Am scris despre regizorul meu preferat in mai multe randuri: Stanley Kubrick:
Astazi aflam despre Kubrick ca ar fi vrut sa realizeze cel mai ” bun film făcut vreodată” chiar in Romania, film in care ar fi trebuit sa joace actrita Audrey Hepburn.
După succesul filmului ”2001: O odisee spaţială”, 1968, Kubrick şi-a propus să realizeze un film biografic despre viaţa lui Napoleon Bonaparte, împăratul francezilor, relatează BBC. Regizorul american se aştepta să realizeze “cel mai bun film făcut vreodată”, după spusele lui. Meticulozitatea şi perfecţionismul cineastului, care a regizat doar şaisprezece filme într-o carieră care s-a întins pe aproape 50 de ani, au dus la o documentare exhaustivă din partea lui pentru acest proiect.
Stanley Kubrick a citit în jur de cinci sute de cărţi despre conducătorul francez şi apropiaţii acestuia, şi-a trimis colaboratorii să viziteze şi să facă fotografii pe insula Elba, la Waterloo, Austerlitz şi alte locuri cu semnificaţii istorice şi a scris o primă versiune a scenariului. Regizorul plănuia să filmeze o mare parte a scenelor în Franţa, să folosească studiourile din Anglia şi să realizeze scenele de luptă în România. Kubrick a încheiat o înţelegere cu Armata Română, care i-a promis 40.000 de infanterişti şi 10.000 de cavalerişti. Audrey Hepburn avea să joace rolul Josefinei, în timp ce Oskar Werner sau David Hemmings l-ar fi interpretat pe Bonaparte.
Costurile uriaşe pe care le-ar fi implicat producţia, precum şi lansarea adaptării romanului Război şi pace, dar şi eşecul peliculei Waterloo, de Sergei Bondarchuk, au dus la anularea proiectului lui Kubrick. Cineastul nu a renunţat, însă, la idee, niciodată şi a sperat să o pună în practică până la moartea sa, în 1999. Anul trecut, Steven Spielberg a declarat că intenţionează să producă o miniserie TV bazată pe scenariul original al lui Kubrick.
Documentul de arhivă în care este menţionată şi intenţia de a filma exterioarele în România lui Nicolae Ceauşescu face parte dintr-un volum lansat de Taschen într-o ediţie limitată de 1000 de exemplare, „Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon: The Greatest Movie Never Made”, de Alison Castle. Din totalul de 4 milioane de dolari, pentru România era pus deoparte un milion, dublu faţă de bugetul unei producţii care necesita decoruri, costume şi recuzită în cantităţi similare, precum Mihai Viteazul (a costat circa 500.000 de dolari). Statul comunist ar fi fost de acord să-i dea pe mână 40.000 de soldaţi de infanterie şi 10.000 de cavalerie, care să figureze în scenele de bătălie. Negocierile au fost duse de cumnatul şi producătorul executiv al lui Kubrick, Jan Harlan.
După 2001: O odisee spaţială, cineastul avea deja în plan Napoleon, însă filmase între timp Portocala mecanică (1971). Din motive de costuri, MGM se retrăsese din producţie, iar Kubrick încerca să-i aducă înapoi tăind la sânge din buget şi propunând măsuri de austeritate pe platouri: echipe mici care să filmeze interioarele în Franţa, organizare eficientă şi fără (alte) staruri în distribuţie, pentru a exclude din start onorariile mari.
Lettersofnote.com publică şi o scrisoare în care Audrey Hepburn refuză rolul lui Joséphine de Beauharnais, din cauza perioadei de pauză pe care şi-o impusese, şi-l roagă pe Kubrick să o aibă totuşi în vedere pentru alte filme. David Hemmings era în cărţi pentru rolul titular.
Kubrick n-a încetat să spere că Napoleon va ajunge pe marele ecran până prin anii 80. De fapt, scene scrise pentru filmul acesta au fost folosite în Barry Lyndon, iar Napoleon a rămas în legendă ca cel mai mare film niciodată realizat. Toate documentele referitoare la această producţie au fost stocate în 88 de cutii, volumul lui Alison Castle selectându-le pe cele mai importante.
20 octombrie 1971
1. Propun să încheiem un contract pentru a filma Napoleon, bazat pe următoarele premise:
2. Voi scrie un nou scenariu. Normal, în cei doi ani care au trecut de când l-am scris pe primul, mi-au venit idei noi.
3. E imposibil de spus ce voi face exact, cu excepţia faptului că mă aştept să-mi iasă cel mai bun film realizat vreodată.
4. Buget de 4 milioane, sub linie. O parte din el, de circa 1 milion, de cheltuit în România, pentru scenele mari.
5. Interioarele şi exterioarele mici vor fi realizate în locaţii, cu o foarte mică echipă franceză, ca pentru documentar. Ideea e să facem economie, să filmăm cu lumina naturală ca să-l facem să pară real (ca la Portocala mecanică) şi să exploatăm interioarele deja decorate disponibile în Franţa.
6. (…) nici un alt mare star nu intră în discuţie. Sugerez actori de un calibru impecabil, ca Patrick Magee (Mr. Alexander în CWO), iar alţii sunt deja disponibil la preţuri de rezonabile, de non-staruri.
7. Aş aborda metoda de producţie în 3 părţi „stop şi mai departe”. Filmele mari întâmpină probleme pentru că se fac planificări uriaşe înainte şi când încep filmările, planificările încetează. Toţi oamenii-cheie sunt prea prinşi cu responsabilităţile de zi cu zi. Ideea ar fi să avem aşa:
1. o parte filmată cu 10 oameni, interioare în Franţa. Lumină naturală şi simulată.
2. Stop şi refacem planul pentru x interioare modeste şi x-y număr de oameni.
3. Exterioare mari în România: bătălii, marşuri, revoluţie. Fiecare secţiune va fi planificată înainte, dar va fi suficient timp să re-discutăm tot între fiecare dintre părţi. Tot personalul, cu excepţia lui x, y, z, va fi lăsat liber. Contractele cu actorii vor prevedea toate astea.
11. Lucruri de făcut imediat: permisiunea de a filma în Franţa, înţelegerea cu România, de căutat locaţii în Franţa şi România, scenariu, bani în plus pentru scriitori şi drepturi asupra cărţilor.
Mai jos, scenariul filmului:
=============IDEI SI SUBTERFUGII===============================
September 29, 1969
INT. BEDROOM CORSICA – NIGHT
A well worn teddy-bear is cradled in the arms of Napoleon,
age 4, who dreamily sucks his thumb, listening to a
bedtime story told by his young mother, Letizia. His 5-
year old brother, Joseph, is already asleep, beside him.
Napoleon was born at Ajaccio in
Corsica on August 15th, 1769. He
had not been a healthy baby and his
mother, Letizia, lavished him with
care and devotion. In middle age,
he would write about her from St.
My mother has always loved me. She
would do anything for me.
INT. DORMITORY BRIENNE – NIGHT
It is still dark on a freezing winter morning. The boys
are being awakened by a monk, loudly ringing a bell.
Candles are lit.
Napoleon, age 9, sun-tanned, leaps out of bed, rubbing his
arms and shivering. He tries to pour a pitcher of water,
discovering that it has frozen solid.
Who has been putting glass in my
pitcher? Look here, someone has
filled my pitcher with glass!
Oh, my goodness! Someone has filled
Bonaparte’s pitcher with glass.
Now, who on earth would do a thing
Oh, heavens, look someone has filled
my pitcher with glass too!
Silence! Silence! You should not
make fun of Monsieur Bonaparte, he
comes from a country where it is
never very cold. He has probably
never seen ice before.
Never seen ice before? Oh, dear me
— how very odd.
The boys snicker. Napoleon glares at them.
At the age of 9, Napoleon entered
the Royal Military College at
Brienne, in France, under a royal
scholarship. For the next five and
a half years, he would devote
himself to preparation for his
military career. These were harsh
and cheerless years for the lonely,
impoverished provincial, among
affluent French noblemen’s sons.
EXT. FARM BRIENNE – DAY
A lovely, late-summer afternoon. A small group of boys,
in their school uniforms, are impatiently gathered around
a rough table, covered with stacks of thick bread and jam
and tin mugs of milk. The farmer’s wife supervises
things, collecting a sou from each boy.
Napoleon, 9, stands apart from the group, drinking his
milk, a book under his arm, lost in thought, gazing across
the cornfield at the school buildings, which are
beautifully colored by the late sunlight.
Good afternoon, Bonaparte.
Napoleon ignores him.
What are you reading?
No reply. Dufour moves behind Napoleon.
(angling his head to
read the title)
Dear me, aren’t we in an unfriendly
mood. Caesar’s conquest of Gaul.
Aren’t we terribly conscientious
about our studies? By the way, did
the supervisor give you permission
to take that book away from the
Fuck off, Bremond.
Oh, my goodness. What language!
Did you learn that from your mother,
Bremond is 4 years older and much bigger than Napoleon.
At this moment, Dufour gives him a violent bump from
behind, spilling milk all over his uniform and splattering
Oh, goodness, my dear Bonaparte — I
am clumsy. Oh, and look at your
Napoleon hurls the tin cup, with all his strength, at
Dufour, hitting him squarely on the forehead, with a
resonant pon-nnng! Napoleon leaps on Bremond, and the two
boys go down in a tangle of bread, jam and milk.
INT. MILITARY TAILOR – DAY
Napoleon, age 16, being fitted for his smart, 2nd
Lieutenant’s uniform, studies himself in the full-length
At the age of 16, he graduated a
sub-lieutenant from the Royal
Military School in Paris, and was
posted to the crack regiment de la
Fere, at Valence.
EXT. FIRING RANGE – DAY
Artillery firing range. A hot summer morning. Napoleon
is part of a group of young officers loading and firing a
The practical professional training
that Napoleon would receive for the
next three years would give him a
working knowledge of all arms, and
expose him to the advanced military
ideas of du Teil, Bourcet and
EXT. DRILL FIELD – DAY
A calm, winter day, snow on the ground. Napoleon and
group go through the ordered drill of loading and firing a
musket. Their targets are painted figures of soldiers.
EXT. FIELD – DAY
The edge of a wood near Valence. A windy, spring day.
Napoleon and nine other young officers are gathered around
a leathery-looking Captain with steel spectacles, who is
instructing them in the art of map reading. The map,
about four feet wide, is flapping noisily in the heavy
gusts of wind, despite the four pairs of knees and hands
struggling to hold it flat against the ground.
INT. ROOM – NIGHT
Napoleon’s room at Valence. It is filled with books,
mostly of military subjects, but well-stocked with poetry,
history and philosophy. He is reading by candlelight.
Outside we hear the sounds of revelry produced by less
His moods at this time were complex
Life is a burden for me. Nothing
gives me any pleasure; I find only
sadness in everything around me. It
is very difficult because the ways
of those with whom I live, and
probably always shall live, are as
different from mine as moonlight is
INT. INN – NIGHT
Napoleon, 17, the youngest of a group of a dozen officers
who are seated around a table in the local inn, drinking
and singing songs.
EXT. FOREST – DAWN
It is a hazy, summer dawn. Napoleon, 17, and Caroline
Columbier, a lovely young girl of 15, walk together in a
forest. They occasionally stop to pick cherries. It is a
scene of pre-Raphaelite innocence and beauty — the young
officer, smartly uniformed, the innocent girl in a flowing
He made friends with a family called
Columbier, and would later write of
his first flirtation with their
It will scarcely be considered
credible, perhaps, but our whole
business consisted in eating
EXT. LYON STREET – NIGHT
It is a witheringly cold winter night, in Lyon. People,
bundled up to the eyes, hurry along the almost deserted
street, past empty cafes which are still open.
Napoleon, hands deep in his pockets, shoulders hunched
against the cold, passes a charming, young street-walker,
about his own age. He stops and looks at her,
uncertainly. A large snowflake lands on her nose which
makes him smile.
Good evening, sir.
Good evening, Mademoiselle.
She is sweet.
The weather is terrible, isn’t it,
Yes, it is. It must be one of the
worst nights we have had this
Yes, it must be.
Napoleon is at a loss for conversation.
You must be chilled to the bone,
standing out of doors like this.
Yes, I am, sir.
Then what brings you out on such a
Well, one must do something to live,
you know — and I have an elderly
mother who depends on me.
Oh, I see… That must be a great
One must take life as it comes — do
you live in Lyon, sir?
No, I’m only here on leave. My
regiment is at Valence.
Are you staying with a friend, sir?
No… I have a… room… at the
Hotel de Perrin.
Is it a nice warm room, sir?
Well, it must be a good deal warmer
than it is here on the street.
Would you like to take me there, so
that we can get warm, sir?
Uh-hh… yes, of course — if you
would like to go… there… but…
I have very little money.
Do you have three francs, sir?
INT. HOTEL ROOM – NIGHT
Napoleon’s cheap hotel room is only slightly warmer than
the street. A candle flickers in the draft, and the
driving snow forms a lovely vignettes on the window panes.
Napoleon sits fully dressed, still wrapped in his coat,
scarf, gloves and hat, watching the girl hurriedly
undressing, shivering, teeth chattering, and diving into
the ice-cold bed.
Br-rrr, these sheets are like ice.
Oh, I’m sorry about that.
The girl shivers and waits for him to follow her into bed.
He doesn’t move.
What’s your name?
Lisette La Croix.
That’s a very nice name. Where are
Please, sir, come into bed or I
shall die of a chill.
Oh, yes… of course.
He stands and blows out the candle.
TITLE: 1789 – REVOLUTION
EXT. TOWN SQUARE – DAY
It is jammed with 300 peasants and town workers. Many are
women, Monsieur Varlac, the revolutionary leader, stands
on a cart flanked by a small Revolutionary Committee. He
is muscular, bald man in his forties, wearing glasses.
Behind him, we see six severed heads, stuck on pikes.
Citizens, word has come from Paris
that the foul prison of the Bastille
has been captured.
That its Governor’s head is up on a
All Paris is now in the hands of its
Soon all France will be in the hands
of its people.
As the cheers die down, we hear the sounds of a solitary
drum and marching men. All eyes turn to the appearance of
a column of 25 French troops, led by Napoleon on a horse
and a single drummer, marching into the town square in a
column of threes.
Napoleon halts them just inside the square, and rides
forward, alone, into the huge crowd, who gives way for his
horse. He stops about 10 feet from Varlac’s cart. The
man of the people stands, hands on hips, glaring at
Napoleon, who is now completely surrounded by the crowd.
Varlac and his committee converse in whispers.
Good day to our brothers-in-arms.
Have you come to join us?
I am looking for Monsieur George
Varlac who resides in the Rue de
Frelicot. Do you know him,
Very well, Citizen Lieutenant. You
have come to the right place, for I
am Citizen Varlac.
The crowd laughs in an ugly way.
Contrary to what you have been
telling these good people, Monsieur
Varlac, France is still in the hands
of its proper authorities, and they
have sent me here with a warrant for
your arrest. You are charged with
the murder of Monseigneur de Bouchy
and his son, and the burning of his
Varlac whispers to several of the men standing around him.
One of them disagrees and forcefully shakes his head.
A revolution is not a polite
discussion in a parlor, Citizen
Lieutenant. One does not call it
murder to kill such vermin.
(speaking for the
You may save your philosophy for the
magistrate, Monsieur Varlac. I am
only a simple officer in the army,
and to me what you have done is
called murder, and his always been
called murder by honest men.
Then do you propose to arrest all of
us, Citizen Lieutenant? For I was
not there alone.
No, Monsieur Varlac, my warrant is
only for you. Now, will you please
come down at once. You will be
taken back to Chalon for trial.
Varlac and his committee talk in agitated whispers.
Citizen Lieutenant, my advice is to
leave this town at once with your
men. We do not wish to do harm to
our brothers in uniform.
Monsieur Varlac, do not pretend to
speak for these good people whom you
have misled and inflamed with
violent speech. Now, I order you to
come down from the cart.
Another whispered conference.
I do not recognize the authority of
the King or any of his lackeys.
Laughter from the crowd.
I suggest that you leave with your
men while you can.
(drawing his pistol)
Monsieur Varlac, I will count slowly
to five, and if you have not begun
to get down from the cart by then, I
will carry out your execution, on
Without giving Varlac time for further discussion, he
begins the count.
One… Two… Three…
Several of the committee move away from Varlac.
Four… This is your last chance,
Varlac is frightened, but make an obscene gesture. The
crowd laughs nervously.
Napoleon rides up to the cart, carefully aims his
revolver and shoots Varlac in the head. His entourage
leaps to safety.
A gasp of astonishment from the stunned crowd, who stand
A confessed murderer has just been
shot. Now, let all honest men
return to their homes.
EXT. TUILERIES PALACE – DAY
A mob of several thousand have broken in and forced Louis
XVI, Marie-Antoinette and their children out onto a
balcony. Derisive cheers come from the multitude in the
courtyard below. A dozen or so men of the revolution have
crowded out on to the balcony, pressing the King and Queen
on all sides. No one seems to know what to do next.
Louis XVI gives a half-hearted wave to the crowd.
A bottle of champagne and some glasses are brought out.
Two glasses are courteously handed to the Royal couple.
The revolutionaries raise their glasses. The King and
the Queen drink with them. This creates an uproar of
approval from the crowd.
Then one of the men pulls off his dirty, red stocking cap
and offers it to the King. Louis XVI stands and looks at
it blankly. The revolutionary reaches over and puts it on
his head. The crowd cheers.
Incredible… Incredible… How
could he let that rabble into the
Palace? If he had ridden out among
them on a white horse, they would
all have gone home. If he lacked
the courage to do that, a whiff of
grapeshot — and they would still be
EXT. VIEW OF TOULON – DAY
The harbor filled with British ships.
In the summer of 1793, Civil war
swept through France, and the
important naval base at Toulon fell
into the hands of a Royalist
insurrection, which quickly handed
over the port to a combined British
and Spanish fleet.
