line to do an about face and to fall back a hundred paces.

Mark:

The French, Napoleon was ill during the Battle of Waterloo, and he left it to

Mark:

one of his subordinates Marshal Ney, and when Ney saw them Falling back.

Mark:

He felt they were in full retreat, so he immediately ordered the cavalry charge

Mark:

to pursue, which is the proper thing to do when you see an enemy retreating.

Mark:

You pursue them without letting them regroup or reform.

Mark:

That's one of the great roles of cavalry.

Mark:

And but it turns out that they were just retiring because they were getting such

Mark:

a pounding from the French artillery.

Mark:

And then they were able to successfully form squares and

Mark:

fend off the French cavalry.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

And to me, that's, that's just something that kind of stuck out to me, you know,

Scott:

because it was just something I hadn't seen before and I wondered if that,

Scott:

that was one of the accurate things.

Scott:

So that's, that's actually kind of pretty neat to know.

Jenn:

Well, I had read that Ripley, Ripley Scott the reason why he fires

Jenn:

the cannons onto the pyramids that never happened is he just wanted to portray.

Jenn:

that Napoleon took Egypt.

Jenn:

And I'm like, okay, you probably could have portrayed that with him

Jenn:

show finding the Rosetta stone.

Jenn:

Here you go.

Jenn:

I took Egypt.

Jenn:

I found the Rosetta stone.

Jenn:

So without doing the cannons, but again, cinematography and I read

Jenn:

with the men dying in the water.

Jenn:

And so dramatically you wanted to show how Napoleon had no regard for life and

Jenn:

even the right and so and even at the end of the movie when they talk about all the

Jenn:

lives lost in all the battles that was really what we've got wanted to hit you

Jenn:

with was how much Napoleon had no regard for his soldiers lives and I'm like,

Scott:

like,

Mark:

Yeah, he didn't explain that terribly well.

Mark:

And I think those statistics were taken out of context to you know, the whole

Mark:

idea of him firing upon the pyramids.

Mark:

I mean, whatever.

Mark:

It's dramatic effect.

Mark:

It seemed like he was bored.

Mark:

It would walk in Phoenix's portrayal of Napoleon in that particular scene

Mark:

as the Mamelukes and the Ottomans were, like, doing their rallying to,

Mark:

to, about to fight the French, and then he fires the, at the top of the

Mark:

pyramids, and they collapse on the, the Mamelukes and, and kill some of them.

Mark:

Yeah, they, they forget to tell you that he brought 150 people to study Egypt.

Mark:

It is the foundation for Egyptology.

Mark:

You've already brought up the Rosetta Stone.

Mark:

Which will be deciphered by a Frenchman, Champollion.

Mark:

And you know, so many discoveries were made on that Egyptian campaign.

Mark:

And he didn't have to bring these 150 savants to do the study, but he

Mark:

did because he was an enlightened man who wanted to discover more

Mark:

about this forgotten civilization.

Mark:

And thanks to that we now know the history of the, of ancient

Mark:

Egypt and all that occurred.

Mark:

We've deciphered the hieroglyphs.

Mark:

And you know, a lot of these great pieces from antiquity and Egypt are

Mark:

for us to, to learn about I did like the scene where they uncover the

Mark:

sarcophagus and Napoleon puts the hat.

Mark:

There is a lithograph of Napoleon doing that and he's staring with his arms like

Mark:

this and he's staring, I think maybe.

Mark:

You know, without the caption there, it doesn't say anything, but I think

Mark:

maybe he's reflecting upon history that I, too, will be like this,

Mark:

this mummy here thousands of years.

Mark:

Will I be remembered?

Mark:

Will I be forgotten?

Mark:

What?

Mark:

impact will I have?

Mark:

So I really enjoyed that scene a tremendous amount.

Mark:

I did also like to see the, the gentleman of color who was one of

Mark:

his generals, because that's true.

Mark:

You had Mathieu Dumas, one of his cavalry commanders who was there, so I'm glad

Mark:

they, they showed him So, you know that transition in uniforms from the the french

Mark:

revolutionary uniform, which was the blue with the gold embroidery up upon the the

Mark:

red collar and cuffs that was nicely done.

