For every dad furious that there still hasn’t been a sequel to Master and Commander, the wait got a little easier with the news that Ridley Scott was making a Napoleon movie. Joaquin Phoenix plays the titular emperor, and today brings us the first trailer for Scott’s epic, fabulously expensive-looking Napoleon, set to open this Thanksgiving.
With a screenplay by David Scarpa (All the Money in the World, The Last Castle) Napoleon will be Ridley Scott’s first feature since his twin releases of 2021, The Last Duel and House of Gucci. It will also mark the first time Scott and Phoenix have worked together since Gladiator made him a star 23 years ago. A virtual unknown before his star-making turn as Commodus, that film earned Phoenix the first of his four Oscar nominations, finally winning one for playing the evil clown in Todd Phillips’ Joker. Scott, 85, has also been nominated four times–three as director, for Thelma & Louise, Gladiator, and Blackhawk Down, and once for best picture, for The Martian, never winning. In Napoleon, his 28th feature, Scott takes on a subject who has long inspired many an acclaimed auteur, including Stanley Kubrick, who had a Napoleon movie in development in 1969 before his financiers backed out.
Produced by Sony with Apple, the official synopsis describes Napoleon as “a spectacle-filled action epic that details the checkered rise and fall of the iconic French Emperor…showcasing his visionary military and political tactics against some of the most dynamic practical battle sequences ever filmed.”
Vanessa Kirby plays Napoleon’s wife Josephine, and the couple’s Rushmore-esque meet-cute serves as the anchor scene of the trailer, in between Napoleon’s rise during the Revolution and subsequent battlefield triumphs. “What is this costume you have on,” Josephine asks Napoleon.
“This is my uniform. I led the French victory at Toulon,” Napoleon answers, in an exchange oddly reminiscent of the “that’s a nice nurse’s uniform, Guy,” scene from Rushmore.