Napoleon on Video
Edited by J. David Markham
International Napoleonic Society
(Video and Book series, Cromwell Films Limited 1993) Part of a pretty good series that features reenactments and scenes from movies. David Chandler serves as the resident expert.
La battaglia del ponte di Lodi, 10 mai 1796
Produced in Italy; good luck finding this one. It was produced with the cooperation of the French consul in Milan, which might be a good place to start. My copy was a gift.
The Battle of Austerlitz
This two cassette video is of Abel Gance’s movie, which is along the lines of his more famous Napoleon.
With Greta Garbo and Charles Boyer.(MGM/UA Video of the 1937 movie) The story of Marie Walewska.
Starring Gerard Depardieu, from the novel by Honoré de Balzac. In French with English subtitles.(Republic pictures, 1995).
(The Learning Channel, 1996). Two VHS tapes, includes Napoleon, Alexander, Suleyman the Magnificent and Peter the Great. Less favorable to Napoleon than to the others, but still worth watching.
Starring Marlon Brando and Jean Simmons (20th Century Fox Video of the 1954 movie). A true classic.
Starring Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel (Paramount 1994 video of the 1977 movie). Based on a story by Joseph Conrad.
Eagle in a Cage (1971)
With John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson. This has to be one of the worst Napoleonic movies made. It is poorly acted and makes almost no effort to be historically accurate. The action takes place on St. Hélène, and has Napoleon trying to escape and subsequently being caught. Worse, it has Napoleon in a sexual relationship with a tomboy turned seductress Betsy Balcombe. Later, Gielgud, one of the finest actors of this century, makes an absurd appearance as an English lord there to arrange for Napoleon’s escape to retake France. A deal is cut giving Napoleon Saxony for his efforts, but it falls through due to Napoleon’s failing health. Watching this movie will cause your mental health to fail!
Field of Honor (Champ d’Honneur)
In French and Alsatian with English subtitles, Orion Pictures,1988). Actually takes place in 1869, but worth a look regardless of the fact that its the wrong empire!
Jacques-Louis David: The Passing Show
(volume 25 in a series Portrait of an Artist, produced by the BBC TV and RM Arts, 1986. Of obvious interest, though a bit dry.
(Produced by Jean Renoir in 1938). Not strictly Napoleonic, but worth the effort just the same.
Starring Norma Shearer and Tyrone Power (MGM/UA Home Video of the 1938 movie). OK, OK, I know we are a bit far afield here, but it is more or less of the period, and if your interest runs to the run-up to the Emperor, its worth a look.
(Abel Gance, MCA Home Video, two cassette). An absolute classic; what more need be said. Silent, subtitles, stirring music. Only goes as far as Italy.
Starring Orson Welles, Maria Schell, Yves Montand and Eric Von Stroheim) This film, I believe from the 1950s, tells his life story. Not my favorite, but some like it alot, and the cast is super.
Napoleon: 1812, the road to Moscow
(Video and Book series, Cromwell Films Limited 1992)
Napoleon: Exclusively in Memphis
(Wonders, 1993). Now here is a real treasure. This is a video of the exhibition in Memphis (Tennessee, USA) which was probably the finest Napoleonic exhibition in history. If you can lay your hands on a copy of this, do it; you will not be disappointed. It includes some of the finest Napoleonic treasures in the world, drawn from all of the major museums and several private collections.
Napoleon: Man on the Rock. St. Helena
Napoleon Bonaparte and the Battle of Austerlitz
Part of the Great Commanders series, which includes Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon, Grant, Nelson and Zhukov. An excellent series that, if you are reading this, you need to have. (Ambrose Video/A&E, 1993). Lots of talking heads, including Chandler and other experts; very well done. Filmed on location, with many computer graphics.
Sainte-Hélène, dernière victoire de Napoléon
In French, produced by the Fondation Napoléon, part of the Souvenir Napoléon in Paris.
One of the most fun to watch, especially if you like heart-throb Sean Bean, but do they have to make the French such nasty fools? Still, great entertainment.
A Tale of Two Cities
Starring Ronald Colman with Basil Rathbone (MGM/US video of the 1935 movie). Yes, I know, “There he goes again,” but its worth listing just the same!
(Video and Book series, Cromwell Films Limited 1993).
War and Peace
(Kultur video of the 1968 movie. 3 cassettes) For my money, this is better than the American version.
War and Peace
(American version, see above).
(Produced by Dino De Laurentis, starring Rod Steiger, Christopher Plummer, Orson Wells, and Jack Hawkins). I’ll no doubt catch hell for saying this, but I consider this one of the most watchable of all the Napoleonic movies. I use it in my high school world history class because it gives a very good idea of some of the politics to say nothing of what the battle may well have been like.
(Video and Book series, Cromwell Films Limited 1992. Features lots of footage from the movie Waterloo).
Video and Movie References to Napoleonic Era
Compiled by Ron McGuin
with Contributions by Our Readers
(1985 Egyptian)*: Tale of General Caffarelli during the Egyptian Campaign 1798-1799.
Adventures of Gerard, The
(1970 British): Farce about officer who becomes involved with Napoleon. Peter McEnery and Eli Wallach.
Battle of Austerlitz, The
(1960 French-Italian-Yugoslavian): Reenactment of Napoleon’s Masterpiece. International cast includes Vittorio De Sicca, Jack Palance and Orson Wells.
(1962 U.S.-British): Tale of young sailor and sadistic petty officer in 1797 British Navy. Robert Ryan and Terence Stamp.