Mark:

They showed that transition, through time.

Mark:

They also showed the transition with his hair You know, he did keep long

Mark:

hair until he comes back for the coup and then he cuts it and they call him

Mark:

the petit tendu the little shaven one So, but he cuts it in that Roman style,

Mark:

which is so very popular allotitis, as they called it in that time period.

Mark:

So, yeah, those things looked good.

Mark:

The one scene with Josephine's son, Eugène de Beauharnais wanting to get his father's

Mark:

saber back There's two versions to that.

Mark:

One is he's bringing his father's saber to give to to Napoleon.

Mark:

The other, obviously in this movie, he's taking it back, but, but the challenge

Mark:

of all those sabers in that room.

Mark:

The one they pick is actually an 1813 model and it was supposed to be 1794.

Scott:

that's funny.

Mark:

I mean, I think I know that it may be 10 other guys know that, but I was

Mark:

like, Oh my gosh, of the one you picked, I actually have a reproduction of it.

Mark:

I was like, wow.

Scott:

That's hilarious.

Scott:

Well, it's just like whenever Jen watches, Navy, \ , movies, and there's

Scott:

a helicopter in there, she's, she'll always say, like, a helicopter wouldn't

Scott:

do that, or they wouldn't do that.

Scott:

It's like, Jen.

Scott:

It's a movie.

Scott:

I give it up.

Jenn:

I know it's hard, but then like you think you just enjoy it for

Jenn:

the, for the cinematic version of it.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

So, okay, Mark, overall, out of four stars?

Jenn:

, is it like a three star?

Jenn:

Is it a two star?

Jenn:

What, what are you thinking?

Mark:

So if we're going to use your four star rating system

Mark:

I'm going to give it one

Scott:

Oh

Jenn:

my gosh.

Jenn:

Okay.

Jenn:

All right.

Jenn:

Okay.

Jenn:

So what is your best depiction of Napoleon then?

Jenn:

If you could say,

Mark:

Oh,

Jenn:

could watch a movie.

Mark:

There are several and in fact, Le Figaro magazine, newspaper one

Mark:

of the biggest ones in France did a listing of the hundred best Napoleons

Mark:

in film and I, I don't want to, I don't want to brag, but I made number 27,

Scott:

All right.

Mark:

In, in my role with Vincent Castle in the, the Emperor of Paris

Mark:

and and Joaquin Phoenix was 28.

Scott:

There we go.

Scott:

That's

Mark:

There you go.

Scott:

little feather in your cap there.

Mark:

Exactly.

Mark:

So of the Napoleon films, my favorite film of all time is the

Mark:

1927 silent film called Napoleon.

Mark:

And that was directed by Abel Gance, and it was starring a

Mark:

man named Albert Dieudonné.

Mark:

And he really just nails that early Napoleon, that 17 from Toulon

Mark:

to the, the royalist uprising in 95 to the Italian campaign.

Mark:

That's really where it ends, but wow.

Mark:

He looks the part very well.

Mark:

There's also.

Jenn:

I'm sorry, is that American made?

Mark:

Well, Francis Ford Coppola remastered it, because, again, a

Mark:

1927 silent film, he remastered it in, I think, 1981 or 1983.

Mark:

It's being worked on again, and I think they're going to do another theatrical

Mark:

release which would be wonderful, but when that's going to come, I don't know.

Mark:

But that that's I have it on VHS that nobody's put it on DVD, which

Mark:

is just very bizarre But there's also another film directed by Abel Gance.

Mark:

And it's called Austerlitz and it's all about that battle and it stars Pierre

Mark:

Mondy who does a stellar performance as napoleon another napoleon that I

Mark:

like is the 1956 war and peace with audrey Burn and Henry Fonda, and

Mark:

that Napoleon is a Czech actor named Herbert Lohm who I think nails it.

Mark:

There's, of course, crowd favorites like Rod Steiger in the 1970 movie called

Mark:

Waterloo, which is all about that battle.

