Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Napoleon

Napoleon
Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Vanessa Kirby, Tahar Rahim
Genre: Still maximum

The 2023 Napoleon film is truly an epic. It has awesome battle scenes and historical sequences. Indeed all 180 films featuring Napoleon Bonaparte since 1897 no doubt have epic elements. It also doesn’t matter that the current Napoleon film is ‘only’ 2½ hours long compared to the 3½ hours of Killers of the Flower Moon which was not an epic at all, just a long story as I noted in my last review.

Anyway, this review is not so much about Napoleon as it is about IMAX Sydney where I viewed the film. IMAX Sydney closed in 2016 and just reopened. At the time it was the largest cinema screen in the world at 32m x 30m. The new screen is smaller. At 29m x 24m it’s “only” the third largest in the world. It’s also not as curved as the original screen and the cinema itself is smaller. However, it’s perfect for a truly epic film such as Napoleon as the overwhelming imagery and sound comes across as if you were attending a true landscape being ripped apart by cannon balls and dying men and horses.

While not a criticism, being an epic film on an epic screen means that the non-epic elements come across as even more minor distractions. Sure, Napoleon Bonaparte’s on and off relationship with his wife Josephine may have played a role in his internal and external wars and power struggles, but the on-screen portrayal of the relationship just gets in the way of depicting the extraordinary role that Napoleon played in France’s history.

Unlike the old IMAX, the new screen and its context feels less different than any other big screen. But when it comes to a film like Napoleon, it’s worth the expense as it makes for a truly extraordinary event.

Rating: Four stories tall

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