EXT. TOULON HQ AREA – DAY
A French army of 10,000 was ordered
to retake the port, but its
commander, General Carteaux, a well-
known Parisian painter, had little
experience in war and the siege
quickly became a stalemate.
General Carteaux, a florid and moustached man in his late
thirties, painting from life, a group of French soldiers,
posed in a patriotic tableau, their eyes fixed on a
distant vision of glory.
In the background, are the tents and the military bustle
of Carteaux’s headquarters, set upon a hill overlooking
the harbor of Toulon.
EXT. TOULON ROAD – DAY
A smart French honor guard and military band is assembled
outside General Carteaux’s headquarters for the arrival of
Paul Barras, Deputy from the Committee of Public Safety.
Barras exits his carriage, accompanied by four foppish
aides and embraces General Carteaux.
Barras is a virile, handsome, bisexual man with elegant
manners of the Ancien Regime.
Napoleon is an onlooker with other officers.
Paul Francois Nicolas Barras, former
Viscount, now Citizen Deputy from
the Committee of Public Safety, had
been sent from Paris to personally
report on the failure of the Siege.
INT. TOULON HQ TENT – DAY
A large table has been set up in the middle of the tent,
at which are seated Paul Barras, his four civilian aides
and 7 generals.
Set up at one end of the table is a large military map of
Toulon, pinned to a board.
Standing back from the table, and ranging along the walls
of the tent, are 30 junior officers, the staff and aides
of the generals seated.
Napoleon, now a captain of artillery, is with that group.
Barras slowly squares up a stack of reports before him and
Citizen generals, I have read all
your reports and noted your
signatures. In substance, your
views are unanimous. The English
positions, defending Toulon, are too
strong to be taken by our present
force. The two unsuccessful attacks
to date would appear to support your
He looks around the table.
Citizen generals, it is no secret
with what displeasure the Committee
of Safety looks upon any lack of
patriotism or revolutionary zeal.
On the other hand, it obviously does
not wish to indulge in a futile
waste of life. Before I send your
reports to Paris for the Committee’s
review, together with my opinion, I
should like to give you a final
opportunity to present any new ideas
which you may have developed since
writing these reports.
There is troubled silence, but the generals stand pat.
Citizen Barras, since there does not
seem to have been any new thoughts
among us, may we know the opinion
which you, yourself, have formed?
General Carteaux, my report on the
conduct of this campaign will go in
writing to the committee.
An awkward silence.
Excuse me, Citizen Barras.
All eyes go to Napoleon.
Yes — who spoke up?
I did, sir.
Napoleon speaks with the uncomfortable yet determined
manner that shy but willful people often exhibit.
Yes, Captain? Have you anything you
wish to say?
(clearing his throat)
Yes, with all due respect, I do
May I come to the map?
Napoleon’s plan for the capture of Toulon. Explaining
with narration how, rather than trying to capture the town
by storm, it is, instead, only necessary to capture Fort
Eguillette, a promontory of land from which French
batteries would command the inner and outer harbors of
the port, making them untenable to the English fleet, and
quickly leading to the fall of the city.
EXT. FORT EGUILLETTE – DAY
A cold December day. The French tricolor is being raised
atop the main battery position on Fort Eguillette, a flat
area atop a hill, fortified with planks of wood and
French gunners have already swung a few pieces of
artillery to face the harbor and fire on the English
ships, now well within range.
Napoleon wheels around on a white horse, shouting orders
— a bloody bandage wrapped around his thigh. The wounded
of both sides are being cared for.
EXT. TOULON FIELD – DAY
A fine, winter day in a field near the military barracks
of Toulon. Several hundred troops have been drawn up to
form an honor guard for the presentation of Napoleon’s
commission as Brigadier General. Spectators stand under
the bare trees, and little boys watch from atop an
Barras presents Napoleon with his commission and a
fraternal embrace. The band strikes up.
Napoleon’s mother watches from a small wooden reviewing
stand which has been prepared for local dignitaries and
INT. PARIS OFFICE – DAY
Robespierre lies severely wounded on a conference table,
amid a disarray of papers, surrounded but ignored by his
captors who lounge about, seated on chairs, waiting to be
told what to do next.
In July of 1794, the death of
Robespierre ended the Reign of
Terror and sent Paris headlong into
a lavish whirl of pleasure seeking
and sensuality, as if it were
necessary to shake off the nightmare
and make up for lost time.
INT. BARRAS SALON – NIGHT
A large, elegant salon in the house of Paul Barras, in
Paris. There are ten card tables set up in the room,
around which are gathered the elite of the new society;
politicians, immensely rich war contractors, high ranking
army officers and government officials.
Many of the women are extremely beautiful, and display
their breast completely uncovered, in the fashion of the
Napoleon is one of the few guests not playing cards; he
has no money. Ill at ease, he drifts from table to table,
hands clasped behind his back.
Josephine de Beauharnais is the most beautiful of all the
women in the room. Napoleon settles at her table, rocking
slowly on his heels. She plays for very high stakes and
is losing gracefully. She glances up, distracted
momentarily by his rocking, but her look lasts no longer
than the flick of a card.
But Napoleon notices her annoyance and moves off to the
bar, at one end of the room. The bartender, a friendly
creep, stands alone.
A glass of champagne, please.
Yes, sir. I hope you will excuse me
for asking, General Bonaparte, but
are you Corsican?
Yes, I am.
I thought so, I noticed your name
when you were announced. I’m
Corsican too — my name is Arena.
(starting to move
Oh — where do you come from?
Bastia — and you?
Have you been back recently?
The bartender just manages to keep the conversation going.
I haven’t been there for three
I haven’t been back for ten years.
Is your family still there?
No, they’re living in Nice now.
That’s a nice city. This is your
first time here, isn’t it?
Yes, as a matter of fact, it is.
You don’t know many of Citizen
Barras’ friends, do you?
I thought not. I noticed you by
yourself, all night.
Napoleon nods, sips his champagne and starts to move away.
The Corsican leans forward and speaks in a confidential
whisper, scanning the room with a deadpan expression.
Just a minute, General. Listen,
don’t let them fool you with all
their grand la-de-da. They’ve all
made their money from the war —
mostly from crooked war contracts.
They say Citizen Barras has put away
The Corsican whispers without any facial expression,
hardly moving his lips, without any sense of malice, but
more with a kind of shrewd respect for the big-shots, and
a satisfaction of being in on the know.
And they say something else about
him. They say he never goes to bed
with less than two at a time — two
at a time, and they say it doesn’t
make a lot of difference to him
which sex they are, if you follow my
Napoleon nods, awkwardly, and leaves the bar.
Have a nice evening, General.
Barras enters the room, stops in the doorway.
My friends, dinner will be ready in
half an hour. Please make your
His announcement draws only some mock cheers with low
murmurs from the losers. He comes up behind Josephine and
kisses her on the shoulder.
How is your luck, darling?
Josephine slowly fans her cards to see the draw.
INT. BARRAS’ MUSIC ROOM – NIGHT
Later in the evening, the guests are now assembled in
chairs, grouped in a semi-circle around two raised
rostrums — one is really more of a small stage. The
smaller rostrum supports a string quartet playing Mozart.
The larger one is empty.
Napoleon sits at the back of the room, still alone and
Servants snuff out the candles, leaving only the empty
It begins to look like a musical evening until the
entrance onto the stage of three very attractive girls,
dressed in heavy winter costumes.
The three “actresses” begin to talk about being snowbound
in a desolate cabin, when their conversation is
interrupted by the entrance of three young desperados.
The purpose of this entertainment quickly reveals itself
as the young men proceed to strip off the girls’ clothing
and have intercourse with them.
The distinguished audience sits coolly appreciative of the
Napoleon, still the provincial, can scarcely believe his
Josephine, seated next to Barras, watches the proceedings,
an imperturbable study of elegance and charm. Barras
takes her hand and smiles at her. She whispers something
to him and he nods, gravely.
EXT. PARIS STREET – DAY
A mob, carrying royalist signs, is jammed into a side
street, their exit barred by a few hundred government
troops. Things have come to a standstill, and the front
ranks of the opposing forces have begun to exchange crude,
but not unfriendly, jokes.
A table and two chairs, from a nearby cafe, have been
placed in the middle of the street, dividing the two
groups. Seated at it are General Danican, the emigre
leader of the mob, and General Menou, his government
opposite number. Danican is reading over some handwritten
sheets of paper which represent an improvised treaty
between the two forces. General Menou sips a cup of
coffee, looking worried and uncertain.
A new political crisis was brewing
in Paris. The moderate government
of the Convention, which came to
power after the fall of Robespierre,
soon showed itself to be inept,
corrupt and unpopular — and it was
now faced with a serious challenge
from the royalists. General Menou,
sent out to deal with the mob, lost
his nerve and agreed to withdraw his
troops from the Section.
EXT. PARIS STREET – NIGHT
It is the same evening. Napoleon, Junot and Marmont stand
in a crowd, listening to a Royalist speaker, who stands
atop a wagon, against a carefully painted sign,
illuminated by torches, reading “Long Live the King.”
Citizens of Paris, this morning, the
troops of the Convention, under
orders to sweep us from the streets,
gave way before our victorious
Their officers knew they would not
fire upon us. Citizens of Paris,
nothing can stop us now. We are
40,000 strong. Tomorrow morning, we
will occupy the Convention itself,
and we will exterminate the
hypocritical parasites who have bled
France without pity.
Long Live the King!
INT. BARRAS’ OFFICE – NIGHT
Barras’ office in the Tuileries. The room is lit by
candles. Barras is in a terrible state, ashen from fear
and lack of sleep.
Napoleon enters. Barras rises from his desk and comes
forward to greet him.
Ah, my dear friend, come in, come
in. Please sit down.
I’m sorry, I was at the theater and
I didn’t receive your note until I
returned to my hotel.
Thank you for coming. Would you
care for a drink?
No, thank you.
Barras shakily pours a large brandy for himself, speaking
in subdued and apprehensive tones, frequently running his
hands through his hair.
I don’t have to tell you of our
Things are quite serious, I should
We expect an attack on the
Convention tomorrow morning, at
daybreak, and I have been placed in
charge of its defense.
What do you have in mind?
To be perfectly honest, I haven’t
the vaguest idea.
Are you serious?
I don’t even know whether a defense
What forces do you have at your
About 5,000 troops.
The 21st Dragoons, about two or
There are none here.
Where are they?
Well, I believe there are at least
30 guns at Sablons.
You could have them here by
Is this enough to oppose 40,000 men?
Properly arranged, yes.
These are odds of 8 to 1.
The numbers are not particularly
relevant. You are not up against
soldiers — this is a mob, and they
will run as soon as things become
Would you be prepared to handle this
Are you proposing to transfer
command to me?
In every practical sense, yes, but,
officially, of course, I would have
to retain command.
I must be honest with you. I first
approached three generals more
senior than yourself, and they all
very prudently sent excuses.
I’m not insulted.
You realize what is at stake?
Our lives, the revolution, my
Look, let me be completely open with
you, I have a carriage and an escort
waiting for me, and I have a great
deal of money outside of France.
Unless we stand a very good chance
of carrying this off, I am prepared
to call it quits right now.
Napoleon puts his arms around Barras’ shoulder.
Paul, everything will be all right.
EXT. PARIS STREET – DAY
Dreamlike, slow-motion shots of the cannon firing point
blank into the mob on the Rue St. Honore, outside the
Convention. They are devastated and there is immediate
Murat’s cavalry charges them, and the infantry follows
with fixed bayonets. There is no sound of the guns. The
only sound is Napoleon’s calm voice:
I ordered the artillery to fire ball
immediately, instead of blanks,
because, to a mob, who are ignorant
of fire arms, it is the worst
possible policy to start out firing
blanks. When they first hear the
terrific noise of the guns, they are
frightened, but, looking around them
and seeing no effect from the
cannon, they pick up their spirits,
become twice as insolent and rush on
fearlessly. It becomes necessary
then to kill ten times their number
to make an impression.
INT. NAPOLEON’S PARIS HQ – DAY
Napoleon’s new plush headquarters in Paris. Pencil
between his teeth, dividers in one hand, he creeps around
on hands and knees on top of a very large map of Italy,
laid out from wall to wall. Other large maps cover the
table, the couch and any other available space.
Murat, Marmont, Junot and Berthier creep around with him,
working out various march routes. Appropriate ad lib
dialogue will cover the action.
At one point, Napoleon and Berthier bump heads.
The crisis was over, and the way was
paved for the formation of the new
government of the Directory, with
Barras at its head. Napoleon was
made Commander of the Army of Italy.
There is a knock at the door.
Excuse me, Captain, but there is a
young man outside who wishes to see
General Bonaparte — his name is
Eugene de Beauharnais.
General Bonaparte is seeing no one
(without looking up)
What did you say his name was?
Eugene de Beauharnais.
Is he alone?
Show him in.
The orderly shows Eugene into the room.
Citizen de Beauharnais.
Eugene is 16, handsome, well-mannered and extremely
nervous. Napoleon remains hunched over his map.
(after some silence)
Good morning, Citizen de
Good morning, sir. Are you General
I am, Citizen. Is your mother
Madame Josephine de Beauharnais?
Yes, sir. Are you acquainted with
I have met her. What is your
business with me?
I believe you issued an order that
all citizens of Paris must hand over
any weapons that they have in their
That is correct.
This morning, a Lieutenant and three
soldiers came to our house and asked
if we had weapons. I explained we
had only my late father’s sword,
which, in fact, was not a weapon but
only a keepsake of memory.
(marking the map)
A sword is a weapon whatever else
you might wish to use it for.
I told the Lieutenant my late father
was General Alexander de
Beauharnais, and asked if there was
any consideration that might be
given to his memory.
And he sent you to me?
He said no one had the authority to
rescind the order except you.
Does your mother know you have come?
Well, then, you have a lot of
initiative, my young friend.
My father’s sword means more to me
than any other possession I have.
You realize, of course, that
thousands of swords have been
collected. How do you expect me to
Eugene removes a slip of paper from his pocket.
The Lieutenant gave me a receipt for
it and said it would be kept at the
Section Le Pelletier Police
EXT. GARDEN – DAY
The garden at Josephine’s house on Rue de Chanterine.
Napoleon enters, carrying a very strange-looking package,
wrapped in paper, about three-feet long, following
Hortense de Beauharnais, age 16.
Mama, this is General Bonaparte.
Madame de Beauharnais.
Ah, how nice to meet you, General
Bonaparte. One has read so much
about you lately. Please sit down.
Thank you, Madame de Beauharnais.
You probably don’t recall but we met
briefly a few months ago, at a party
at Paul’s house.
Oh… yes, of course! Have you met
my daughter, Hortense?
Yes, we introduced ourselves at the
May I offer you a drink?
Oh, I don’t want to put you to any
Oh, it’s not the slightest
inconvenience, General Bonaparte.
It is an honor to have you here.
You are very kind, Madame de
Beauharnais. Do you have some
Yes, of course. Hortense, darling,
will you tell Louise to bring some
Yes, mama. Will you excuse me,
Yes, of course.
I hope you will forgive me for
barging in on you like this, Madame
de Beauharnais. I called to bring
this to your son, but I understand
from your charming daughter that he
is out for the afternoon.
Yes, I’m afraid he is. I believe he
is riding. I know he’ll be
heartbroken to have missed you.
Well, I’m sure that you will be just
as pleased to have this as he will
Holding out the package.
General Bonaparte, my curiosity is
unbearable. May I ask what you have
in that mysterious package?
Napoleon proudly unwraps the paper with a flourish and
holds the huge sword with both hands.
Your late husband’s sword, Madame,
returned with my compliments.
The paper starts to blow away and Napoleon steps on it.
Josephine stares at the sword, blankly.
Oh… how very nice of you to bring
that for Eugene… Did General de
Beauharnais give it to you?
No, I’m afraid I never had the
pleasure of meeting the General.
This sword was taken several days
ago from your son by some of my
Oh, you must forgive me, General
Bonaparte, I’m afraid you will think
me incredibly stupid but I know
absolutely nothing about this.
Eugene is so independent — he
hardly tells me anything any more,
and he has so many things in his
room, I must confess I wasn’t even
aware that he had this sword — you
know how boys can be!
They both laugh.
INT. JOSEPHINE’S BEDROOM – NIGHT
The candlelit, oval bedroom is completely encircled with
floor-to-ceiling mirrored panels, which multiply the
erotic images of Napoleon and Josephine, making love.
Napoleon’s voice, reading the letter below, is heard over
My dearest Josephine — I awaken
full of you. Between your portrait
and the memory of our intoxicating
night, my senses have had no
respite. Sweet and incomparable
Josephine, what is this bizarre
effect you have upon my heart? What
if you were to by angry? What if I
were to see you sad or troubled?
Then my soul would be shattered by
distress. Then your lover could
find no peace, no rest. But I find
none, either, when I succumb to the
profound emotion that overwhelms me,
when I draw up from your lips, from
your heart, a flame that consumes
me. You will be leaving the city at
noon. But I shall see you in three
hours. Until then, mio dolce amor,
I send you a thousand kisses — but
send me none in return, for they set
my blood on fire.
INT. MAYOR’S OFFICE – DAY
The marriage of Napoleon and Josephine — a small private
civil ceremony in the Mayor’s officer. The only guests
are Barras, Eugene, Hortense, Marmont and Junot.
My dear Theresa — I am being urged
to remarry. You have met General
Bonaparte at my house. Well, then,
it is he who wishes to serve as
father to my children. Do I love
him? You are going to ask me.
Well, no. Do I, then, find him
unattractive? Again, no — but
worse still, I find myself in a
state of indifference, of
INT. KITCHEN – DAY
The Bonaparte kitchen in Marseilles. Letizia is cutting
vegetables with a knife, the sound of which allows a
disapproving punctuation of her silences.
The tap-tap-tapping of the knife dicing a carrot.
Mama, I’m sorry that I didn’t write
to you about this, but I thought
that it would be much better to tell
Tap, tap, tap.