Mark:

That's incre Scott, if you want to see what the squares actually look like and

Mark:

how the battle actually unfolded, and I do have it on DVD if you'd like to borrow

Mark:

that It's it's magnificent though Rod Steiger doesn't really look so much like

Mark:

Napoleon, I think he still gave, gave Napoleon the credit that was due him, and

Mark:

there's of course Napoleon and Josephine, a love story which was made for television

Mark:

back in 19 1987, Armand Assante kills it.

Mark:

He's awesome.

Mark:

And Jacqueline Bissette as Josephine, she does a super job.

Mark:

So yeah, there's a few out there.

Mark:

And then, you know, there's a few bad ones

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

So one star.

Jenn:

Okay.

Jenn:

So I think, you know, hearing you say one star, I, I think I, I'm,

Jenn:

I was going to do two, but I'm thinking I'm one and a half now.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

How about you, Scott?

Jenn:

How

Scott:

do you feel?

Scott:

So, you know, four, four stars doesn't compute to me.

Scott:

I'm used to a five star scale, but if we're going to go with four stars, I'll

Scott:

say two just because I, I kind of just, you know, for the general, the average

Scott:

movie movie go or the cinematography.

Scott:

And even though.

Scott:

To me, again, not kind of knowing the history or the facts or kind of what was

Scott:

right or what was wrong, like there was stuff that was just, it just felt like it

Scott:

was missing that tying the story together.

Scott:

But I, I did enjoy just kind of the representation of, of the, of the

Scott:

era, right, of showing Napoleon the costumes and kind of the battles

Scott:

and a lot of that stuff was just.

Scott:

Again, the pure Hollywood movie kind of bigness of it, you know,

Scott:

for lack of a more sophisticated way to describe a movie.

Scott:

I just, I did enjoy

Jenn:

that aspect of it.

Jenn:

I just missed the mark.

Jenn:

And honestly, in Mark, you'll probably, he doesn't even talk with a French accent.

Jenn:

It's like, Hey, what's up?

Jenn:

I'm Napoleon.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

Well, we want to.

Mark:

you know what?

Mark:

You know, maybe we can revisit this scaling system because supposedly Apple

Mark:

TV's gonna put out a four hour version of

Scott:

Oh,

Mark:

Have you heard about that?

Jenn:

The director's

Scott:

cut.

Scott:

Oh, are

Mark:

the director's cut, which maybe will be more inclusive

Mark:

to help the narrative along.

Mark:

And, you know, maybe we will see him talking about his reforms.

Mark:

The, the code Seville or the code, the creation of the B De France

Mark:

institutes for higher learning.

Scott:

An eye out for that.

Mark:

All those things would be interesting.

Mark:

And maybe the Italian campaign, that would be nice.

Mark:

Maybe some of those love letters, because that's when he wrote

Mark:

all of those love letters.

Mark:

Maybe the Marengo campaign of 1800, after he gets back from Egypt and the

Mark:

Austrians had taken back all that he had conquered in 1796 and 97 maybe

Mark:

the the The reasoning behind the why Austerlitz was fought, you know, throwing

Mark:

out the Navy that nobody talked about Trafalgar or you know, that was really

Mark:

the catalyst that brought Napoleon from the coast to invade England to go

Mark:

inland into Eastern Europe to fight the Austrians and the Russians at Austerlitz.

Mark:

So, yeah, I mean, it would be nice if if, you know, he could introduce

Mark:

some of those different things to, to help with the narrative.

Mark:

I think that would be very helpful for a guest or someone watching that doesn't

Mark:

really know too much about Napoleon.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

We'll have to revisit that.

Scott:

Well, hopefully,

Jenn:

if he listens to this podcast before he does his cut, he can edit

Scott:

all of that.

Scott:

I'm sure it's

Mark:

Well, if Ridley is watching this I love Ridley Scott.

Mark:

I think he's a brilliant director.

Mark:

The Duelists is his first major motion picture that came out in 1977.

Mark:

Still one of my favorites based on a Joseph Conrad short story called The Duel.

Mark:

I love Gladiator.

Mark:

I love Kingdom of Heaven.

Mark:

Black Hawk Down.

Mark:

I mean, fantastic.

