Napoleon: A Cinematic Triumph or a Flop?

Nicole Venglovicova
3 min readNov 23, 2023

I recently took a leap and watched a film without previewing its trailer for the first time ever. Why? Well, spotting Ridley Scott and Joaquin Phoenix on the bill, I was pretty convinced it’d be a hit. Was I spot on? I aimed to keep my expectations in check, not wanting a repeat of the letdown I felt with ‘Oppenheimer.’

Right off the bat, the film gave off strong ‘Gladiator’ vibes, especially with Joaquin Phoenix gracing the screen. The opening scene was a brutal, raw introduction, so much so that I stopped munching my popcorn — and trust me, I was starving.

The sound design in the battle scenes was so immersive, I felt like I was right there in the thick of it. Joaquin Phoenix, as always, nailed his performance effortlessly.

What really caught me off guard was Napoleon’s portrayal. He was depicted not as a grandiose figure, but as a subtle, heartbroken man, driven to battle by his unrequited love for a woman indifferent to him. His wife’s public infidelity only fueled his need to prove himself. The film was peppered with witty, satirical one-liners that reminded me of ‘Gladiator’ — natural and unforced.

The storyline flowed smoothly, subtly leading up to the Waterloo battle, a clever narrative move that kept me engaged. In contrast, ‘Oppenheimer’ felt endless. Despite only a 20-minute difference in runtime, this film felt hours shorter.

The final scene was a masterclass in camera work and lighting, leaving us with a bittersweet smile. It underscored the tragic futility of the wars, where millions suffered for what ultimately amounted to nothing. Unlike typical blockbusters with their over-the-top endings, this one was simple yet profoundly impactful. I can’t shake off that last scene.

My verdict? It’s a must-watch, and definitely in a cinema. The big screen and sound system do justice to its grandeur. Don’t wait for it to stream online. Curious to hear your thoughts — drop a comment when you’ve seen it or if you’re planning to.

--

--

Nicole Venglovicova

Content creator, Youtuber and business owner based in London.