Mama, I know that when you meet her,
you will love her as much as I do.
Tap, tap, tap.
The following excerpts, from Napoleon’s letters to
Josephine will be read over the following scenes, which
follow after the text of the letters. The visual will
show Josephine’s affair with Hippolyte Charles, and
Napoleon’s life in camp and on the march. The letters are
presented uninterrupted by the scene descriptions, to
preserve there flow.
My dearest Josephine, every moment
increases the distance between us,
and with every moment that passes I
feel myself less able to endure the
separation. You are the eternal
object of my thoughts, and my
imagination exhausts itself
wondering what you are doing.
* * *
By what magic have you captivated
all my faculties, concentrated in
yourself all my existence? It is a
kind of death, my darling, since
there is no survival for me except
* * *
I ask of you neither eternal love
nor fidelity, but only truth, utter
honesty. The day upon which you
should say “I love you less,” would
be the last day of my love — or the
last day of my life. And if I
should not die of sorrow, then, my
heart, maimed for life, would never
again trust itself to respond to any
sentiments of tenderness or rapture.
* * *
You let many days go without writing
to me. What, then, are you doing?
* * *
When you write, dearest, assure me
that you realize that I love you
with a love that is beyond the
limits of imagination. That you,
you alone, and all of you, as I see
you, as you are — only you can
please me, absorb the faculties of
my soul; that there is no corner of
my heart into which you do not see,
no thought of mine which is not
subordinate to you. That my arms,
my strength, my mind are all yours.
That my soul lives in your body.
That the world is beautiful only
because you inhabit it.
* * *
No letters from you — only once
every four days do I receive one,
whereas if you loved me you would
write me twice a day. Absence
relieves minor attachments but it
intensifies love. A kiss upon your
mouth, upon your heart, everywhere.
There is no one else, no one but me,
* * *
Your letter is brief, sad and
written in a trembling hand. What
is wrong with you, my darling?
* * *
My misfortune is to have known you
so little; yours, to have judged me
by the men you have known, who
* * *
You have inspired in me a limitless
passion, and an intoxication that is
degrading. Josephine, you have made
me wretched. But I have never
believed in happiness. Is life
really worth making such a fuss?
* * *
Four hours ago, there came that
scrap of a letter to break the news
that you are not coming, that you
are ill, that there are three
doctors in attendance, that you
cannot write yourself. My life is
now a perpetual nightmare. A fatal
premonition stops me from breathing.
I am ill of your illness, burning
with your fever.
* * *
In a month I have received only two
notes of three lines each. Good
God, tell me how you know so well
how to inspire love in other’s
hearts, without feeling it in your
own? Make mock of me, stay on in
Paris, take lovers, let all the
world know it, never write to me —
and then? And then, I shall love
you ten times more than I did
* * *
But don’t go on telling me that you
are ill; don’t go on trying to
justify your behavior. You are
* * *
Your letters are as cold as
friendship. What is left for you to
do to make me more wretched? Stop
loving me? That’s already done.
Hate me? Perhaps I should hope for
that. Hatred, at least, is not
humiliating. But, oh, indifference
— the pulse of marble, the vacant
glance, the distracted air.
Now the following scenes relate to the above.
INT. HQ TENT – NIGHT
Napoleon, seated at a table in his HQ tent late at night
writing a letter by candlelight.
INT. JOSEPHINE’S BEDROOM – DAY
It is a bright, sunny morning in Josephine’s bedroom at
Rue de Chanterine. There is a letter from Napoleon
leaning against the teapot on her breakfast tray. She
picks up the envelope, sees who it is from, puts it down,
pours her tea, adds milk and sugar, stirs it carefully,
sighs, looks outside at the tall trees rustling in the
breeze, then idly picks up the letter and opens it.
A close shot of Napoleon’s hand, writing on his official
stationary which has printed, under a large illustration
symbolizing liberty and equality, “Headquarters of the
Commander in Chief, Army of Italy.”
INT. JOSEPHINE’S SALON – DAY
General Le Clerc presents his aide, Captain Hippolyte
GENERAL LE CLERC
I should like you to meet my aide-
de-camp, Captain Hippolyte Charles
— Madame Bonaparte.
I am delighted to meet you, Madame
Thank you, Captain. Won’t you both
please sit down?
Love at first sight.
GENERAL LE CLERC
Thank you very much, Madame
Bonaparte. I have come at the
instruction of General Bonaparte to
bring this letter from his mother in
INT. TENT – NIGHT
Napoleon lying awake in the early hours of the morning, in
his camp bed.
EXT. JOSEPHINE’S GARDEN – NIGHT
Moonlight. Josephine and Charles walk slowly in the
garden. They stop. She is still. He touches his lips to
her shoulders and neck. She slowly turns, looks into his
eyes and kisses him, long and languorously.
EXT. CAMPFIRE – DAY
Napoleon standing at a camp fire in the rain, staring
vacantly into the flames.
INT. JOSEPHINE’S BEDROOM – NIGHT
Josephine and Charles making love in her mirrored bedroom
at the Rue de Chanterine. Maximum erotica.
TITLE: THE FIRST ITALIAN CAMPAIGN
EXT. ITALIAN ROAD – DAY
A spectacular shot of the French army on the march —
about 5,000 men. Music.
Soldiers, you are half-naked and
badly clothed. The authorities find
much fault with you and yet can give
nothing. Your patience, your
courage are admirable but you are
not getting any fame. I will lead
you into the must fruitful plains in
the world — rich provinces and
great cities shall be your
possessions, and then you will have
wealth, honor and fame in full
Start of the 1st Italian campaign.
With the Italian campaign, Napoleon
steps onto the stage as a figure of
European importance. A dozen
victories in as many months would be
announced in dramatic and highly
colored bulletins. The battles of
the revolution had been so far
mainly defensive. Now, there was
revealed a new kind of offensive
warfare such as had not been seen in
Europe for centuries.
EXT. ITALIAN ROAD – DAY
Army on the march — a military band playing — about 500
The following narration will be read over the following
Napoleon now introduced a new era of
wars of maneuver. Everything would
be sacrificed to mobility. The
complicated battle formations of the
18th century would be abandoned, and
the army freed from clumsy baggage
trains. War would be made to feed
on war. The armies opposing him
were still committed to the rigid
ideas of the previous era, and their
soldiers were treated as automatons.
As they could not be trusted to
forage for themselves without
deserting, such armies were slowed
down by their supply trains. The
revolution, on the other hand, had
produced an army of intelligent
citizens, which could move fast by
living off the country, and in which
courage and initiative were rewarded
EXT. ITALIAN VILLAGE – DAY
A small village in Italy. The advance guard cavalry
screen, about 100 troopers, gallop through the town and
form a line preventing anyone from leaving in the
direction of the enemy.
Captain, take 20 men. Assemble all
the inhabitants on the main street,
and collect all mail and newspapers.
EXT. ITALIAN ROAD – DAY
Horse drawn artillery on the march.
EXT. ITALIAN FARM – DAY
A party of 20 French infantry removing livestock and food
in a cart from a farmhouse. The farmer and his family
look on in quiet despair.
EXT. ITALIAN ROAD – DAY
A section on the march — boy drummers, in their early
EXT. ITALIAN STREAM – DAY
A big, exciting shot of about 200 cavalry crossing the
EXT. ITALIAN ROAD – DAY
On the march — an infantryman has a pet dog on a lead.
EXT. ITALIAN ROAD – DAY
On the march — a soldier carries a parrot in a cage.
EXT. ITALIAN HILL – DAY
Napoleon, on a horse, surrounded by his aides, studying a
EXT. ITALIAN BATTLEFIELD – DAY
A long shot of the opposing French and Austrian armies
facing each other across the battlefield.
There is no man more cautious than I
am when planning a campaign. I
exaggerate all the dangers, and all
the disasters that might occur. I
look quite serene to my staff, but I
am like a woman in labor. Once I
have made up my mind, everything is
forgotten, except what leads to
A cloud of sharp-shooters, some mounted, some on foot,
advance to harass the enemy, escaping from his superior
numbers, by their mobility, and from his cannon by their
Napoleon studies this exchange of fire to better
understand the enemy’s position. Surrounded by his
entourage, he is on a wooded platform constructed in the
top branches of a large tree, overlooking the battlefield.
The art of war is a simple art.
Everything is in the execution.
There is nothing vague in it. It is
all common sense. Theory does not
enter into it. The simplest moves
are always the best.
When the French skirmishers finally reveal a chink in the
enemy position, it becomes a focal point for the main
Horse artillery are sent forward, on the gallop, to open
fire with canister at close range.
The main attacking force of infantry are then sent
forward, moving up in columns and lines.
The cavalry trots beside them, in the gaps, to make their
presence felt where it will be best used.
Drummers and bands fill the air with stirring music.
Officers march smartly alongside their men.
The precision of these attacking maneuvers is very
important because the sight of the slow moving, perfectly
aligned mass of infantry is more frightening and
discouraging to the defender than a wild bayonet charge.
When the two main forces are about 100 yards apart, the
Commanding Officer in the field starts the chant “Hymn to
Victory” and places his hat, with its large tricolored
cockade, on the point of his sword so that is can be seen
by all of his troops.
When the distance narrows to about 50 yards, the defending
Austrians fire their first volleys — first row, second
row, third row.
The French fall everywhere, but the remainder fill in the
formation and keep moving in regular step.
This is the crucial point of the battle. The defenders
now have to decide whether they are going to run or face
the attackers’ volley and subsequent bayonet charge.
There is no time for the defenders to reload.
Now the French are 20 yards away and still hold their
fire, trained to do this because their psychological
advantage is lost once they have discharged their muskets.
They want the defenders to break and run.
Now panic has begun to set in and to dislodge the
defending Austrian troops. They start to give way.
The French relentlessly move forward.
The Austrian movements at the rear become a stampede.
The officers signal with their swords, and the drummers
beat the charge. The sky rings with a thousand battle
The cavalry dashes forward and hacks down the fleeing
Austrian infantry, who are virtually helpless against the
cavalry out in the open.
The French have won the day, and their infantry fires
their first volley at the backs of the fleeing Austrian
EXT. MILAN STREET – DAY
The triumphal entrance of the French army into Milan.
Wildly enthusiastic crowds, floral arches, tricolors
everywhere, glittering military bands, flags, columns upon
columns of French troops, the smart clattering of the
Napoleon, on horseback, flanked by his staff and aides,
his eyes shining, his expression transfixed, as if in a
Napoleon would soon arouse the
resentment of the Directory in
Paris, exceeding his authority,
making political decisions and
treaties like a Roman Conqueror,
enlarging his role to ruler of
Italy. Only his tremendous success
and ever increasing popularity
prevented the Directory from
From that moment on, I foresaw what
I might be. Already I felt the
earth flee beneath me, as if I were
being carried away up to the sky.
INT. BEDROOM MILAN PALACE – DAY
Napoleon and Josephine are making love. Sunlight falling
on their bodies.
My dear Therese, the journey here to
Milan was the most difficult and
uncomfortable imaginable — I am
bored to death. My husband doesn’t
love me, he worships me. I fear he
will go mad with love. Worse than
that, I fear for my poor Hippolyte.
We may have been indiscreet on the
journey, and I think Joseph and
Junot suspect something.
INT. OFFICE MILAN PALACE – DAY
The orderly announces Captain Hippolyte Charles. He is
24, handsome, short and slight, very much in stature like
Napoleon, and has a hairdresser’s elegance.
His behavior is absolutely correct during this interview,
and one could never infer any guilt on his part.
Come in, Captain Charles.
Charles approaches the table and salutes smartly.
I believe you are acquainted with my
brother, Joseph Bonaparte, and my
aide, Major Junot.
Yes, sir, I had the honor of meeting
them on the trip from Paris.
They nod, politely.
Captain Charles, I believe you are
one of General Le Clerc’s aides-de-
Yes, sir, I am.
Was it he who assigned you to
command the escort which accompanied
Madame Bonaparte’s coach?
There is a pause. Napoleon studies Charles.
Was the trip normal in every
Did any difficulties of any kind
arise during the trip?
No, sir, none at all.
Then, you have my thanks, Captain
Charles, for safely escorting Madame
Bonaparte to Milan, and you may
consider your assignment completed.
Thank you, sir.
You will return to Paris tomorrow
and you will carry my compliments
and thanks to General Le Clerc for
assigning such an excellent officer
to carry out a responsibility which
has meant so much to myself and to
Thank you, sir. I will do that.
You may go, Captain Charles.
Charles salutes and leaves. Napoleon sits and stares at
his desk for several seconds, then he produces a letter
from his pocket and hands it to Joseph.
I would like both of you to read
this. Please read it aloud.
To Citizen General Bonaparte from
one who does not wish to see him
dishonored by his wife. You should
know, Citizen General, that your
wife has taken a lover, one Captain
Hippolyte Charles… undated and
Joseph shakes his head. He hands it to Junot, who reads
it, and hands it back, looking to Joseph to speak first.
Naturally, one does not take much
stock in such a piece of filth but,
on the other hand, it is not the
sort of thing one can simply ignore.
What do you think, Joseph?
No, one cannot simply ignore it.
I am afraid, then, I have to ask you
both, Joseph as my brother, and
Junot as my good friend, whether or
not you know anything about this, or
whether you saw anything at all
during the trip which might make you
suspect some truth to it.
Joseph thinks for a moment and slowly shakes his head.
No… nothing at all.
Not even the slightest hint of
No — Captain Charles commanded the
cavalry escort, and rode outside the
carriage. In the evenings, he
always ate at another table. They
hardly ever spoke to each other.
You would tell me, Joseph, wouldn’t
Yes, of course, I would. You know I
am not one of your wife’s greatest
admirers, but I certainly know
nothing about this.
And you, Junot?
(shaking his head)
No… No, I don’t know anything
about it either. Not a thing.
Well, thank you both. As I said, I
shall regard this as a piece of
malevolence from someone who does
not wish well to myself or
Josephine. Naturally, I shall trust
to your discretion to say nothing
EXT. SPHINX – DAY
Napoleon, Eugene, Junot, Marmont and Murat, accompanied by
a large party of scientists, stand before the Sphinx.
On July 2, 1798, Napoleon arrived in
Egypt with an army of 40,000 men,
and a romantic dream of conquest,
following Alexander’s march into
India. The Directory had been quick
to approve his plan for attacking
England, indirectly, through their
Eastern Empire, rather than by
invasion of Britain, and they
breathed a sigh of relief to have
their unemployed conqueror off the
EXT. PYRAMID – DAY
Napoleon and the scientists inspect a mummy, brought out
into the sunlight, after thousands of years. A mood of
somber reflection pervades the scene.
There was an air of grandiose
fantasy about the expedition.
Napoleon took along a hundred and
fifty distinguished scientists,
intellectuals and artists equipped
with libraries and scientific
instruments. They would found the
Institute of Egypt, do the
preliminary survey work for the Suez
canal, and unlock the key to
EXT. HIEROGLYPHIC WALL OF TOMB – DAY
A young drummer boy scribbles “Long Live the Republic” on
the face of some hieroglyphic writing. Several other
soldiers closely scrutinize the ancient writing.
EXT. DESERT – DAY
We are inside of a French division square, defending
itself against an attack of mameluke cavalry. Each side
of the square is formed of three ranks of men, and
artillery is placed at the corners.
The inside of the square is about the size of a football
field, and is virtually empty, except for a small group of
officers surrounding Napoleon, and a fairly large group of
terrified scientists and intellectuals, dressed in heavy
European clothes, mounted on donkeys and camels, and
Outside the square, the shrieking mamelukes recklessly
charge, and are slaughtered by the disciplined and
accurate wall of French muskets.
The scene will be shot only from inside the square, and
from this vantage point, all we can see, over the heads of
the defending French troops and clouds of dust, are the
tops of the mamelukes.
Napoleon, pleased with the way things are going, rides
over to the groups of scientists, to cheer them up. He
has to shout to be heard.
Good afternoon, gentlemen. I hope
you are enjoying this unusual
spectacle. One cannot see this in
Paris for any price.
They are too frightened to be amused.
Are we doing well, General
We are doing very well, my dear
Monge. The mameluke cavalry are
brave but they are selling their
lives at a bad price — at a rate, I
should say, of 50-1. My only fear
is that Murad Bey has some means of
communicating with his men, and that
he will manage to call them off
before we can kill a great many
The artist, Denon, one of the stronger souls among the
group, has been busy making sketches of the fighting.
Napoleon rides over to him and looks down at the drawing.
Those are excellent sketches, Denon.
May I have them when you are
INT. MANSION MURAD BEY – NIGHT
The captured mansion of Murad Bey, leader of the
mamelukes. French-Arabian orgy — quiet, cool, soft
music, occasional male voice, low female laugh; Murat,
Marmont, Berthier, Monge. Not Napoleon.
INT. NAPOLEON’S OFFICE IN MURAD BEY MANSION – NIGHT
But Napoleon is at work. He has taken over a large room,
grouped several tables into an L-shape, and has made it
into an office. He is seated before the usual 2-foot-high
stack of dispatches, letters, memorandums and reports,
which follow him everywhere. We hear the continuation of
the music from the previous scene. Napoleon, in an angry
and irritable mood, is dictating to Bourrienne.
Must you, too, take this opportunity
during my absence to indulge the
petty jealousies of the Bonaparte
family? Must you…
There is a knock at the door.
Junot enters, extremely drunk.
I believe you sent for me.
Yes, yes, please sit down. I will
be with you in a moment.
Junot staggers over to a couch and sits down heavily.
Napoleon’s glance lingers disapprovingly.
Read it back.
To Joseph Bonaparte — Dear Joseph,
I have been informed by my wife of
the cold and spiteful treatment she
has been receiving at the hands of
my family, since my departure. I am
also informed that you have refused
to pay over to her any of the money
I left with you expressly for this
purpose. Must you, too, take this
opportunity during my absence to
indulge the petty jealousies of the
Oh, shit, that’s not right.
