The 2nd December is/was the double anniversary of Austerlitz and Napoleon's coronation.
|The Eve of Austerlitz by Lejeune (Wikimedia Commons)|
This year it could have been marked by watching an eponymous film. It was not and will not be. I am boycotting that appalling film and am hoping that others will take a similar stance to add to it being a box-office flop.
I had largely made up my mind having been bemused, startled and angered by what was in the trailers. This was reinforced by watching and reading reviews written by people who actually know a bit about the man’s life and the era who went 'over the top' and saw it (sadly, there is even a bit of that in this film, I hear). My conviction has been cemented by speaking with friends who ‘went on undeterred’ and wanted to walk out a few minutes in. The highlight for them was dinner and drinks afterwards with mates and bagging the fil-um.
It is like a set of rules that you know from descriptions and reviews contain mechanics that do not appeal, or worse. I won't waste money purchasing such rules purely to make my own, similar, assessment.
It is far worse with this film and get’s worse the more that I hear about it.
I have been an amateur historian of the era since I was 12. In another six years, all going well, I will have been 'studying' the period for longer than Napoleon lived. Yet, I find new things each day that I did not previously know. Some of them quite fundamental; like being informed a few years ago that all those references to the Grand Duchy of Warsaw are not correct. It was the Duchy of Warsaw. [Speaking of which, how can you make a fit-um about N from the perspective of relations with women and not include Marie Walewska?]
I do not need to be insulted with the 'uncloaking' of a grand battery at Austerlitz. I do not need to witness the ridiculous sight of Napoleon leading a cavalry charge—I had assumed that this was some kind of dream sequence, but have been informed that it 'occurred' at Waterloo. I do not need to see the French scaling ladders at Toulon nor French cannon firing at the Pyramids. I don't want to witness the Prussians arriving on the French left at Waterloo. I will derive no edification nor entertainment from a pantomime representation of Napoleon and some puerile script.
In the ancient era one can perhaps get away with a simple, one-dimensional representation, since the extant sources are so limited. Yet it is known that there was far more to even a 'maligned' figure like Commodus. One can even depict cavalry charging through a wood especially since, despite that faux pas, that battle scene is a ripper. Not so with a person and era about which so much has been written during and since. Scott could have utilised my du Garde Peach Ladybird book 'The Story of Napoleon', the first that I read on the subject, and made a 3000% better film.
I was speaking with a good friend who had put himself through the agony of watching it. He would have left after ten minutes, but had gone to Perth (~500 km trip) to watch it with mates (not wargamers nor devotees of the period, but as good way to catch-up). He was another for whom the highlight was diner and drinks afterwards. He suggested that I would be traumatised’ if I watched it!! :)
I mentioned to him that I had heard that the uniforms are done well. He said ‘Yeah, they look great. The film is good, apart from the story and script.” I said (quipped?), “Oh, it’s like a porn film then?” He replied, “Yeah, but with Napoleon it is the audience who get f_____!"
I had come to the conclusion that it would be even worse to me than watching *that* Alexander film from 2004. Then I saw that exact comment from someone who had put themselves through seeing Scott's Napoleon.
I may buy a DVD at a discount sale and then have a ritual burning.
What a disappointment and an opportunity missed.
Thank goodness for my books, past films and wargames (however limited a representation they may be).
I have information that sheds light on this topic. The last 15 seconds of the film were cut: