Napoleon film: Ridley Scott's latest epic stars Joaquin Phoenix but how historically accurate is it set to be?

Ridley Scott has responded to a historian who has dissected the accuracy of his upcoming Napoleon film

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Did Napoleon really shoot at the pyramids? And did he really 'come from nothing'? These are some of the claims and scenes from the trailer for Ridley Scott's new epic that are raising some questions.

The release of the highly-anticipated film is only days away now and will see Academy-Award winner Joaquin Pheonix reunite with Scott in the role of Napoleon Bonaparte. It is the first time the pair have collaborated since their hugely successful 2000 film Gladiator.

However, the trailer of the film is raising questions about the film's accuracy. You can watch the trailer above for yourself and then see historian Dan Snow's verdict of its accuracy below.

Inaccuracies that have been picked out from the film include the assertion in the trailer that Napoleon 'came from nothing' when his dad was in fact an aristocrat. There's also the claim that he 'conquered everything' which he didn't. Britain, for example, remained out of his grasp and he could only hold onto Moscow for a number of days.

The trailer also features a controversial scene of an army led by Napoleon shooting at the pyramids in Egypt during the Battle of the Pyramids. Also - unlike the trailer - Marie-Antoinette had cropped hair at her execution and Napoleon was not present for this.

Ridley Scott and Joaquin Pheonix on set of Napoleon (Apple/ Columbia Pictures)Ridley Scott and Joaquin Pheonix on set of Napoleon (Apple/ Columbia Pictures)
Ridley Scott and Joaquin Pheonix on set of Napoleon (Apple/ Columbia Pictures)

Of course, the use of creative licence is not new in Hollywood, but there is definitely a sense of the film delineating from the real story to pursue its own plot. But director Ridley Scott, 85, seems unbothered by any inaccuracies in his new film. In an interview with The New Yorker, Scott said Dan Snow should "get a life" instead of dissecting the film's trailer.

Military advisor Paul Biddiss who worked on the film's Battle of Waterloo scenes said Scott indeed had a keen eye for detail. He added: “Uniformity is very important with Ridley – right down to the guys, making sure their hats are straight. There wasn’t a bayonet that was out of sync.”

Napoleon will be released in the US and the UK on November 23, 2023, before streaming on Apple TV+ at a later date.

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