He runs his hand through his hair.
Leave us alone, Bourrienne, and come
back in half an hour.
God damn it, Junot, wouldn’t you
think I have enough things on my
mind not to waste time on a letter
like this to Joseph?
(staring at his
There’s probably some explanation.
Yes, I’m sure he’s been too busy
chasing his whores to be bothered
about my wife.
Junot sits, breathing loudly.
Well, anyway, sorry to call you away
from the festivities, but where is
the breakdown on serviceable
vehicles? I asked for it yesterday.
(speech affected by
I gave it to Berthier… this
Why did you give it to him?
I thought he would be seeing you
before I would, and would give it to
Well, he didn’t give it to me, and
when I ask you to do something for
me, return the work to me, not to
I’m sorry, I thought he would give
it to you.
I must have the breakdown now.
Where is Berthier?
He’s downstairs — somewhere.
All right, thank you. Please ask
him to come here.
Junot pauses and then speaks with exaggerated importance
and earnestness brought on by too much drink.
Yes… but, first, can I say
something to you, as a friend?
I know that I shouldn’t butt into
things… that are really no
concern of mine… but you shouldn’t
write a letter like that to Joseph.
Well, maybe he’s only looking out
for your best interests.
What are you talking about?
Nothing. That’s all I can say.
That’s all you can say? What are
you talking about?
That’s all I can say.
Now, just a minute. You have just
very clearly implied that there is a
reason why Joseph should not give my
wife the money which I left for her.
I can’t possibly allow a remark like
that to go without explanation.
Let’s just say, he looks after your
Napoleon takes Junot by the shoulders.
Look, Junot, you aren’t going to
leave this room until you explain
There are some things… better left
You mean about my wife?! You mean
there are some things better left
unsaid about Josephine?!
Suddenly, Junot buries his head in his hands.
What the hell is the matter with
(mumbling into his
I didn’t want to hurt you… All I
wanted to do was to keep from
hurting you. I swear I didn’t want
to hurt you.
Well, whatever the hell you wanted
to do, you are going to tell me
everything right now. Do you
You know that… letter you showed
me in Milan — the one about
I wrote it.
Yes, I wrote it.
You wrote it.
I couldn’t face telling you.
You couldn’t face telling me what?
About Hippolyte Charles.
What was there to tell?
My God, what do you think?
Do you know what you’re saying?
God help me — yes.
How do you know?
How do you know?
Junot pulls himself together and speaks in an unnaturally
controlled and somewhat mechanical way.
I was in her maid’s room at an inn
we stopped at for the night, outside
of Dijon. It was an adjoining room
to Madame Bonaparte’s.
Junot searches for a better way to say it but doesn’t come
up with anything.
I could hear them, in the next room.
Napoleon’s voice is barely audible.
You could hear them?
Napoleon stares at the corner of a table.
You mean you heard them making love?
Napoleon sits down.
How did you know it was Captain
I questioned the maid, and she
admitted Charles had been Madame
Bonaparte’s lover for several
Can you give me a drink, please?
Yes, of course. What do you want?
Napoleon stares into space and doesn’t reply.
Junot pours a glass of whisky. Napoleon drinks it down,
I wanted to kill him but Joseph
convinced me it would be a mistake.
He said people would say you hadn’t
the courage to deal with it
And was it so widely known that
Joseph had reason for such concern?
I believe so. I believe Madame
Bonaparte was not discreet, in
A knock at the door. A momentary pause, then a much more
Come back in an hour.
Excuse me, General Bonaparte, but I
believe this is an extremely urgent
matter, requiring your immediate
This dispatch has just arrived from
Aboukir, marked highest priority,
for General Bonaparte’s eyes only.
Let me see it.
He opens the envelope, reads it and tosses the note on the
Nelson has engaged Brueys off
Aboukir. Brueys is dead and we have
lost eleven ships.
EXT. FRENCH TOWN – DAY
Wildly cheering crowds, flags, military band — Napoleon
rides in an open carriage, waving. He is followed by two
other carriages, containing the small entourage, brought
back from Egypt. A beautiful floral Arc de Triomphe
decorates the end of the street.
On October 9th, 1799, Napoleon, with
only a small entourage, arrived at
the port of Frejus, in France, after
a journey of six weeks, in which he
evaded a large British fleet. The
news of his arrival threw France
into a delirium of joy. His return
was seen as a kind of deliverance,
by a nation in the grip of economic
chaos, near anarchy and the threat
INT. CHAMBERS OF DIRECTORY IN PARIS – DAY
A large room in Luxembourg Palace. Napoleon is seated
before the five Directors, Barras, Sieyes, Moulins, Gohier
and Roger-Ducos, who are dressed in their pompous official
costumes with three-foot hats and feathered plumes.
Present also are Talleyrand, Fouche, Joseph, Lucien and
several dozen important officials.
Nelson’s victory at Aboukir quite
effectively finished the strategic
purpose of the campaign, and with
the loss of all our principal
fighting ships, the army was
marooned in Egypt, and our
communications with the continent
were severed. The only options
remaining to me were to develop the
occupation of Egypt, to maintain the
morale of my army, and to respond to
the threats being created by the
English and, very soon, the Turks.
This was accomplished, culminating
in my final victory against the
Turks, when they attempted a landing
I wonder if you would care to tell
us, General Bonaparte, why, so soon
after this admirable victory, you
decided to… abandon your army and
return to France?
Citizen Gohier, my army was not
abandoned — it was left in a very
strong position, and in the capable
hands of General Kleber.
Of course, General Bonaparte. An
unfortunate choice of words. Only
the enemies of your glory, whom we
shall regard as our own, would wish
to give adverse interpretation to
the honorable motives of patriotism,
which I am sure, induced you to…
leave… your colors. Please
Napoleon smiles, coldly.
After the defeat of the Turks, a
negotiation to arrange the exchange
of prisoners took place aboard Sir
Sidney Smith’s flagship. At the end
of the first meeting, Sir Sidney
gave my chief negotiator, General
Marmont, several German newspapers,
of a fairly recent date.
Now, you must bear in mind that for
more than a year I had received no
news at all from Europe, not a
newspaper or a single mail packet.
Perhaps you can imagine my state of
mind when I read of the serious
defeats that had been inflicted upon
France during my absence: the loss
of Italy, the Anglo-Russian army’s
occupation of Holland, the imminent
invasion of France herself. After
several days of deliberation, it
seemed clear to me that it was my
duty to risk the English blockade
and, with a few small ships, attempt
to return, to serve my country in
any way that might be possible.
Narration starts over Napoleon’s dialogue which fades
The government of the Directory was
bankrupt, and its presses ran all
night printing the money it would
spend the next day. Two of its five
members, Sieyes and Roger-Ducos, who
had the support of the moderate
political factions, were preparing
to seize power. They would welcome
the inclusion of Napoleon who would
secure the support of the army, and
who was now the most popular figure
The cutting of this scene will be done to place emphasis
on, and establish a relationship between, two of the
Directors, Sieyes and Roger-Ducos, Joseph Bonaparte,
Talleyrand and Napoleon. Sieyes and Roger-Ducos will be
cut with their names.
INT. CARRIAGE – DAY
Napoleon and Joseph driving through the park.
The important thing is to find the
right lawyer. One who will not
protract the thing indefinitely, in
You know I am only too happy to be
of help to you, but surely this
isn’t the ideal moment to involve
yourself in such matters.
I know of no better time.
You can’t be serious. It would not
be good to become another husband
out of a Moliere farce.
The comedy of my marriage is
sufficiently well known already.
You must not act impetuously.
It is time to clarify the situation.
Everything is over between us.
But you can do the same thing in six
months. The next few weeks may be
the most important ones in your
My mind is made up. She will not
set foot in my house again. I think
if I saw her again, I might be
tempted to strangle her.
Joseph sighs and tries to think of another line of
Are you sure that you are not still
in love with her?
Are you trying to insult me?
Of course not, but such violence of
feeling makes me wonder.
Well, you shall see.
When is she supposed to return?
I have no idea. Her maid said she
left two days ago, to meet me — I
can imagine where she is. But when
she finally does come home, she will
find her things in the street and my
She will probably appear with a
dozen excuses and you will forgive
My dear Joseph, the only thing that
is clear is that my wife is a slut
— and while a man may want a slut
for his mistress, he does not want
her for his wife.
INT. JOSEPHINE’S MIRRORED BEDROOM – NIGHT
Napoleon and Josephine in bed. The mood is post-coital
depression for Napoleon; submission and apprehension for
Josephine. There is a long silence before any one speaks.
Were you in love with him?
I thought I was. I was confused.
Now, I know that I shall die if you
Do you expect me to believe that?
And you, are you in love with any
But you have had mistresses while
you were away.
Were you in love with any of them?
Were they pretty?
Were any of them prettier than I am?
One had better legs.
Were any of them married?
Yes. They were the easiest. I made
love to one of them within ten
minutes of our first meeting.
She must have been in love with you.
Not in the least. After all, what is
adultery — only a brief transaction
on a couch, requiring a few minutes
Josephine presses against him.
Promise me you will never leave me.
I cannot promise you that.
I will never forgive you.
I don’t care, but promise you will
never leave me.
I don’t understand you.
Promises mean nothing.
Perhaps — but tell me you promise,
All right — I promise.
You are my old friend.
TITLE: COUP D’ETAT
INT. SALON – NIGHT
A small crowd of men talking to Napoleon, Sieyes, Roger-
Ducos, Joseph and Lucien Bonaparte and Talleyrand. The
meeting is jovial and relaxed.
For the next three weeks, conspiracy
was openly carried on in Paris — in
the salons of bankers, generals,
politicians and government
INT. FOUCHE OFFICE – DAY
Fouche at work as Minister of Police.
The man responsible for protecting
the government, the Minister of
Police, Joseph Fouche, was part of
EXT. HOUSE – NIGHT
A sleepy deputy, in his night shirt, receives his special
summons from a cloaked messenger.
In the early morning hours on
November 9th, notifications of an
emergency meeting of the councils,
to be held that morning at 7
o’clock, were delivered to those
deputies who supported the
INT. COUNCIL HALL – DAY
Sieyes addresses the deputies. A good third of the seats
Sieyes warned the sympathetic
deputies of an imminent plot to
seize the government by the radical
Jacobin party, none of whose members
had been summoned to the assembly.
He then proposed two resolutions
which were quickly passed.
EXT. PARIS STREET – DAY
The exciting clatter of horses hoofs on cobblestones draws
confused spectators to the sight of Napoleon at the head
of 50 gold-braided generals, on their way to the assembly.
The first called for the appointment
of Napoleon to command the troops
assigned to protect the councils.
The second called for the councils
to be moved, on the following day,
to St. Cloud, ten miles from Paris,
where they would be safe, and out of
reach of the Paris mob.
INT. BARRAS SALON – DAY
Barras, in his bathrobe signing 6 copies of his
resignation. Talleyrand hovers over him, carefully
putting the signed copies to one side. Three officers
stand by the door.
Later, the same day, the three
members of the Directory who were
not part of the plot were
effectively taken out of the
picture. Barras was forced to
resign under threat of death and an
offer of gilded exile.
INT. LUXEMBOURG – DAY
Moulins and Gohier glumly eating an elegant lunch, laid
out on a desk. Two soldiers stand guard at the door.
Gohier and Moulins, who would not be
intimidated, were locked up under
guard at the Luxembourg.
EXT. GROUNDS OF ST. CLOUD PALACE – DAY
Warmly-dressed spectators have made the dawn journey from
Paris, and are scattered about the gardens and lawns,
breakfasting from picnic baskets.
Groups of infantry laze on the grass, playing cards,
reading, smoking and sleeping.
The next morning, on November 10th,
at the Palace of St. Cloud, the
final moves were to be made which
would bring Napoleon to supreme
INT. ORANGERY – DAY
A long, narrow annexe, with high windows which open out
onto a courtyard, occupied by troops. There are no chairs
and the deputies, dressed in their strange-looking, long,
scarlet togas and odd, square birettas, are uncomfortably
crowded together, in emergency session.
Lucien Bonaparte, who is the temporary President, looks
Delbrel, the leader of the Jacobin party is in the middle
of a speech to the deputies. He is an effective orator,
with the right mixture of sarcasm and a sense of moral
Citizen Deputies, we have been
isolated here at St. Cloud and
surrounded by troops. Yesterday, we
were told this was to protect us
against a plot to seize the
government. Today we are told that
all five members of the Directory
have suddenly, and without any
warning, resigned. Now we have been
asked to pass a resolution forming a
provisional government, of three
consuls to replace the five
directors — these three consuls
being General Bonaparte and two of
the newly-resigned members of the
Directory, Sieyes and Roger-Ducos.
We have further been asked to
adjourn this assembly for a period
of three months, leaving all
executive and administrative power
in the hands of the three newly-
appointed consuls, who will then
draw up a new Constitution.
Citizen Deputies, does any one in
this room have the slightest doubts
as to what is being attempted, or to
the identity of those who are
Especially so, since I have it on
excellent authority that the three
members of the Directory who are not
present here today have, indeed, not
resigned willingly, but in the case
of Gohier and Moulins, they are
under arrest in the Luxembourg —
and, in the case of Barras, a
resignation was forced from him
under threat of death.
Pandemonium breaks out in the assembly.
Order, order, order. Citizen
Delbrel, you are out of order. You
are out of order.
And you, Citizen Bonaparte — your
role as President of this assembly
is an honorary one, given only for
the period on one month, on the
occasion of your brother’s return
from Egypt. And since your
nomination was originally put
forward by the two conspirators,
Sieyes and Roger-Ducos, I demand
that you immediately disqualify
yourself from these proceedings and
leave this chamber!!
Uproar of approval, and cries of “Long Live the Republic.”
You are out of order, Citizen
Delbrel! You are out of order!
INT. ST. CLOUD SALON – DAY
The conspirators wait in what was formerly one of Marie-
Antoinette’s reception salons, now bare of all furniture
except three arm-chairs grouped before a large, ornate
fireplace, in which there is a small fire.
The shouting from the Orangery can be faintly heard
through the walls.
Napoleon paces, nervously.
Sieyes, huddled in an overcoat, stares apprehensively into
the fire. Roger-Ducos pokes at it with a damp log.
Joseph Bonaparte stands, gazing out of the window at the
troops, sprawled on the grass.
There is a knock at the door.
Major Lavallette to see you,
Send him in.
Lavallette comes in, salutes.
General Bonaparte, I have a message
from Lucien. He says there is not
chance at all now to bring the
proposals to a vote. Delbrel has
given the alarm to the other
parties. He says you must either
use the troops immediately, or think
of saving yourselves.
Oh, my God. I told you he should
have been arrested yesterday. Why
did I listen to you?
Napoleon ignores Sieyes and walks to the window.
Will you use the troops?
Only as a last resort. What are the
Councils doing now?
Both chambers are swearing an oath
to the Constitution.
Knock at the door.
A message from Citizen Fouche.
Let me have it.
The officer hands Napoleon an envelope and exits.
Napoleon looks at the note and, then, reads it aloud.
My dear Bonaparte, if you have not
already done so, I urge you to press
things to a conclusion. I cannot
guarantee the situation for very
much longer in Paris.
Sieyes, in an absolute panic, leans over and whispers to
Go and make sure the carriage and
driver are ready to leave at a
Roger-Ducos exits. Napoleon paces the room.
Well — what are you going to do?
Have patience — all will be well.
There is a knock at the door.
Citizen Bourrienne to see you, sir.
Send him in.
A message from Lucien — he says
that you had better act now.
Delbrel is going to introduce a
motion to halt the oaths and take a
vote to outlaw the three of you.
Oh, my God! Oh, my God! We will
all be on the guillotine in 24
Please stop chattering — and let me
There is nothing left to think
about. We will be outlawed! You’ve
waited too long! I’m leaving, and
any one who wishes to save his neck
will follow suit.
INT. ORANGERY – DAY
Deputies going through the ritual of individually swearing
their oaths to the Constitution.
Napoleon enters with four grenadier guards and causes an
The grenadiers try to force a passage to approach the
speaker’s rostrum but a group of Jacobin deputies bar the
What — bayonets in here?
Soldiers! You are violating the
sanctuary of the laws. Withdraw
Please stand out of the way. Four
grenadiers are no threat to you.
Citizen Deputies, please stand out
of the way — I wish to approach the
Is it for this, then, that you
became a conqueror?
Withdraw, withdraw immediately, I
Citizens, please stand aside. I
wish to approach the speaker’s
Down with the Dictator! Down with
Outlaw him! Outlaw him!
The cry is picked up of “Dictator,” “Tyrant,” and
A scuffle breaks out and Napoleon is knocked to the ground
and viciously kicked. His guards manage to club their way
into this melee and drag him out of the Orangery.
EXT. ORANGERY – DAY
Among the soldiers, Napoleon, his face bloody, mounts a
horse and rides through his men. The troops are confused
by his appearance but give him a cheer as he passes by.
It is now five o’clock and the grey November dusk is
closing in. A cry of “Long Live Bonaparte” thunders
through the courtyard.
INT. ORANGERY – DAY
The deputies are still in an uproar, but gradually the
sound of drums, beating the charge, is heard. The drums
get louder and a silence falls over the chamber. The
drumming gets louder. The door is thrown open and Murat
stands at the head of a column of grenadiers, with fixed
Citizens, you are dissolved.
EXT. ST. CLOUD – DUSK
Deputies climb through the windows and are jeered by the
onlookers. Napoleon paces, nervously.
At the age of 30, Napoleon would now
become 1st Consul and head of the
Executive, for a period of ten
years. The other two Consuls would
become merely figure-heads.
INT. TUILERIES SALON – DAY
Painted cardboard figures, about six inches high,
representing Napoleon, Josephine and the principal
personages involved in the forthcoming coronation, are
pushed about, discussed and noted, as the group plans the
complex stage management of the coronation.
Napoleon, Josephine, the painter David, and a small
entourage are seated, standing and kneeling around a
cardboard mock-up of the interior of Notre Dame Cathedral.
In the five years that followed,
Napoleon gave proof of his brilliant
legislative, administrative and
organizational powers. He created
effective and enduring institutions
of government; revitalized the
economy; negotiated a concordat with
the Pope, thus ending the religious
rebellion in the Vendee; reconciled
the bitterness between right and
left by opening all careers to
talent, and bringing into his
government the best minds of the
aristocracy and the ablest survivors
of the revolution. Napoleon had
secured the main social and material
gains of the revolution, destroying
privileged orders and modernizing
the state. In exchange for this, he
would now be given power far more
absolute than any Bourbon monarch.
INT. NOTRE DAME – DAY
The Coronation. At the moment when the Pope reaches for
the crown of Charlemagne, to take it from the altar,
Napoleon takes it, and, with his own hands, places it on
Napoleon looks, with an air of pride and satisfaction, at
Josephine, as she advances towards him, at the altar, and
when she kneels down, tears fall upon her clasped hands,
raised to heaven — or, rather to Napoleon.
On December 2, 1804, Napoleon was
made Emperor of France. He would
later say: “I found the crown lying
in the gutter and I picked it up.”
Duroc, I have a bill here for
600,000 francs from Tirot, for
building the Imperial throne and six
decorated arm-chairs. The amount is
absurd — and, at least twice too
INT. TUILERIES DINING ROOM – NIGHT
Candlelight, silver service — beautiful women, important
guests. Napoleon and Josephine are seated at opposite
ends of a long table. Placed at Napoleon’s elbow is the
strikingly beautiful Madame Trillaud, a sexy brunette. He
speaks to her husband. Dessert is being served.
The revolution failed because the
foundation of its political
philosophy was in error. Its
central dogma was the transference
of original sin from man to society.
It had the rosy vision that by
nature man is good, and that he is
only corrupted by an incorrectly
organized society. Destroy the
offending social institutions,
tinker with the machine a bit, and
you have Utopia — presto! —
natural man back in all his
Laugher at the table.
It’s a very attractive idea but it
simply isn’t true. They had the
whole thing backwards. Society is
corrupt because man is corrupt —
because he is weak, selfish,
hypocritical and greedy. And he is
not made this way by society, he is
born this way — you can see it even
in the youngest children. It’s no
good trying to build a better
society on false assumptions —
authority’s main job is to keep man
from being at his worst and, thus,
make life tolerable, for the greater
number of people.
Your Majesty, you certainly have a
very pessimistic view of human
My dear Monsieur Trillaud, I am not
paid for finding it better.
Napoleon exchanges a significant look with his Major-domo,
who nods, picks up a wine decanter, and comes up to Madame
Trillaud’s place to refill her glass, deliberately
spilling wine on the front of her dress.
You clumsy fool. Quick, we need
Endless ad lib apologies by the Major-domo.
This way, if you please, Madame.
The Major-domo gestures to some place out of the room.
No, no, I’ll take care of it myself.
We don’t want to have any more
Napoleon, the Major-domo and Madame Trillaud exit the
room, amid apologies, reassurances.
The guests resume their conversations, but Josephine, who
has seen the routine before, is distracted and agitated.
INT. TUILERIES HIDEAWAY – NIGHT
A small, hideaway room, reached by a back staircase,
leading off Napoleon’s private office. It is all couches,
cushions, velvet, mirrors and dim candles.
Napoleon, Madame Trillaud and Major-domo enter.
Quick, where is the water?
Here it is, Your Majesty.
Ah, good, here — allow me, Madame
Napoleon and the Major-domo exchange another look, and the
Major-domo hurriedly exits the room, springing a catchlock
Napoleon’s attention immediately shifts from Madame
Trillaud’s dress to Madame herself. His efforts to rub
off the wine stains gradually become more intimate.
Oh! Your Majesty!
Don’t be afraid.
Napoleon takes her in his arms.
But the guests… my husband… the
Don’t be afraid, my dear. We shall
be back before dessert is finished.
Napoleon kisses her and fumbles with her clothes, to
remove them. After several passionate seconds, there is a
timid knock at the door.
Madame Trillaud looks startled but Napoleon puts his
finger to her lips and continues.
After fifteen seconds, there is another knock on the door,
Don’t worry. It’s only the night
More kissing, then a louder and more insistent knock.
This time they both sit up. More knocking. Madame
Trillaud is frightened.
Yes — what is it?
Open the door. It’s me.
Go away — I’m busy.
I know what you’re doing in there.
Don’t be ridiculous and go away —
I’m busy working.
Where is Madame Trillaud?
How should I know. Ask Roquier —
he’s cleaning her dress.
What are you doing in there?
Oh — now, this is absolutely
ridiculous! If you don’t want to be
humiliated in front of your guests,
you will return to the table at
Will you be joining us, soon?
I will be there in five minutes. Go
back to your guests.
Madame Trillaud starts to get up. Napoleon stops her.
Darling — don’t be ridiculous. We
have five minutes. Where are you
But, Your Majesty, we will be missed
Of course we won’t — five minutes
will never be noticed.
He tumbles her back on to the bed.
INT. JOSEPHINE’S BEDROOM – TUILERIES – NIGHT
(in a subdued voice)
How dare you do that to me tonight?
How dare you? Do you realize who
Madame Trillaud’s husband is?
Suppose he found out?
Josephine sobs. Napoleon speaks in sharp hisses, to keep
the servants from overhearing.
Oh, shut up, will you?
Your tears have absolutely no effect
on me… What a fool I have been! I
am not a man like any other man. I
must be free — I must be free to do
what I please. I must be free of
this sordid jealousy!
Napoleon looks at the figure of his distraught wife. She
is on her knees, slumped across the seat of a chair.
(slowly and quietly)
Very well, then, I will not put a
specific time limit on this, but you
must accept the idea that we will
have to be divorced, and soon…
And, from now on, we will sleep in
This last remark finally causes Josephine to attempt to
speak, red-eyed, sniveling, unable to put words together
without involuntary shudders and sobs.
But you will not… be safe…
Not be safe? What on earth are you
In case of a… surprise attack…
at night… I am such a… light
sleeper… I could wake you… I
This is such a pathetically dumb remark, it stops
INT. TUILERIES HALL – NIGHT
Napoleon, in his nightshirt, follow Roustam along the
corridor. When they reach Josephine’s door, Roustam hands
Napoleon the candle and leaves. Napoleon knocks.
Who is it?
Josephine quickly opens the door.
Napoleon enters the room and she locks the door. He walks
to the bed and sits down. He seems depressed. He sits,
staring at the floor.
(touching the bed)
Josephine sits down next to him. He puts his arms around
I didn’t mean the things that I
said… I was angry and I said more
than I meant to.
Oh, my darling. I’m sorry, too. I
won’t do that again — whatever you
do. I won’t cause you any more
embarrassment, I promise.
Napoleon squeezes her shoulder. Her surrender has not
brought him happiness.
Oh — I didn’t tell you… I’ve seen
Dr. Corvisart, and he was very
reassuring and encouraging. He has
had excellent results with the
waters of Plombiers, and he thinks
it would be a good idea for me to
spend a few weeks there.
Apparently, he sent Madame Le Floch
there last year, and she gave birth
Indeed — well, you may tell Dr.
Corvisart, I should be entirely
satisfied with half her success.
EXT. FIELD – DAY
George III reviewing British troops. Military band.
Since the year 1069, France and
England had been at war for a total
of 152 years. And, from 1338, the
Kings of England also called
themselves the Kings of France,
until Napoleon obliged them to drop
this title at the time of the short-
lived Peace Treaty of Amiens, in
1802. In the following year,
England again declared war on
France, and the conflict between
British and French imperialism for
maritime supremacy and world power
would now be fought to a finish.
EXT. BLUFF – DAY
A high, windy bluff, overlooking the English Channel.
Napoleon and his entourage study the English fleet, moored
several miles offshore, and the cliffs of Dover, just
visible on the horizon.
The struggle was resumed on familiar
and inconclusive lines, as neither
side could really get to grips,
while England was supreme on the sea
and Napoleon on land.
Showing French naval strategy.
Napoleon devised a plan to lure the
British fleet into a wild goose
chase, to the West Indies, leaving
the Channel unprotected long enough
for the French to ferry their army
safely across. But the scheme was
poorly executed, and eventually led
to the disastrous French naval
defeat at Trafalgar.
EXT. OCEAN BOTTOM – DAY
Eerie shot of two French ships lying on sea bottom.
INT. ADMIRAL’S CABIN – DAY
A drowned French Admiral floats in his cabin with his
papers, books, clothes and a roast chicken.
EXT. PARADE GROUND – DAY
Francis II, the severe, opportunistic Emperor of Austria,
reviewing his troops. He is a year older than Napoleon.
Napoleon’s invasion plans were
foiled by England’s correct naval
strategy, and by their alliances
with Austria and Russia. Subsidized
by England, Francis II was goaded
into war by Napoleon’s assumption of
the crown of Italy.
EXT. PARADE GROUND – DAY
The 29-year old Tsar Alexander reviewing Russian troops.
He was joined by the young,
melancholy Tsar Alexander I, who had
ascended the throne at the age of
24, after the Palace Guard murder of
his father, Tsar Paul, and now had
rival pretensions to Napoleon as the
arbiter of Europe.
EXT. REAR AREA AUSTERLITZ BATTLEFIELD – DAY
The young Tsar sits by the side of the road and weeps.
His entourage stand by ineffectually, at a respectful
distance. All around him is the evidence of the Russian
disaster at Austerlitz.
But four months later, on the
anniversary of Napoleon’s
coronation, Alexander would weep
over the shattered wreck of his
army, on the battlefield of
EXT. NAPOLEON HQ AUSTERLITZ – DAY
A cold, blustery day. A large fire has been built at the
base of a steep-sided gully. French cavalry vedettes are
posted at the top of the hill. A party of 50 Austrian
hussars, escorting 3 Imperial carriages, comes to a halt.
Drummers and trumpeters sound a salute.
Napoleon helps the defeated Emperor Francis, of Austria,
from his carriage, embracing him with cordiality.
This is the first meeting between Napoleon and an
important European monarch.
Ah, my dear Francis, what a genuine
pleasure it is to meet you at last.
I fear our meeting is long
I’m sorry that I am unable to offer
you better hospitality, but this is
the only place I have inhabited for
the past month.
You have made such excellent use of
it; I should think you will hate to
Shall we move closer to the fire?
Yes — an excellent idea.
They leave their staffs standing on the road.
Will Alexander be joining us soon?
I very much doubt that he will.
I’m afraid he has been rather upset
by the outcome of the battle.
Francis has developed a violent chill.
But he asked me to say…
on his behalf… that your
achievements have increased his…
admiration for you, and that he
believes… your success is
predestined by heaven…
and that his army…
My dear Francis, you do seem
I’m afraid I am, just a bit.
(offering a flask)
Would you like some brandy?
I’ll have the fire built up.
He shouts to his staff.
Berthier, we need some more wood for
the fire — and some brandy.
Berthier issues orders and soldiers dash off for the wood.
An aide dashes forward with the brandy.
Thank you, Napoleon.
Francis, may I ask whether you wear
warm winter underwear?
Francis downs a big swig of brandy.
No — not as a rule.
Ah, well, that is the first rule of
warfare. You must wear long-sleeved
and long-legged underwear. You can
never conjure up brilliancies with a
They both laugh — Francis, cheerlessly.
EXT. FRENCH EMBASSY IN BERLIN – DAY
As an act of provocation, Prussian noble guards sharpen
their swords on the steps of French Embassy in Berlin.
Having ruined the Austro-Russian
alliance by her neutrality, Prussia
proceeded, in the following year, to
commit suicide by taking on Napoleon
EXT. PARADE GROUND – DAY
Queen Louisa and King Wilhelm review Prussian troops.
Led by the warlike Queen Louisa, and
her fashion-minded husband, King
Frederich Wilhelm, the Prussians
still believed themselves cast in
the mold of Frederick the Great, and
more than a match for Napoleon. The
King had a special collection of 60
splendid uniforms, and was
personally involved in the design of
all the Prussian army uniforms.
If the French army had been
commanded at Jena and Auerstadt by a
tailor, the King of Prussia would
certainly have gained the day.
INT. OPERA HOUSE – NIGHT
Napoleon enjoying a performance of “Don Giovanni.” An
aide tiptoes into the box and hands him a note which
“Prussian ultimatum delivered to me
today by Haugwitz. War is now
Napoleon quietly folds the note, putting it away in his
pocket. Berthier leans over inquiringly. Napoleon puts
his finger to his lips, redirects his attention to the
stage, crosses his arms and settles comfortably back into
Prussia would make the same
strategic error that Austria made in
the previous year, and she would
over-confidently rush forward to
meet the French alone, without
waiting for their Russian allies.
In seven days of fighting, the
Prussian army would be virtually
EXT. ROAD – DAY
Tsar Alexander, happy and confident, surrounded by aides,
flags and military grandeur, on the march with his army.
Unconvinced by his defeat at
Austerlitz, committed by alliance to
Prussia and concerned about his
interest in Poland, Alexander would
once again take the field against
EXT. NIEMEN RIVER – DAY
The colors of France and Russia flutter, side by side, in
the summer breeze, atop a large, ornately decorated raft,
moored in mid-stream. It is an incredible sight, made of
huge logs and planks, beautifully carpeted, draped with
bunting, and with two small pavilions built on top, their
roofs and walls covered with drapery, flags and colored
On the opposite banks are the massed formations and colors
of the French and Russian Imperial Guards.
At a prearranged time, nervously checked and rechecked by
pocket-watches, clicking open and closed, the two Emperors
set off, in decorated long boats, to their rendezvous in
As they proceed, an unintentional race between oarsmen
Napoleon disembarks first and is thus able to welcome Tsar
They embrace and, at this moment, a tumultuous roar of
approval, the sound of fanfares, the beating of drums,
issues forth from both banks of the river. It is a
splendid and marvelously absurd scene.
But in June of the following year,
after the crushing defeat at
Friedland, Alexander would be forced
to sue for peace again — this time
in person, and with some surprising
Ah, my dear, Napoleon, how good it
is to meet you at last.
And, what a great pleasure it is,
indeed, to meet you, Alexander.
And, what a delightful idea!
Ah — you approve?
I think it’s absolutely charming.
I’m glad you like it.
Whatever suggested the idea to you?
I shall tell you in the strictest
confidence — when I was a boy, I
had a passion for rafts, and never
had the opportunity to build one.
They both laugh.
The two Emperors now introduce their staffs.
INT. TILSIT SALON – DAY
Napoleon and Alexander, leaning on their elbows, on a
large map of the world, spread out on a table.
Alexander had come to treat as a
fallen enemy, but would find that to
be defeated by Napoleon seemed
equivalent to winning a great
victory. There would be not
territorial demands, no reparations
— only an intoxicating proposal to
divide the world between them.
EXT. FOREST – DAY
Napoleon and Alexander slowly walk through the beautiful
gloom of the dark forest. They are thoughtful, relaxed,
enjoying the splendor of the late afternoon.
We have no rivalry, we have no vital
issues at stake. We are only at war
because you are the ally of England,
and, in this, it seems to me, you
are serving only the interests of
Alexander does not immediately reply.
If your fight is against England,
and against her alone, then we shall
easily come to terms — for I have
as much reason to complain as you
have. England has brought me into
conflict with false promises, and
has left me to face defeat single-
EXT. FOREST AND FIELDS – DAY
The Tsar and Napoleon riding together, their entourage and
escort follow a few hundred yards behind.
Napoleon and Alexander would spend
two weeks together, seeing each
other every day and sharing the
entertainments of the evening. Each
had set out to charm and flatter the
other, and each would succeed. They
would talk of everything together,
as two brothers — philosophy,
women, politics, war, science.
INT. THEATER – NIGHT
The Tsar and Napoleon seated together in a box at the
My dear sister, God has saved us.
Instead of having sacrifices to
make, we are coming out of this
struggle with a kind of glory. But
what do you think about this? I
spend whole days with Bonaparte, and
hours and hours in private
conversation with him. I as you —
isn’t this like something from a
EXT. PARADE GROUND – DAY
Napoleon and Alexander reviewing French troops.
If Alexander were a woman, I think I
should fall passionately in love
with him. But, at the same time,
there is something very peculiar
about him — something lacking, but
it is impossible to foresee
precisely what will be lacking in
any given instance, for the defect
seems infinitely variable.
INT. SAUNA BATH – DAY
Alexander and Napoleon sit together, naked.
You can always tell at a glance
whether retreating infantry are
being pursed by cavalry, because
they hurry along and keep turning
around and looking back. When they
are retreating before infantry, they
merely trudge along, head down.
Fascinating! Tell me, leaving aside
the question of grand strategy, for
the moment, what would you say is
the single most difficult tactical
skill to master?
Without a doubt, to estimate the
enemy’s strength on the battlefield.
This is something that is only
acquired by experience and instinct.
At Jena, there were as many opinions
about strength of the enemy as there
were generals present. Murat said
there were 50,000, preparing to
attack. Berthier said there were no
more than 25,000, about to withdraw.
“Berthier sees only what is in the
open,” Murat said. “But don’t
forget there is a second force
hidden in the forest.” And so it
would always go, each of them would
judge things according to his own
ability, character and state of
mind, at the moment.
Ah, my dear Napoleon, sometimes I
feel that I am not really an Emperor
as you are.
What do you mean?
I know absolutely nothing of war —
and I am still totally dependent
upon my generals.
Napoleon laughs, reassuringly.
That is a problem, and I can
appreciate your feelings. But I’m
sure you have great talent for war,
and I could teach you a lot. If we
are ever at war again together, you
should lead, say, 30,000 men, under
my orders — you would soon get the
feel of it.
INT. NAPOLEON’S BATHROOM – DAY
Napoleon soaks in a steaming tub.
