His life began on an island and ended on another one.
This one of the best MTV works of the absorbing series by historians Alain Decaux and André Castelot:the last years of Napoleon ,prisoner on his island ,precisely after Cockburn was replaced by Hudson Lowe in 1816.
Obviously,this portrayal is not neutral ,for we see the ex-emperor as a an embittered man,suffering morally and physically (he suffered from a stomach ulcer and finally died (probably)of a stomach cancer -and not poisoned as serialized novels buffs claim.Not neutral,because if Napoleon wrote his code,imposed the Franc as a currency,made France the most powerful country in Europa,he was also a dreadful warrior ,and responsible for the death of thousands of Young men -see the documents about the draft.
The movie is a long duel between a captive and his jailer.The choice of the two actors is close to perfect:Raymond Pellegrin had already played the part of Napoleon in Guitry's film (1955)and would do it again in Delannoy's "Venus Imperiale"(1962).In the first half ,Pellegrin portrays a man who is still hoping for a return ,proud ,hard on his French companions who put on a show of a court,and are always at each other 's throats ,struggling for the emperor's legacies,and abandoning him one by one ,replaced by undistinguished persons.In the last half ,Napoleon's face is almost a death mask and Pellegrin shines in every minute he is on the screen :dictating his memoirs ,his captivity bringing back memories of his son and wife (the selfish Marie-Louise) and his dear Josephine ( his famous last words were supposedly "army" and "Josephine") Matching him every step of the way is Michel Bouquet's sensational Hudson Lowe :straight-faced,apparently suave but full of hatred and contempt .Napoleon is denied the title of emperor (he's only a general).With Lowe's arrival ("Cockburn was a true soldier"),the prisoner is constantly being snubbed or put down by his jailer.
A minor detail:Lowe should have an English accent .
Napoleon often complained about the climate and the inclement weather:this lost island was foggy ,humid .Note that we never get out of the house where he lives.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this