Mark:

I, I, I certainly don't want Ridley to hate me for not, for only giving

Mark:

him one star, and as far as Joaquin Phoenix you know, he doesn't need

Mark:

my approval or not, he's a great actor, he's an Academy Award winner.

Mark:

You know, just, again, I can't see the forest through the trees.

Mark:

I, I talk about Napoleon every single day.

Mark:

I've got his books all around me.

Mark:

So, I, I think I'm just too involved there.

Mark:

But if Vanessa Kirby is watching she was fabulous.

Scott:

I think a lot of people, you know, and again, I don't go online and read

Scott:

like movie reviews and all that stuff.

Scott:

But I think a lot of people will kind of agree with that general sentiment.

Scott:

I mean, Joaquin phoenix, nobody's gonna argue that, the director

Scott:

and the actors are all incredible.

Scott:

. But I do think that she actually, I think she stole the show,

Scott:

between the larger than life characters that were in this movie.

Scott:

She, , even to me again, not knowing this, she was incredible.

Scott:

She played all the parts, all the different stages , very well.

Scott:

, and to me, honestly, her character to me.

Scott:

Probably felt the most believable.

Scott:

Yes,

Scott:

And that my friends wraps up our deep dive into Ridley Scott's epic portrayal

Scott:

of Napoleon Bonaparte It's a film that like its protagonist is ambitious complex

Scott:

and bound to spark debate We've, we've sifted through the historical facts

Scott:

and cinematic flourishes, explored the director's vision, and delved into

Scott:

the nuances of Napoleon's character.

Scott:

Now whether you're a history buff or a film enthusiast or simply captivated

Scott:

by larger than life figures, we hope This episode is shed some light on

Scott:

this captivating portrayal of one of history's most fascinating figures.

Scott:

We encourage you to continue the conversation.

Scott:

Let us know in the comments on YouTube, and let us know what

Scott:

you thought about the movie.

Scott:

Now, Mark, for those who might want to find you or your work, is there a kind of

Scott:

a best place for people to kind of either reach out to you or find you online?

Mark:

Absolutely.

Mark:

So, at Colonial Williamsburg, if you'd like to see the Marquis de Lafayette,

Mark:

we have our schedule online, so you can find out when I'm doing what we call

Mark:

public audiences or when I'm in town.

Mark:

I'm usually in town five days a week.

Mark:

But this weekend coming up, if you are in the Czech Republic in

Mark:

the southeastern corner by Brno, I will be Napoleon at the Battle of

Mark:

Austerlitz, his greatest victory.

Mark:

So come out, turn out for that.

Mark:

You can follow me on Instagram Napoleon in America.

Mark:

And I put up all pictures and videos of the different

Mark:

things that I do in character.

Mark:

So look for me there, I.

Scott:

Yeah, well, thank you so much again for joining us, Mark, and for

Scott:

those listening, remember to reach out to us at our website, talkwithhistory.

Scott:

com, but more importantly, if you know someone else that might enjoy

Scott:

this podcast, please share it with them, especially if you think today's

Scott:

Napoleon topic would interest a friend, even if they haven't seen

Scott:

the movie or if they have, especially if they have seen the movie, you

Scott:

got to send this episode to them.

Scott:

Shoot them a text, tell them to look us up.

Scott:

We rely on you, our community, to grow, and we appreciate you all.

Scott:

Every day.

Scott:

We'll talk to you next time.

Scott:

Thank you.

About the Podcast

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Talk With History
A Historian and Navy Veteran talk about traveling to historic locations

About your hosts

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Scott B

Host of the Talk With History podcast, Producer over at Walk with History on YouTube, Editor of HistoryNewsletter.com
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Jennifer B

Former Naval Aviator turned Historian and a loyal Penn Stater. (WE ARE!) I earned my Masters in American History and graduate certificate in Museum Studies, from the University of Memphis.

The Talk with History podcast gives Scott and me a chance to go deeper into the details of our Walk with History YouTube videos and gives you a behind-the-scenes look at our history-inspired adventures.

Join us as we talk about these real-world historic locations and learn about the events that continue to impact you today!

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Thank you for the great podcasts and for sharing your passion! Love hearing about the locations you visit.