Talleyrand, constantly wiping his glasses, balances on his
lap a thick sheaf of draft notes of the Treaty of Tilsit,
referring to them during the discussion.
Article 46, calls for the virtual
dismemberment of Prussia, reducing
her population by half and her army
to a token force.
Does she deserve anything better?
Those are extremely harsh terms.
I did not ask her to go to war
Has Alexander agreed to this?
Yes, he has.
Talleyrand looks dismayed and leafs through some more
Now, the section headed “Secret
Clauses of the Treaty” — Article
14b, provides for Alexander to serve
as mediator between France and
England and, if he fails to achieve
a preliminary agreement within four
months, it further provides that
Russia is to go to war against
England, and close her ports to
That is correct.
Do you think Alexander has any
chance to succeed as a mediator?
I very seriously doubt it. I don’t
think there is any possibility of
making peace with England so long as
she sees herself safe from invasion.
That is why we must increase the
pressure on her economy. With
Russia in the Continental Blockade,
England must collapse. More than
40% of her trade is with the
Continent and Russia.
England can make no move against you
on the Continent without Austria. A
reliable treaty with Austria would
end her hopes in that regard.
We have a treaty with Austria.
Not one I should like to rely on.
Francis is still smarting under the
terms he had to accept after
Austerlitz, and he is under great
pressure to recover his losses.
My dear Talleyrand, none of the
Kings of Europe bear any friendship
for France. It is easy for you to
talk of reliable treaties. The only
treaties you have been able to
negotiate are the ones I have won on
What I am talking about is
What you are talking about is a
gamble on moderation — when I
gamble, I prefer to gamble on force.
And where do you place Alexander?
Alexander and I are friends. We
have reached an understanding.
I hope that understanding is worth
as much as you think it is, sire.
My impression of Alexander is that
he is moody and impressionable,
capable of acting on sudden impulses
which then lead to sudden
embarrassments. He is an
unpredictable mixture of idealism
and vanity. You have dazzled him,
and you have performed a diplomatic
miracle, but Alexander is weak and
he is easily influenced by the last
one who has his ear.
That is a matter of opinion.
Sire, you have only enemies in the
court of St. Petersburg, and I fear
outside your influence, Alexander
will have another look at what he
has agreed to.
He will stand by his agreement — I
know him better than you do.
EXT. NIEMEN RIVER – DAY
Napoleon and Alexander exchange fraternal embraces, on the
bank of the Niemen river. Music, cheers, massed troops,
flags, cannon salutes.
My dear Alexander, between us there
must never be any third parties. We
must always deal directly with each
other and never allow Ministers or
advisors to muddy the waters.
TITLE: THE FALL
INT. THRONE ROOM TUILERIES – DAY
Present for the Imperial divorce are all the high officers
of the Crown and the Empire, the Bonaparte family,
Hortense, Eugene. Josephine is seated next to Napoleon,
her eyes downcast.
The political interests of my
monarchy, and the wishes of my
people, require that I should
transmit to an heir, the throne, on
which providence has placed me. For
many years, I have lost all hopes of
having children by my beloved wife,
the Empress Josephine. It is this
consideration which induces me to
sacrifice the dearest affections of
my heart, to consult only the good
of my subjects, and to desire the
dissolution of our marriage.
Josephine, holding a paper in her hands, tries to read it
but uncontrollable sobs choke her voice.
With the permission of my august and
dear husband, I must declare that,
retaining no hope of having
children, who may satisfy the
requirements of his policy in the
interests of France, I have the
pleasure of giving him the greatest
proof of attachment and devotedness
that was ever given on earth…
She cannot continue, and breaks down completely. Eugene
and Hortense comfort her. Hortense is crying, too.
But the Bonaparte family watch the proceedings, unmoved.
They have never forgiven Josephine.
Napoleon is pale and shaken. He whispers to an official,
Regnault de Saint-Jean-d’Angely, who picks up Josephine’s
speech from the floor. He reads the speech to the
accompaniment of Josephine’s tears.
I respond to all the sentiments of
the Emperor in consenting to the
dissolution of a marriage which is
now an obstacle to the happiness of
France, be depriving it of the
blessing of being, one day, governed
by the descendants of that great
man, who was evidently raised up by
providence to efface the evils of a
terrible revolution, and to restore
the altar, the throne and social
EXT. MALMAISON GARDEN – DAY
Napoleon and Josephine walking, arm in arm. Their
entourages follow, a few hundred feet behind.
On the day after the divorce,
Napoleon drove to Malmaison to visit
with Josephine, and this visit was
to set a pattern for all those to
come. They were always announced in
advance, there was something
ceremonious and constrained about
them, and they always left Josephine
in a state of deep depression.
INT. MALMAISON DINING ROOM – NIGHT
The dining room at Malmaison. Josephine and Hortense are
at dinner. Josephine is reading a letter from Napoleon,
her food untouched. Hortense is nervous and upset.
(reading from letter)
My dearest Josephine — I was
heartsick at the sight of you
yesterday. I, too, am sad today and
need to know that you are more
composed. This great palace echoes
with emptiness and I feel terribly
isolated. I am dinning all alone
tonight. The page I sent to
Malmaison this morning tells me he
saw you weeping. You promised me
you would stop. I want very much to
come to see you but you will have to
show more self-control.
Josephine puts the letter down.
Sometimes I have the feeling that I
am dead, and that the only sign of
life remaining to me is the vague
sensation that I no longer exist.
INT. TUILERIES BALLROOM – DAY
Napoleon is dancing with Murat. The only other person in
the large ballroom is Berthier. A trio of musicians,
placed outside the closed door, plays a waltz.
Murat is teaching Napoleon how to waltz. He is an expert
teacher, and Napoleon is a reasonable pupil. Berthier
INT. AUSTRIAN EMBASSY RECEPTION IN PARIS – NIGHT
Duroc is dozing in an arm-chair. He is awakened by the
arrival of the Austrian Ambassador, Schwarzenburg, who
enters the room, covered with mud, his face smeared with
blood, and a deep cut behind his ear, trickling blood down
on his collar.
Good heavens, Ambassador — what has
Ah, good evening, my dear Duroc.
I’m afraid I’ve been out hunting and
I have had a rather bad fall.
Indeed you have, Ambassador. Have
you sent for a doctor?
Yes, I have, and I hope you will
forgive me, Duroc, but unless your
visit is extremely urgent, I shall
have to ask you to excuse me until
I beg your indulgence, Ambassador,
but it is.
(holding his face)
He takes the Ambassador by the elbow and speaks softly so
that they cannot be overheard.
The Emperor has decided to marry
your Archduchess, Marie-Louise.
What is that?
Earlier this afternoon, the Emperor
refused the hand of the Grand
Duchess Anna, of Russia, and, as I’m
sure you can appreciate, he is quite
able to change his mind again. For
the Emperor, to choose a wife, is
only a matter of minutes.
But this is not a matter which can
be settled tonight, surely?
No one can say how the Emperor’s
thoughts work, Ambassador, and
unless we move quickly, he might
change his mind again.
But, my dear Duroc, how can I act
without guidance from Vienna? I
haven’t the slightest idea of how
the Emperor Francis might feel about
May I suggest that we can prepare
and sign the agreement, between
ourselves, subject to the approval
of the two Emperors. Believe me, my
dear friend, your Archduchess,
Marie-Louis, may very well hold, in
her hands, the future of our two
INT. THRONE ROOM SCHONBRUNN PALACE – DAY
The proxy wedding of Marie-Louis and Napoleon in Vienna.
The Archduke Charles stands in for the absent Napoleon.
I grant my daughter’s hand to the
Emperor of the French.
I, with my father’s permission, give
my consent to my union with the
Berthier turns to Marie-Louise, presents her with a letter
from Napoleon, and a portrait of him, in a medallion,
surrounded by 12 extremely large diamonds.
INT. IMPERIAL COACH – RAIN – NIGHT
Marie-Louise’s coach, and those of her entourage bounce
along a road near Compiegne, in a driving rain storm.
Napoleon’s sister, Caroline, Queen of Naples, reviews the
protocol to be followed.
Marie-Louise looks tired, confused, slightly sick and
On arriving, the Empress Marie-
Louise will ascend the steps on the
north side, and the Emperor Napoleon
will use those on the south side.
The monarchs will arrive at the
middle simultaneously. Upon
perceiving the Emperor, the Empress
will kneel and bow her head, and the
Emperor will raise and embrace her.
Suddenly, there is a banging on the windowpane, and the
women shriek. The door opens, and a man, on horseback,
jumps in. Marie-Louis is seized, passionately embraced
and drenched, by a rain-soaked cloak. Shrieks and
Good evening, ladies. You must
forgive me, my dearest wife, but I
simply could not wait to see you.
Oh, then you are…
Yes, my dearest Marie-Louise, I am
They both laugh.
Napoleon looks at her, admiringly, and takes her hand.
My dear, sweet Marie-Louis, you are
even more beautiful than your
Marie-Louise giggles and lowers her eyes.
And, where did you see my portrait?
Ah, you must forgive me, my dearest
Marie-Louise, I saw it during one of
my stays at your palace — at
They both laugh.
I hope you will forgive me for any
inconveniences I may have caused
you, and your family, in the past.
And, you, my dear wife, do you find
that I resemble my portraits?
You are much younger, and much more
handsome, than your pictures.
Good! Good! Then we are both
pleased with each other. How
fortunate we are — eh? How
fortunate we are!
INT. COMPIEGNE BEDROOM – NIGHT
Napoleon and Marie-Louise in bed, the marriage is about to
be consummated. Her cloistered upbringing has not
prepared her very well for this moment. Each time
Napoleon is about to take her in his arms, she speaks.
Do you like music?
Yes, I do — very much.
Will I be able to play the harp? It
is an instrument of which I am very
Of course, my dear.
You are so good to me. Will you
also allow me to have a botanical
You may have anything you wish, my
sweet and lovely Marie-Louise.
I am told that Fontainebleau has
many lovely views. I know nothing
more interesting than a lovely
I am sure you will enjoy the French
I hope you have patience with me. I
do not know how to dance the
quadrille but, if you desire it, I
I only desire what gives you
pleasure, my dearest.
Will it be possible to have my dog,
Bijou, sent here? I was not allowed
to bring her and I love her so much.
Of course, my dear — how cruel to
have been separated from her. And
how strange it must be for you to be
here, away from your family and
everything you know.
Oh, no, I am very happy. But you
must have patience with me… I know
nothing at all of what a wife must
know. And I know nothing about men.
My papa has never allowed me even to
have a pet of the male gender.
Did the Emperor or Empress give you
any… instructions of any kind…
before you left?
Papa said only to comply with any
request you might make of me.
Oh, my dearest child — you must not
worry about anything. I will teach
you everything that you must know.
Napoleon sits up in bed.
Do you know the joke about the two
Swiss boys who go to a bordello for
the first time?
Well, two nice little Swiss boys,
who are virgins, decide they will
save up their money and go to a
At the door, one of them loses his
nerve and decides to wait in the
street while his more adventuresome
friend goes inside. Fifteen minutes
later his friend comes out.
Napoleon does the dialogue with a heavy Swiss accent.
“Well, what was it like?” the timid
one asks. “Oh,” his friend
nonchalantly replied, “The movements
are ridiculously simple, but the
feeling is wonderful!”
Marie-Louise shrieks with laughter which persists until
tears run down her cheeks.
Napoleon gently takes her into his arms.
Blow out the candle, please.
He does. The screen is black. We hear some heavy
breathing, then Marie-Louise, giggling — then, themes and
variations of her giggling.
EXT. TUILERIES BALCONY – DAY
Napoleon holds up his son, the infant King of Rome, to the
cheering multitude below. Standing beside him are Marie-
Louise, his mother and entourage.
EXT. MALMAISON ZOO – DAY
Josephine is showing the year-old, King of Rome, the small
Malmaison zoo. She carries him in her arms. Madame de
Montesquiou, a kind woman, the child’s governess, walks
along with them.
Ah, my dear Madame de Montesquiou,
you have no idea what happiness it
brings me to see this child, at
last. I was told the very idea of
such a visit would too much distress
I am delighted to be of service to
you again, Your Highness. And I can
tell you, my instructions came
directly from the Emperor, with a
caution to be discreet.
Oh… I see. I understand. How
is… the Emperor?
I rarely see him, Your Highness, but
I believe he is in excellent health,
and he is very happy with the child.
Ah, that is good.
And, you seem in excellent health,
Ah, well, my dear Madame de
Montesquiou, peace of mind can
eventually be a substitute for
Suddenly, the little boy begins making happy noises about
one of the animals, and Josephine hugs him. Her eyes fill
My dear sweet child, one day,
perhaps you will know the sacrifice
I have made for you, and I leave it
to your governess to make you aware
EXT. TUILERIES GARDEN – DAY
Imperial Guard sergeant proudly carries the King of Rome.
Napoleon and Marie-Louise are seated on a park bench
My adorable papa, I can announce to
you that your prophesy has been
realized. I am as happy as
possible. My husband loves me
profoundly and I return his
affection. I feel sure that I shall
live happily with him. I assure
you, my dear papa, that the Emperor
is as careful of my health as you
EXT. TUILERIES GARDEN – DAY
King of Rome, now 1 1/2 years-old, riding in a
magnificently decorated cart, pulled by two lambs,
supervised by Napoleon, Marie-Louise, Duroc and Murat.
INT. TUILERIES NURSERY – DAY
The King of Rome is asleep, holding onto one of Napoleon’s
fingers. Letizia looks lovingly at her son and grandson.
Magnificent toys are scattered about the room.
EXT. NARROW RUSSIAN ROAD – DAY
A narrow, sandy track. A French courier, Major Fidon, in
a heavy barouche, is making slow progress. Immediately
behind him is a Russian light kibitka, which has, for some
time, been unsuccessfully trying to pass him. The driver
of the Russian vehicle is impatiently ringing a bell and
(taps on the window)
Stop the carriage!
The French driver brings the horses to a sudden halt,
almost causing a collision from the rear.
The French courier storms out and hurries to the Russian
carriage. Ignoring the driver, he unceremoniously opens
the door and addresses a very distinguished looking
Russian gentleman seated inside.
Good day, monsieur. Do you think it
is possible for you to tell your
driver to stop ringing that bell?
My regrets, my dear Major, but I
believe you have been blocking the
Are you trying to provoke me,
No, Major, I merely wish to state
that your vehicle appears to be
somewhat slower and heavier than
mine, and point out that, if you
would be kind enough to pull over to
one side of the road, I could pass
you and be on my way.
May I inform you, monsieur, that I
am Major Fidon, official courier to
the court of the Emperor Napoleon,
on my way to our Embassy at St.
Petersburg and, in accordance with
the rules of the road, no one may
overtake or pass me.
Before you quote the rules of the
road to me, Major, may I point out
to you that you are not in France
now, but that you are a guest in
If I have given you any cause to be
insulted, monsieur, may I offer you
(pulling his door
If you wish to put things on that
basis, then I will say good day to
The French officer glares at him and walks back to his
carriage. He gets back inside and drives off, still
blocking the road.
Suddenly, the road widens and it becomes possible for the
Russian to pass. The driver seizes the opportunity and
easily passes the French barouche.
Insolent bastard! Insolent bastard!
In a fury, the French courier pulls out his pistol, leans
out of the window and fires several poorly-aimed shots at
the rapidly diminishing vehicle.
By 1810, relations between France
and Russia were wearing thin. The
terms Russia had agreed to at
Tilsit, three years earlier, were
proving to be unrealistic and
ruinous to her.
INT. KREMLIN OFFICE – NIGHT
Tsar Alexander and Caulaincourt. Alexander is slightly
It is a thing entirely unknown in
diplomacy, that one government
should assume a right to dictate to
another, who is upon terms of
equality, the conditions on which
she should conduct her commerce;
and, assuming such a right, second
it by threatening language, in case
But, Your Majesty, the very
substance of the Tilsit treaty was
that you should join the Continental
Blockade, boycott English goods,
suspend all commercial dealings with
her, and be France’s ally. Nothing
more is being asked than to comply
with the treaty.
My dear Caulaincourt, agreements can
endure only when they allow both
sides to live. Napoleon may believe
it is necessary to injure England
but, before that, he must realize it
is necessary for him to allow his
friends to live. He cannot expect
me to tell my nobles they must ruin
themselves so that he can bring
England to her knees — and I’m
afraid that is what it has come to.
I can appreciate what Your Majesty
is saying but the Emperor has staked
everything on this policy. He has
no other way to attack England, and
no one knows more than Your Majesty
how his overtures for peace have
It’s a fine thing to establish
policies but, when they don’t work,
they must be reconsidered. Granted
that you have hurt England, but she
is still on her feet. And to seal
off her trade with Europe, what has
it cost you? You have had to rule
with an iron hand. You have turned
friends into enemies. And even at
that, the result has only been
partly effective. You have never
been able to stop the extensive
cheating, smuggling and corruption
— even of your own officials. But
I should think the situation in
Spain, alone, would give your policy
a minus balance. You have had to
commit a quarter of a million of
your best troops against the
guerrillas, with no victory in sight.
And you have given England a
dangerous foothold on the Continent,
for her armies.
I am in no position to debate this
with you, Your Majesty, but can you
imagine what a blow it will be to
the Emperor if you should now desert
his cause? It would mean nothing
less than victory for England.
My dear Caulaincourt, you have no
idea of how compromised my own
position has become since Tilsit. I
am blamed by the army for the
military disaster at Austerlitz and
Friedland, by the nobility for
ruining their trade with England, by
the merchants who must accept French
foods at unprofitable prices, and by
the nation for allowing Napoleon to
dictate Russian policy.
Alexander comes up to Caulaincourt and takes his arm. He
speaks slowly and factually.
Caulaincourt, my father was
strangled in his bed by his own
Palace Guard. Can you blame me for
not wishing to meet the same end?
Caulaincourt is at a loss for a reply.
