Ridley Scott’s historical epic “Napoleon” clocks in at a whopping 158 minutes, but even at over two-and-a-half hours a lot of material was left on the cutting room floor. In the September 2023 issue of Empire Magazine, Scott reveals that he has a “fantastic” cut of the movie that runs nearly four-and-a-half hours.
As reported by Empire, Scott’s near 270-minute “Napoleon” cut “features more of Joséphine’s life before she meets Napoleon. He’d love Apple (who funded the film) to eventually screen it. But what they have now is hardly slight. ‘It’s an astonishing story,’ Phoenix says of Napoleon’s life. ‘Hopefully we captured some of the most interesting moments.’”
Phoenix, who was last directed by Scott in 2000’s “Gladiator,” stars as the French emperor opposite Vanessa Kirby as his wife, Joséphine de Beauharnais.
“Joaquin studies the psyche, and the psyche of Napoleon is so strange,” Kirby told Empire. “The film feels like that. It’s kind of peculiar, and there’s an intensity in that. Napoleon wasn’t stoic and wonderful like Russell Crowe was in Gladiator. He was a dictator, a war criminal, really. It couldn’t be rousing, because that man killed hundreds and hundreds of thousands of men, in my opinion needlessly. And for what? To get an empire, for what? In the end, it all disintegrated anyway. That psyche run wild is dangerous as hell, and very strange. And this is a portrait of that.”
Scott previously told Empire magazine that Phoenix felt rather clueless two weeks before cameras were set to roll on “Napoleon.”
“He’ll come in, and you’re fucking two weeks out, and he’ll say, ‘I don’t know what to do,’” Scott said about Phoenix. “I’ll say, ‘What?!’ ‘I don’t know what to do.’ Oh God. I said, ‘Come in, sit down.’ We sat for 10 days, all day, talking scene by scene. In a sense, we rehearsed. Absolutely detail by detail.”
Scott went on to call Phoenix “the best player of damaged goods,” which is why he was so perfect to cast as Napoleon. The actor said it wasn’t too tough of a decision to sign up for another film directed by Scott.
“The truth is, there was just a very nostalgic idea of working with Ridley again,” Phoenix said. “I had such an incredible experience working with Ridley on ‘Gladiator,’ and I was so young. It was my first big production. I really yearned for that experience again, or something similar. He’s approached me about other things in the past, but nothing that felt like it would be as demanding for both of us. And so I really liked the idea of jumping into something with Ridley that was going to be that.”
Apple and Sony are releasing “Napoleon” in theaters on Nov. 22.
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