Captain Horatio Hornblower
(1951 British): Story of British Navy Captain during Napoleonic Wars. Gregory Peck and Virginia Mayo.
(1953 U.S.): Officer thought killed during Napoleonic Wars returns to France to recover his estates. Richard Greene and Leonora Amar.
Damn The Defiant
(1962 British): Story of mutiny aboard British ship during Napoleonic era. Alec Guinness and Dirk Bogarde.
(1940 German)*: Propaganda movie about the Rothschilds and the Battle of Waterloo.
Elusive Pimpernel, The
(1950 British): Remake of the Scarlett Pimpernel. Originally a musical, but, music cut from release. David Niven and Margaret Leighton.
Entrevue de Napoleon et du Pape
(1897 French)*: First recorded film on Napoleon.
Fighting Kentuckian, The
(1949 U.S.): Story of French exiles after Waterloo settling in the United States. John Wayne and Oliver Hardy (of Laurel and Hardy).
Fighting O’Flynn, The
(1949 U.S.): Swashbuckler set in Ireland of the 1800s during a French Invasion. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Richard Greene.
Horatio Hornblower and the Duel
(1998 TV Movie British): Called Even Chance in the U.K. Ioan Gruffudd and Robert Lindsey
Horatio Hornblower and the Fire Ship
(1998 TV Movie British): Called Examination for Lieutenant in the U.K. Ioan Gruffudd and Robert Lindsey
Horation Hornblower and the Wrong War
(1998 TV Movie British): Called The Frogs and the Lobsters in the U.K. Ioan Gruffudd and Robert Lindsey
Horatio Hornblower: The Duchess and the Devil
(1998 TV Movie British): Ioan Gruffudd and Robert Lindsey
(1949 U.S.): Comedy set in Russia in the 1800s where a man is believed to be a friend of Napoleon. Danny Kaye and Walter Slezak.
Iron Duke, The
(1935 British): Story of the Duke of Wellington, England, France and Europe in 1815. George Arliss.
(1944 German)*: Propaganda tale of the defence of Kolberg in 1806.
La Nuit des Varennes
(1983 French): Tale of Louis XVI and his flight from Paris in 1791. Marcello Mastroianni, Jean-Louis Barrault and Harvey Keitel.
La Sentinelle Endormie
(1965 French)*: Comedy about a plot to kill Napoleon.
Le Diable Boiteux
(1948 French)*: Talleyrand and the Napoleonic Era. Sacha Guitry.
Le Fabuleux Destinde Desiree Clary
(1942 French)*: Story of Desiree, romanced by Napoleon, married Marshal Bernadotte and later Queen of Sweden.
(1994 French)*: Fanciful tale of Talleyrand and Fouche discussing their and France’s future.
Love and Death
(1975 U.S.): Comic retelling of War & Peace. Woody Allen and Diane Keaton.
(1955 French): Epic life of the Queen of France. Michele Morgan and Richard Todd.
(1959 U.S.): Young novice leaves the convent and falls in love with British Officer in Peninsular War Spain. Carroll Baker And Roger Moore.
Naked Maja, The
(1959 U.S.): Story of Goya and the famous painting set in Peninsular War Spain. Ava Gardner and Anthony Franciosa.
Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story
(TV Miniseries 1987): Follows Napoleon from pre-revolution to his exile. Jacqueline Bisset and Armand Assante.
Napoleon and the English Sailor
(1908 British)*: First non-French film about Napoleon.
Nelson Affair, The
(1973 British): Remake of the romance between Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton. Peter Finch and Glenda Jackson. [also titled: A Bequest to the Nation]
(1965 Polish)*: Story of the fate of Polish Officers during the Napoleonic Wars.
Pride and The Passion, The
(1957 U.S.): Story of Spanish resistance against the French during Peninsular War. Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant and Sophia Loren.
Purple Mask, The
(1955 U.S.): Pimpernel-like swashbuckler against Napoleon in 1803. Tony Curtis and Colleen Miller.
Reign of Terror
(1949 U.S.): Search for valuable diary set against early French Revolution. Robert Cummings and Arlene Dahl. [also titled: The Black Book]
Return of the Scarlett Pimpernel, The
(1938 British): Reworking of the familiar tale. Barry K. Barnes and Sophie Stewart.
Scarlett Pimpernel, The
(1935 British): Classic story about Englishmen saving French nobles from death during the French Revolution. Leslie Howard and Merle Oberon.
Scarlett Pimpernel, The
(TV Movie 1982 U.S.): Remake of the classic tale. Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour.
Scarlett Pimpernel, The
(TV Movie 1998 British): Remake of the classic tale. Richard E Grant
Start The Revolution Without Me
(1970 U.S.): Comedy about two sets of twins told against the start of the French Revolution. Gene Wilder and Donald Sutherland.
Tale of Two Cities, A
(1917 U.S.): Silent version tale of Englishman who helps others during French Revolution. William Farnum and Jewel Carmen.
Tale of Two Cities, A
(1958 British): Yet another remake. Dirk Bogarde and Dorothy Tutin.
Tale of Two Cities, A
(1980 U.S.): Made for TV version. Chris Sarandon and Peter Cushing.
(1963 U.S.): Chiller set in 1810 Baltic at a mysterious castle. Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson.
That Hamilton Woman
(1941 U.S.): Story of romance between Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton. Laurence Olivier and Vivian Leigh. [also titled: Lady Hamilton]
Young Mr. Pitt, The
(1942 British): Story of Prime Minister of Britain during Napoleonic era. Robert Donat and Robert Morley.
*Information supplied by Yves Martin.