Country : France
Medium : Colour
Duration : 165'
Video : UGC / Film Office - 1997
Production : CFPI / Lyre / Galatea / Alexandre Salkind
Scenario : Abel Gance and Roger Richebé
Screenplay : Abel Gance and Roger Richebé
Music : Jean Ledrut
Director of photography : Henri Alekan, Roger Foster and Raymond Voinquel
Plot : The day after the signing of the peace treaty with England, "shutting for ever the doors of the temple of War", Bonaparte glimpses what is to be his destiny: the Empire. The events come thick and fast, political conspiracies give him justification for his political actions. His coronation was his greatest civil achievement. But Austerlitz was his moment of military glory...
Cast : Pierre Mondy (Napoleon) ; Martine Carol (Josephine) ; Claudia Cardinale (Pauline) ; Jean Mercure (Talleyrand) ; Jean Marais (Carnot) ; Orson Welles (Fulton) ; Michel Simon (Alboise) ; Vittorio de Sica (Pius VII) ; Jack Palance (General Weirother) ; Leslie Caron (Mademoiselle de Vaudey) ; Jean-Louis Trintignant (Ségur) ; Georges Marchal (Lannes) ; Anna-Maria Ferrero ; Jean-Marc Bory ; Elvire Popesco ; Jacques Castelot ; Nelly Kaplan ; Ettore Manni
Extract : « Napoleon. - Ah, my dear Carnot. How nice to see you. Why are you still in the opposition ? Am I not just as Republican as you ?
Carnot. - I am afraid that that might not be for very long.
Napoleon. - A statesman who really governs. We haven't seen one of those since 89. And governing France after twelve such extraordinary years is no easy task.
Carnot. - Yes, that's true, but you have remained a soldier, and that has been your excuse. And to confuse governing with ordering...
Napoleon. - Are you forgetting that I have just brought about peace on earth, obtained from the English the freedom of the seas, saved French industry, signed an amnesty for 14,000 emigrés, and written the Code civil ? Have you forgotten all that ?
Carnot. - No, but I also haven't forgotten that you got where you are because of the Revolution.
Napoleon. - The Republic needed a leader.
Carnot. - A military leader ?
Napoleon. - Precisely. And it got one.
Carnot. - The people, alas, always want force after chaos.
Napoleon. - And no one ever stopped you using yours... You were more famous than I was.
Carnot. - The revolution should not be used for one's own advantage. »
Review : Pierre Mondy matches, both in his age and physique, what Napoleon must have been like in 1805. His acting is excellent and deserves closer attention from specialists, whether of the First Empire or the cinema. The solemn moment of the signature - Napoleon decides on the spur of the moment to sign his official papers with his first name - constitutes alone one the great moments of cinematic history. And the same could be said for the other players in the drama: Jean Marais gives a marvellous Carnot, Michel Simon seems almost more real than reality in his role as the grognard "Alboise de Pontoise, Seine-et-Oise", and Claudia Cardinale is wonderful in her performance as the sexy and provocative Pauline. Here once again we see Abel Gance, the great cinematic historian, the director of the 1925 Napoleon, using his extraordinary precision and technique as ever to serve the narrative.