Your Majesty knows my affection for
him is deep and genuine, and goes
far beyond my official role as
Ambassador. But I would be remiss
in my feelings for you, and in my
responsibility to the Emperor, if I
did not say that it is entirely
possible that the Emperor will view
your refutation of the terms of the
Treaty of Tilsit, as the first step
in the exchange of a French alliance
for an English one — with all the
dangers that might entail.
(after a long pause)
I have given a great deal of thought
to that possibility, and I am
prepared to face it. If it should
come to war, and I presume that is
what you are alluding to, I would
rather have war with the Emperor
than my own people.
INT. NAPOLEON’S OFFICE TUILERIES – DAY
Monsieur Barbier, I would like to
have all the books, that are best
worth consulting, on the topography
of Russia, and especially of
Lithuania, with special attention to
the rivers, forests, roads, marshes
and so forth. I would also like to
have the most detailed account there
is of Charles XII’s campaigns in
Poland and Russia.
INT. NAPOLEON’S OFFICE – NIGHT
Maps and books are everywhere. Napoleon is on his hands
and knees, creeping around on a huge map of Russia.
The seeds of the Russian campaign of
1812 were planted at Tilsit, in
1807, and began to bear fruit in
1810, when Alexander reopened his
ports to British goods and imposed
high tariffs on French imports.
From then on, the situation between
France and Russia steadily began to
deteriorate — friction grew,
accusations were exchanged,
spasmodic negotiations were
attempted, tension increased and
extensive military preparations were
carried out by both sides.
EXT. DRESDEN STREET – DAY
Crowds. Honor Guard. Imperial carriages. Napoleon and
Marie-Louise greet Francis of Austria, Frederich Wilhelm
of Prussia, and the other Kings.
Napoleon had made up his mind that a
showdown with Russia was inevitable.
Dresden was appointed as a mutual
rendezvous for all the Kings,
Princes, Dukes and dependent
royalties of every description, who
were subordinates to Napoleon, or
who hoped for good or evil at his
hands. And it was here, on May 16,
1812, where for the last time he
would appear as King of Kings.
Emperor Francis of Austria and his wife, Maria Ludovica,
embrace the Imperial couple.
Since my marriage, some people have
said the lion has been sleeping —
they will now see whether he has
The Emperor of Austria, with his
Empress, had come to honor his
mighty son-in-law. But he had
already written to Alexander that
the Treaty just signed with France
should not, he hoped, prevent Russia
and Austria from continuing their
secret understanding, relative to
their common political views.
King Frederich Wilhelm embracing them.
The King of Prussia also came to pay
his respects. He had already
written to Alexander, excusing
himself for having yielded to
irresistible force and fatality.
“If war breaks out, we shall harm
each other only as much as is
strictly necessary, remembering
constantly that we are one, that we
must one day be allies again.”
INT. DRESDEN PALATIAL ROOM – DAY
Napoleon and the monarchs are seated at a large table.
Never was the success of an
expedition more certain. I see on
all sides nothing but probabilities
in my favor. For the first time, I
advance at the head of the combined
forces of France, Austria, Italy,
Germany, the Confederation of the
Rhine, and Poland.
He smiles at each ruler as their country is mentioned.
Let us hope that just the sight of
our preparations will cause
Alexander to yield.
That is my fervent hope. I love
Alexander, as a brother, and wish
him no harm.
If war should come, Alexander has
sworn he will not make peace under
any conditions, however many battles
he may lose, using the size of his
country, the poverty of the soil and
the rigors of the climate, to wear
I know he has said that, and I am
sure that he would like to believe
it’s true. But Russia is a semi-
Asiatic nation which cannot field an
army as large as your own, and has
no literature or music to speak of.
It is a barbarian nation, and
barbarians are superstitious and
have simple ideas. A single blow
delivered at the heart of the
Russian Empire, at Moscow the Great,
Moscow the Holy, will, in a single
instant, put this whole blind
apathetic mass into despair.
Napoleon pauses, thoughtfully.
I know Alexander. His imagination
must be struck by some great, bold,
powerful stroke, and he will come
back to me, just as he did at
EXT. BANK OF VISTULA RIVER – DAY
With his army of 400,000 men in
concealed bivouacs, on a ten mile
front, in the forests, bordering the
banks of the Vistula river, Napoleon
conducted a last minute personal
reconnaissance, disguised in the
uniform of a Polish lancer.
Napoleon rides along the river bank, accompanied by
Berthier, Murat, Duroc, Bessieres and Davout, all
The opposite bank of the river is silent and deserted.
The only sounds to be heard are those of the river and of
Suddenly, Napoleon’s horse stumbles and falls. Napoleon
is stunned and helped to his feet by his concerned
Well, this is an ill-omen, indeed.
Caesar would probably turn back.
There is uneasy laughter.
EXT. FLAT RUSSIAN COUNTRYSIDE – DAY
Impressive shot of the Grand Army on the march. Maximum
The campaign of 1812 was the first
time in which Napoleon had a marked
superiority of numbers, but in
accumulating such a mass of uneven
quality, he would defeat his object,
which was to bring about another
Austerlitz or Friedland.
EXT. FLAT RUSSIAN COUNTRYSIDE – DAY
Russian army retreating in good order.
The disparity of numbers left the
Russians no option but to avoid
battle and repeatedly disengage,
however much political pressure
developed for them to stand and
EXT. RUSSIAN VILLAGE – DAY
Russian rear guard cavalry setting light to the deserted
Alexander gave orders that his
retiring army should blow up bridges
behind them, destroy the cities and
villages, remove all the necessities
of life, and leave behind them,
nothing but a desert waste.
EXT. HILL – DAY
Although the Russians refused any
major encounters, there was fierce
fighting between the French advance
guard and the Russian rear guard.
Concealed in some trees, the Russian rear guard cavalry
occupies a height, above a village occupied by the French
advance guard infantry.
Fifty French grenadiers, part of the advance guard,
ascends the hill, unaware of the enemy cavalry waiting for
When the French infantry are half way up the hill, the
Russian cuirassiers and cossacks gallop down the hill and
surround the grenadiers, who immediately form into a
square. It is no contest. 200 cavalry against 50
infantry, with no help in sight.
The Russian officer commanding the cavalry rides up to
them, demanding their surrender. The officer, in command
of the French, answers by killing him with a pistol shot.
Upon this, the Russian cavalry, inexplicably, leave the
field, allowing the French to withdraw.
Showing progress of the Grand Army’s march through Russia
during the summer of 1812.
Narration to explain situation.
The Tsar’s scorched earth strategy
was in line with the views of some
of the more enlightened Russian
strategists, but the army and the
people were full of reckless
confidence and impatience for
battle, and the long retreat to
Moscow filled them with bitterness
and a sense of feebleness and
incompetence at the top.
INT. ROSTOPCHIN’S SALON – NIGHT
As Napoleon approached Moscow, the
court of St. Petersburg was in
despair, and the Tsar, his resolve
shaken, was ready to sue for peace.
Now, the intervention of one man,
Count Feodor Vasilievitch
Rostopchin, the Governor of Moscow,
would have a decisive effect on the
course of history.
Rostopchin is a steady man, a good husband and father — a
man of gentle and attractive manners, with a superior and
cultivated mind. Present are the head of the secret
police, and eleven senior Moscow officials. The doors are
locked, the shades are down and the men speak in low
My friends, I have it now on
excellent authority that the French
will enter Moscow within a few days.
Kutusov still swears he will fight
to the death, but I have learned, on
excellent authority, he has plans to
surrender the city without a
struggle. Our empire is almost
overthrown. The court of St.
Petersburg trembles, and will begin
peace negotiations as soon as
Napoleon enters the Kremlin. One
can only imagine what will be lost.
My friends, we are living in a time
when men of conviction must be
prepared to influence the nation
even without the approval of their
sovereign. They must dare to
evaluate the public and private
interests which they may be called
upon a sacrifice.
He looks around the group.
The flames of our beloved Moscow
will erect a barrier of fire between
the Tsar and all weakness, and they
will rob from Napoleon the end and
the aim of his campaign.
Is there anyone who wishes to
Very well — there is a great deal
to be organized.
EXT. HILL OVERLOOKING MOSCOW – DAY
Napoleon standing on the summit of Sparrow Hill, looking
at the glittering domes and minarets of Moscow, in the
distance. Moscow is lordly and striking, with the
steeples of its 30 churches, and its copper domes
glittering in the sun; its palaces of eastern architecture
mingled with trees and surrounded with gardens; and its
Kremlin, a huge triangular mass of towers, something
between a palace and a castle.
But not a chimney sends up smoke, not a man appears on the
battlements or at the gates. All is silence. His
marshals are gathered around him.
It was all very well for Alexander
to do more damage to his country
than I could possibly do, but he
could not destroy Moscow. This is
the prize that will end the war.
You will see, we will have peace
offerings from him within a few
EXT. MOSCOW STREET – DAY
A French cavalry patrol finds Moscow a ghost-town,
deserted, lifeless, a city of the dead, except for the
eerie echo of their horses’ hoofs.
Behind them, a column of a 100 infantry march, led by a
drummer and a drum-major.
Suddenly, a wild-looking man, with long grey hair down to
his shoulders, and a thick white beard, armed with a
pitchfork, rushes out of an alley and into the path of the
He is such an incredible sight, the men laugh at him.
Hello, grandfather. Are you the
only welcome we shall have today?
The old man suddenly attacks the drum-major with the
pitchfork, which the unfortunate man takes full in the
belly, letting out a horrible scream.
Several soldiers rush up to the old man and drag him off.
An officer shouts to bayonet him.
A soldier stabs at him but finds his bayonet will not
penetrate the man’s thick sheepskin coat. Several others
have the same result.
The officer rides up and, without further ado, shoot him
with his pistol, accidentally wounding a French soldier in
INT. KREMLIN BEDROOM – NIGHT
Napoleon is sleeping heavily. Duroc and Caulaincourt
stand over him, gently trying to wake him.
What do you want?
Napoleon immediately becomes aware of the strange light in
the room, leaps out of bed and rushes to the window. The
entire city seems to be in flames.
My God…! What time is it?
My God, what a fire!
They stand in silence.
When did it start?
The first reports came in at about
Why didn’t you wake me then?
At first, it hardly seemed more than
a routine fire.
How did it spread so quickly?
It is the work of incendiaries.
I told Mortier that he would answer
with his life for any looting.
Our troops have no part in this. It
has been started by the Russians!
Impossible, I don’t believe it.
We have already captured a dozen
incendiaries, convicts, released
just two days ago. They said they
were acting under orders of the
But to start a fire like this in
five hours — how is it possible?
It would take a carefully organized
plan, tons of combustibles and
hundreds of people.
From what we can tell, there are
hundreds of agents, all over the
city. The combustibles seem to have
been carefully placed beforehand,
and all the fire-engines have been
removed from the city.
My God — this could be very bad for
us… very bad, indeed.
EXT. MOSCOW STREET – NIGHT
Fires are started by wild-looking men and women in rags,
wandering about in the flames. An official of the secret
police gives orders and carefully writes something in a
EXT. MOSCOW STREET – NIGHT
Three Russians, one of whom is armed with a lance, the
second with a sword, the third a lighted torch, are
setting fire to a house.
A party of 5, unarmed, French soldiers, dragging a cart
containing loot, surprises them.
The Russian with the lance puts himself in a position of
defense. The others simply ignore the French and continue
about their work.
One of the Frenchmen grabs a long pole from a smoldering
carriage, using it as a quarterstaff, and attacks the man
armed with the lance; he quickly breaks both his legs and
the Russian falls with a terrible cry of pain. The
Frenchman strikes him on the head killing him.
The other two Russians run away.
EXT. MOSCOW STREET – DAY
Some French soldiers making jam fritters in the
smoldering ruins of a bakery while the fire rages at the
other end of the street, and furniture, sliding down from
collapsing floors, crashes to the pavement.
INT. BEDROOM ST. PETERSBURG PALACE – NIGHT
Alexander is in bed with a heavy cold, and in a foul mood.
I hope you will forgive me, Your
Majesty, for requesting an audience
at such a late hour, but I have
traveled all the way from Moscow to
see you, on a matter which cannot
Very well, General, what is it you
wish to say?
Your Majesty, I have been advised
that you have received a letter from
Napoleon, offering a peace treaty,
and that you have decided to accept
I have decided to accept the
principle of a negotiation; the
terms are not established.
If I may, Your Majesty, I would like
to offer a dissenting opinion.
General Kutusov, feel free to say
whatever you like.
I believe I am right in saying that,
before the fire, the country had
grown weary of the war, and there
were few who were interested in
continuing the battle.
But, since the fire, a completely
new spirit has been aroused in the
nation. The French have become an
army of criminals, against whom
Russia must be avenged, against whom
she is now prepared to fight to the
You know, General Kutusov, there is
a very strong possibility that the
fire was not started by Napoleon’s
troops but was organized under the
orders of Rostopchin’s secret
I have heard that story but I do not
Rostopchin is a fanatic and he is
capable of anything — however, it
doesn’t affect what we are talking
about. Please go on.
The point I was trying to make is
that I think it is reasonable to say
that Your Majesty would not find
himself under unbearable pressure,
if he decided to make peace with the
Emperor, at least at this time.
For the sake of your argument, let
us say that is correct.
Well, has Your Majesty considered
what Napoleon’s alternatives might
be, if you simply chose to ignore
Yes, General Kutusov, I daresay that
this has been considered and
discussed at great length. Napoleon
would simply spend the winter in
Moscow and continue the campaign in
the spring. Another lesser
possibility might be to march on St.
Petersburg now, although there is
some doubt that he has the strength
to do this, until he refits his
You have my absolute assurance, Your
Majesty, that Napoleon does not have
the strength to attack St.
Petersburg now — his army is
exhausted and ill-supplied, and he
would be defeated if he attempted
I will accept your assurance, but
I’m afraid I don’t see your point.
Forgive me, Your Majesty, I am about
to make it.
Ah, yes — proceed.
The point is that I don’t think
Napoleon will sit in Moscow until
the spring! I don’t think he can
It would be a sensible decision if
he were merely commander of the
army, but he is also the Emperor of
France. Can he afford to stay away
from Paris for what will amount to a
year by the time he commences his
campaign again in the spring? And,
even if he might consider this, his
lines of communication are over-
stretched and vulnerable — they can
be easily cut by our cossacks. Will
he then be willing to remain,
completely out of touch with Paris
— for a year? The French are like
women. You cannot stay away from
them for too long.
The Tsar sneezes and blows his nose.
Well, that is a very interesting
idea, General Kutusov, but I can
assure you that Napoleon is no
beginner at this. Whatever analysis
you have done on this situation, I
am sure that he has gone over the
I have no doubt that he has, Your
Majesty, but does he have any strong
moves from which to choose?
Well, one thing immediately comes to
mind, if what you are saying is true
— he would merely withdraw his army
from Moscow and return to Poland for
Your Majesty has grasped the
outlines of his problem in much less
time than it took me. This is a
crucial point — and it is a
political one, which Your Majesty
will be in a far better position to
answer than I. Can Napoleon afford
to abandon Moscow without signing
even the preliminaries of a peace
treaty with you?
I must confess he would look a bit
silly, fighting his way to Moscow
and turning right around again.
Perhaps it would be even more
serious than that, Your Majesty.
His European confederation is held
together by some very slender
threads. Your Majesty knows even
better than I that Austria and
Prussia are very doubtful allies,
and the Emperor has reason enough to
fear that they will turn on him, at
the first sign of weakness.
If I can presume to go into the
Emperor’s mind, I believe that he
has based his entire campaign
strategy on obtaining a peace treaty
after the fall of Moscow. When
Vienna fell, there was a peace
treaty. When Berlin fell, another
treaty. That has always been the
rules of the game. But what is he
to do now if no treaty is forth-
coming? He knows that beyond
Moscow, there is nothing, and that,
if he withdraws, there remains only
a fall into emptiness.
Alexander is thoughtful.
What do you think Napoleon will do?
I, personally, am convinced that he
will withdraw his army from Moscow,
and attempt to establish himself in
Poland for the winter. In the end,
he will not allow himself to be cut
off from Paris. But I believe that
if he is offered any encouragement,
by Your Majesty, he will postpone
this decision as long as possible.
He is a gambler and he will trust to
If he withdraws his army in good
order, it will be a serious
political defeat. But, if he should
be caught on the move, with his
army, in the full grip of winter,
then it will be a catastrophe. If
Your Majesty can prolong his hopes
for a treaty by silence, be deceit,
by any means, for another month,
thus postponing his departure, then
the graves of his army are already
dug in the soil of Russia.
General Kutusov, I would like to
call a meeting of my cabinet
tomorrow morning and have you
present this idea to them. I think
it has merit and is worthy of
I am at your disposal, Your Majesty.
EXT. KREMLIN BALCONY – DAY
It is a fine, fall day. Napoleon and a small entourage
are having lunch outside on a balcony overlooking Moscow.
Day after day of fine autumn weather
was allowed to slip away, while
Napoleon waited for the word from
Alexander which would never come.
The weather was so fine and the
temperature so mild that it seemed
as if even the season was conspiring
to deceive Napoleon.
EXT. FIELD – DAY
Murat and his staff are exchanging gifts with the Cossack
officers and soldiers, who treat Murat with great respect.
Drinks, food and song: the mood is one of expansive
warmth, in the manner the Russians so easily generate.
His troops fraternized with the
enemy and reported them demoralized,
and tired of war.
EXT. KREMLIN COURTYARD – DAY
The mail carriage being unloaded in the Kremlin courtyard.
Twelve large trunks with Imperial markings are carried
Trunks, bearing dispatches and mail,
arrived regularly every day from
Paris. It seemed as easy to travel
from Paris to Moscow as from Paris
INT. KREMLIN SALON – NIGHT
A small theatrical performance for Napoleon and his inner
circle, performed in a Kremlin room, by a troupe of French
artists who were in Moscow at the time of the occupation.
