Napoleon director Ridley Scott issues scathing response to French critics who dislike new movie

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Ridley Scott has issued a scathing response to French critics who dislike his new film Napoleon after receiving a flurry of negative reviews.

The latest movie from the Gladiator filmmaker, 85, stars Joaquin Phoenix as the 19th-century French emperor, and it charts the true story of Napoleon’s rise to power and his tumultuous relationship with Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais (Vanessa Kirby).

Reviews of the film have been divisive, with some hailing the historical epic a “masterpiece” and others criticising the film for its historical inaccuracies.

Scott, who previously told those picking holes in Napoleon to “get a life”, has been alerted to the fact that notable outlets in France, namely Le Figaro, Le Point, and French GQ, have shared negative reviews of the film.

For example, French GQ called the film “deeply clumsy, unnatural and unintentionally funny” for scenes in which French soldiers shout “Vive La France” with American accents.

Addressing these reviews in a new interview with BBC News, Scott replied: “The French don’t even like themselves.”

However, he was not referring to all French people – the filmmaker said that “the audience [he] showed it to in Paris loved it”.

Historian Dan Snow previously highlighted what he believed to be inaccuracies in a viral TikTok video.

One of the issues he detailed included the idea that Napoleon “came from nothing”, which is quoted on the poster. “His dad was, in fact, an aristocrat,” Snow remarked.

He also pointed out that “Napoleon didn’t shoot at the pyramids” at the Battle of the Pyramids, and that, despite what’s shown in the teaser clip, Marie-Antoinette “famously had very cropped hair for the execution, and, hey, Napoleon wasn’t there.”

Joaquin Phoenix in ‘Napoleon’ (AP)
Joaquin Phoenix in ‘Napoleon’ (AP)

Phoenix told Empire in a recent interview that this film is an “experience told through Ridley’s eyes”, adding: “If you want to really understand Napoleon, then you should probably do your own studying and reading,”

Scott has been vocal about the fact that the version of Napoleon set to be shown in cinemas will not be the final cut of the film.

Much like with his Orlando Bloom-starring 2005 epic Kingdom of Heaven, Scott has put together an extended cut of the release, which will add 110 minutes onto the 158 minute-long film.

Napoleon will be released on Apple TV+ after its theatrical run. It will be released in cinemas on 22 November.

Scott’s previous films were House of Gucci and The Last Duel, both of which starred Adam Driver.

Ridley Scott doesn’t care about ‘Napoleon’s divisive reviews (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
Ridley Scott doesn’t care about ‘Napoleon’s divisive reviews (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

In a new interview with The Times, Scott suggested his energy for filmmaking is yet to dissipate, stating: “Since [Martin Scorsese] started Killers of the Flower Moon, I’ve made 4 films. No, I don’t think about it. I get up in the morning & say: ‘Ah great! Another day of stress.’”