Ridley Scott responds to criticism about Napoleon’s historical inaccuracies

joaquin phoenix, napoleon trailer
Ridley Scott responds to criticism about NapoleonApple TV

Sir Ridley Scott has responded to criticisms regarding the historical inaccuracies in Napoleon.

The upcoming biopic sees Joaquin Phoenix assume the role of the famous French leader, charting his rise to power as well as his relationship with Empress Josephine (Vanessa Kirby).

Following the release of the trailer, several historians pointed out that certain events – namely a battle at the Pyramids of Giza and Marie Antoinette’s appearance at her execution – were historically inaccurate, with a TikTok video subsequently going viral.

joaquin phoenix, napoleon trailer

Related: Napoleon cut a scene of the emperor suffering from piles as it was "too distracting"

Scott, who is no stranger to historical dramas following works such as Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven, was in a bullish mood when talking about the debacle, telling The New Yorker that the detractors needed to “get a life.”

Whilst the legendary filmmaker seemingly had little time for complete authenticity, he did reveal that he strived to accurately portray the central character’s fiery personality, with the director working closely with his lead star on the portrayal.

“He is deeply vulnerable, and while doing his job he’s able to hide that under a marvellous front,” said Scott of the historical figure. “His forceful personality was part of his theatre […] Who was this person, and why was he vulnerable? And it was this woman called Josephine.”

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Related: Denzel Washington reunites with Ridley Scott for Gladiator 2

With Napoleon now ready to hit cinemas, Scott’s attention will turn to Gladiator 2, which sees Paul Mescal play the role of Lucius, the son of Lucilla and nephew of Commodus, who were played by Connie Nielsen and Phoenix respectively.

Nielsen is set to reprise her role in the sequel along with Derek Jacobi and Djimon Honsou, with the new cast including Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal and Joseph Quinn. Plot details have largely been kept under wraps thus far, with the release date currently set for November 2024.

Napoleon will be released in cinemas on November 22.

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