They are playing a farce to polite laughter and applause.
Thus, lulled by events, and by
realities he could not face,
Napoleon seemed to fall into a dream
in Moscow, and, amid the dreadful
storm of men and element gathering
around him, he spent his time
discussing the merits of some new
verses which he had received, or the
regulations for the Comedie
Francaise in Paris which took him
three evenings to prepare.
INT. NAPOLEON’S KREMLIN BEDROOM – DAY
Napoleon, alone in his room in the Kremlin. Vacant,
Napoleon was extremely superstitious
and retained a mystical belief in
his partnership with fate, a sense
that he could only do so much, and
that events must somehow complete
the decision. And, so it would be
in Moscow, where, without confidence
and full of apprehension, he would
cheerlessly pursue his destiny,
unaware that fortune, which had so
often smiled upon him, had now
abandoned his cause just when he
required miracles of her.
EXT. ROAD – SNOW – DAY
The Russian advance guard cavalry moves through the debris
of the retreat scattered along the sides of the road —
dead men and horses, overturned wagons containing the
booty taken from Moscow, gold candlesticks, porcelain
vases, paintings, beautifully bound books, silverware,
It was not until October 20, that
Napoleon withdrew the Grand Army
from Moscow, to begin their thousand
mile march into oblivion.
EXT. SNOW – DAY
Napoleon on foot with his army.
He had waited too long. But the
execution of his army would not be
principally caused by cold or
battle, but be starvation.
EXT. RUSSIAN VILLAGE – SNOW
French foragers loading carts, protected by a hundred
Thirty Cossack horsemen watch from some woods, a few
hundred yards away.
In order to feed the army in the
barren and ravaged wasteland through
which it had to march, it was
necessary to send large foraging
parties deep into the surrounding
countryside, protected by strong
escorts of French cavalry, against
the clouds of Cossacks which flanked
and followed the march.
EXT. SNOW – DAY
A French trooper soothes and strokes his dying horse,
gives him a bit of sugar, then shoots him. The shot draws
attention of some ragged soldiers, who rush up for a meal
and are kept at bay by the trooper’s pistol.
But, by November 5, the temperature
was down to 30-degrees of frost, and
30,000 French horses were dead.
They were not bred to endure such
cold and, not being properly shod
for ice, had no chance to survive in
EXT. SNOW – DAY
The starving army stumbles along. Hundreds of Cossacks
flank the march, out of musket range, several hundred
yards off the road.
The cavalry was now on foot and it
was a simple matter for the hordes
of Cossack cavalry to confine the
retreating French to their single
road, thus transforming the finest
army the world had ever seen into a
starving, feverish mob, without
purpose. General Famine and General
Winter, rather than Russian bullets,
would conquer the French.
EXT. ROAD – SNOW – DAY
A French soldier, Picart, struggling along with a dog tied
to his back. His friend, Didier, comes up to him.
Hello there, Picart.
Ah, Didier — you are alive.
Why are you carrying the dog?
His paws are frozen and he cannot
When you eat him, may I have some?
My God — don’t you recognize Mouton
— our regimental dog? I would
rather eat Cossack.
Didier looks disappointed.
EXT. FROZEN FIELD – DAY
A dozen French soldiers around a small fire, cooking bits
of horse-flesh, and a saucepan full of blood, while four
or five others fire at a small party of Cossacks, keeping
them at a distance. The men who are cooking are utterly
unconcerned with the fighting.
EXT. RUSSIAN VILLAGE – NIGHT
A posting house is crammed full of officers and men and
Outside, others are banging on locked doors, trying to get
in, but they are refused, virtually condemning them to
death during the sub-zero night.
A man on the roof, trying to pull off a plank, draws shots
from the inside.
Suddenly, a fire breaks out inside and, because of the
horses and the way that the doors are nailed up, it
becomes an instant disaster. No one can get out.
The freezing men on the outside make a feeble effort to
open the doors but they have been effectively barricaded
from the inside.
The noise and the flames attract other men who have been
huddled in the open and, since they can do nothing, they
crowd as close as they can to the flames to warm
themselves, or cook bits of horse-flesh on the points of
TITLE: INVASION OF FRANCE
INT. TUILERIES – DAY
The Christmas tree is still up. Toys. Napoleon, on his
hands and knees, plays with his son. Marie-Louise watches
happily. An aide enters and whispers something, causing
Napoleon to get to his feet and excuse himself.
On January 1st, 1814, France itself
was invaded. Now, with a small army
of raw recruits, Napoleon would have
to face the powerful combination of
England, Russia, Prussia and
Austria, operating against him
together, for the first time. The
balance of numbers had tilted
irretrievably against him.
A year ago, the whole of Europe was
marching alongside of us. Today,
the whole of Europe is marching
EXT. FRENCH ROAD – DAY
Tsar Alexander on the move with his army.
EXT. FRENCH ROAD – DAY
French refugees, their belongings on carts. A few miles
to the rear, the smoke of a burning village.
EXT. FRENCH VILLAGE – NIGHT
Anxious French townspeople gather around a courier reading
EXT. FRENCH CITY – DAY
Deserters are arrested.
INT. NAPOLEON’S OFFICE TUILERIES – DAY
Napoleon spends his last afternoon burning private papers
and playing with his 3-year old son.
EXT. TUILERIES – DAY
Napoleon kisses Marie-Louise and son for the last time.
He will never see them again. Carriage and escort
EXT. FRENCH ROAD – DAY
Napoleon, at the head of his army, marching through the
wintry countryside to meet the invading allied army.
All around him, the sands were
giving way, but Napoleon struck back
with a brilliance which caused
Wellington, much later on, to
remark: “The study of the campaign
has given me a greater idea of his
genius than any other.” For two
months, Napoleon’s small army would
bedevil the jittery and
uncoordinated allied armies by rapid
marches and surprise attacks on
their flanks and rear.
INT. SALON – DAY
The negotiators’ meeting at Chatillon.
During much of the fighting, a peace
conference took place at Chatillon,
where both sides insincerely raised
and lowered their terms with the ebb
and flow of the fighting.
EXT. FIELD HQ – NIGHT
Napoleon asleep in his chair near a fire. The table in
front of him is covered with maps, papers. His marshals
and generals stand at a respectful distance.
Illuminating and illustrating the narration.
But despite the brilliance of his
tactics, Napoleon’s numbers dwindled
and, in desperation, he made a
daring and imaginative decision to
move eastward, placing himself in
the rear of the allied armies. This
would cut their long lines of
communication but, at the same time,
leave open the road to Paris.
Napoleon counted on Joseph
fulfilling his orders for the
defense of the city, so that, if the
allies took the bait and marched on
Paris, it would offer Napoleon an
opportunity for a decisive victory.
INT. TSAR HQ – NIGHT
Alexander reading the letter from Talleyrand.
But on March 10th, the Tsar received
a note from Talleyrand, revealing
the total lack of military
preparations in Paris.
EXT. FOREST – DAY
Russian cavalry patrol captures French courier on snowy,
On March 23rd, allied patrols
captured a courier carrying a letter
from Napoleon to Marie-Louise in
which he rashly revealed his plans.
Situation map showing Paris, Allies, Napoleon, strung out
in that order, and covering the narration.
Although Alexander realized it was
essential for Paris to surrender
within 24 hours, to avoid the allies
being trapped between the walls of
Paris and Napoleon’s forces which
might attack his rear, he chose to
gamble, persuading his generals to
ignore Napoleon and march on Paris.
This crucial decision would bring
down Napoleon’s empire.
EXT. ROAD – DAY
A snowy road near Fontainebleau — French troops
retreating. Napoleon’s carriage and escort gallop through
the troops to the head of the column and stop. Napoleon
climbs out and confronts General Belliard.
Well, Belliard, what’s this? What
are you doing here? Where is the
They are at the gates of Paris,
And where is the army?
It is on this road, sire, following
And who is defending Paris?
Paris is evacuated, sire. The enemy
is to enter at nine o’clock tomorrow
morning. The National Guard is on
duty at the gates.
Paris has surrendered?! I don’t
Unhappily, it is true, sire.
But where are my wife and son?
What’s become of them? Where is
Marmont? Where is Mortier?
The Empress, your son and the whole
court left two days ago for
Rambouillet. Marshals Mortier and
Marmont are probably still in Paris,
completing the arrangements.
Napoleon starts walking rapidly down the road, in the
direction of Paris. The party of senior officers scurry
Well, you’ve heard what Belliard
says, gentlemen — come, I am going
to Paris. Caulaincourt, have my
carriage brought up. Come, come,
Belliard, turn your men around.
But, Your Majesty, we cannot go to
Paris now. There are no troops left
No troops? The National Guard is
still there — they will follow me.
Things may yet be put right.
But, sire, Your Majesty would lay
Paris open to being sacked. The
enemy is outside the gates with more
than 120,000 men. Besides this, I
left the city under the terms of a
treaty and I am forbidden to reenter
A treaty? Don’t be ridiculous.
What treaty is this? Who made it?
Who has been giving orders?
I don’t know the details of the
treaty, sire, Marshal Mortier sent
me word of its having been agreed
to, and he said that I was to take
the army and make for Fontainebleau.
But who made this treaty?
I believe it was arranged by
Marshals Mortier and Marmont. I
must explain to you that we have had
no orders all day. Each marshal has
been keeping his own position.
Who sent my wife and son out of
I don’t know, sire.
And where is Joseph?
I don’t know what has happened to
What cowardice! What treason!
Joseph has ruined everything. How
could they all lose their heads.
They knew I was coming up fast.
Victory was just within grasp.
Come, come, turn your troops around,
But, sire, we mustn’t risk turning
Paris into another Moscow.
There seems little enough danger of
that. Come! Come! My carriage!
Another column of troops, withdrawing from Paris, comes
into sight. Suddenly, Napoleon stops, sits down by the
side of the road, and holds his head.
In defeat, Napoleon would be
punished by the Kings of Europe,
according to a standard which they
would not have applied to each other.
He might marry the niece of Marie
Antoinette, and call himself an
Emperor, but that did not make him
EXT. ELBA MAIN STREET – DAY
In a comic opera parody of former grandeur, Napoleon
marches in a pathetic procession, led by the governor, the
prefect and other city officials, cheered by the local
A band of twenty fiddlers — no brass, no percussion,
marches along playing the Elban national anthem.
A few hundred of his guards bring up the rear.
The treaty of Fontainebleau of April
11th, 1814, signed by the allies and
Napoleon, in return for his
abdication from the throne of
France, gave him the token
sovereignty of the tiny island of
Elba, with the title of Emperor, a
yearly income of 2 million francs,
an army of 700, and a navy of 3
ships. But in ten months time, even
this tiny stake would be sufficient
capital to bring this most reckless
of all gamblers back into the game
for a final, breathtaking spin of
EXT. MALMAISON GARDEN – NIGHT
A glittering garden party at Malmaison. Josephine and
Tsar Alexander. Present are: Frederich Wilhelm of
Prussia, Francis II of Austria, the Kings of Bavaria.
Alexander and Josephine off, walk alone. She wears a low-
After the solitude and semi-
banishment of the last four years,
Josephine found herself again at the
center of Paris society. There
would be a crush of crowned and
coroneted heads at Malmaison, led by
Tsar Alexander. But Josephine’s
final conquest would be pathetically
brief — in two weeks, she was to
die of pneumonia.
How delightful it must have been
this spot to Napoleon. Could he but
pass his life here with you, Madame,
he would have nothing to complain of
but the too rapid slide of time.
He loved Malmaison. I think it was
the only place he was ever happy and
Alexander inhales the fragrant night air.
The fall of a great man is a sad
sight to behold… He treated me
badly but, even in my religion did
not not forbid me to bear malice, I
would bear him none. I am a better
friend of his than he may know.
You were the only monarch for whom
he had both affection and respect.
It was I who secured the sovereignty
of Elba for him, at a time when
treachery and desertion of his own
followers left him at the mercy of
those who would have done much worse
I am certain you still hold his
affection and gratitude. I believe
he is only bitter about the
desertions to his cause of those who
were closest to him — most
particularly, the Marshals. He
thought that, by giving them titles
and making them rich, he would
ensure their loyalty — but in the
end, they thought only of saving
their titles and estates.
Alexander stops, takes her hands in his, moves very close
to her, and speaks in a whisper.
Madame, I hope you will allow me to
discuss a matter which I fear may be
distasteful to you at the present
time, but which, in fairness to
yourself and to your children, I
feel I must — and that is the
subject of your own properties and
Josephine is, of course, more than happy to discuss this.
Let me be as good a friend to you as
Napoleon ever was. If you will but
command me, I shall secure all that
is due to you and your children —
and even more, should you so desire.
He leans forward and kisses her.
EXT. ELBA BEACH – DAY
A sunny beach on the island of Elba. Napoleon is seated
at a folding table in front of a tent. He is talking with
General Bertrand. A few guards of the escort are visible
in the distance. Napoleon has not just heard the news but
has been talking about it for hours.
Josephine dead — how unbelievable!
How impossible it is to believe it.
She was always physically so strong
— she was never ill a day in her
It is a terrible shock.
The silences are punctuated by the sound of the gentle
But did she have the best doctors?
Wasn’t there any chance at all to
I don’t know, sire — she had the
Tsar’s personal physician.
She should have had Larrey or
Corvisart. They might have saved
her… But why didn’t anyone even
write to me? Can you believe that
no one even bothered to write to me?
Would you have believed that I
should read such news in a
newspaper? How incredible!
That is incredible.
Ah, my poor Josephine. She was the
most alluring, most glamorous
creature I have ever known — a
woman in every sense of the word,
and she had the kindest heart in the
world. She may have been a liar and
a spendthrift, but she had something
that was irresistible — she was a
women to her very fingertips… How
impossible it is to believe that she
I have never heard an unkind word
about her spoken.
I suppose I might blame her for
opening her house to the men most
responsible to my downfall, but how
can I? She was on her own again,
she had to look after her own
affairs, and how can one blame her
for having her head turned by the
attention of Kings?
She made me very unhappy when we
were first married, but when we are
young we become addicted to the pain
of love and, once having experienced
it, never want to be cured. For
afterwards, we dread the horrible
solitude of the heart, the emptiness
He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a bill.
Look at this — how incredible! My
last souvenir — a bill I received
just two weeks ago from her
couturier — 6,000 francs…!
Now I have lost everything that is
precious to me. My dearest wife has
been locked away by her father, and
my poor baby grows up without me.
INT. SCHONBRUNN BEDROOM – NIGHT
Marie-Louise and General Neipperg, a handsome and virile
man, with a patch over one eye, making love.
Marie-Louise would prove to be a
little more than a dull,
commonplace, sensual girl,
accustomed to obey the dictates of
her father, who easily dissuaded her
from joining Napoleon, and carefully
chose instead as her aide-de-camp,
the gallant and dashing General
Neipperg, who soon became her lover.
They would have two children
together before Napoleon’s death.
INT. SCHONBRUNN NURSERY – DAY
A grotesquely large nursery in Schonbrunn Palace, over-
filled with expensive toys. The King of Rome, now four
years old, sits alone on the floor, playing with some
soldiers. Two nursemaids sit at some distance from him,
near the window.
Napoleon would never see his son
again, and the child would grow up
in gilded isolation, melancholy,
ignored by his mother, in chronic
ill-health and haunted by the legend
of this father. He would die at the
age of 22.
INT. TUILERIES THRONE ROOM – DAY
Throne room of the Tuileries Palace. A large group of
marshals are swearing their loyalty to the King and
kissing his hand. We should see Berthier, Ney, Marmont,
When Louis XVIII returned to Paris
in 1814, he was as unknown in France
as an Egyptian Pharaoh. Marked by
clumsiness and disdain, he quickly
proved that the Bourbon dynasty had
learned nothing and forgotten
nothing. People said that he did
not return to the throne of his
ancestors but simply ascended the
throne of Bonaparte. By 1815, the
army and the people were ready to
rise against him and welcome the
return of Napoleon.
EXT. BEACH – DAY
Along shot of Napoleon walking with his mother. We are
too far away to hear what they are saying.
EXT. SHIP DECK – NIGHT
A cold, clear, brilliant moonlit night. Napoleon on the
deck, crowded with his troops who are writing
proclamations in long hand.
Napoleon set sail, from Elba, on
February 26th, 1815, with his small
force of 700 soldiers, while the
governor of the island, Sir Neil
Campbell, was away in Florence. He
put his soldiers to work writing out
his proclamations in long hand.
EXT. ROAD – DAY
A regiment of government troops bars the road and the
fields bordering it. Some 300 yards away, Napoleon’s
small army faces them.
An aide, of the general commanding the government troops,
gallops down the road, salutes and dismounts.
General Cannet presents his
compliments to the Emperor, and
requests that he lay down his arms
and surrender himself and his men.
Thank you, Colonel. Please present
my compliments to General Cannet,
and tell him that I shall come
presently and bring the answer
The aide salutes, remounts and rides back.
General Cannet speaks to his troops, riding slowly back
and forth on his horse.
Bonaparte is on his way to attempt
to illegally reestablish himself
over the legitimate government of
our King, Louis XVIII. It is our
responsibility, as loyal soldiers of
France, to prevent him from doing
this, by whatever means are
necessary. His force numbers less
than 700 men.
At this remark, voices are heard from the back ranks.
What about us — don’t we count?
Napoleon has mounted a horse and approaches the government
troops at a gallop. He reigns up about 10 yards from
their front ranks.
Hello, men of the 5th — do you
recognize your Emperor?
(from the crowd)
Mixed in with this, there are a considerable amount of
I recognize you — we are old
friends. I know you from Friedland
and Borodino. And, you there,
Sergeant Monestier, how are you?
More cheers from the ranks.
My good friends, I am told that
Marshal Ney has promised the King to
bring me back to Paris in an iron
cage. I have sent word to my old
friend, Marshal Ney, that he can
make that a wooden box, if he is
able to manage it, but I certainly
must refuse an iron cage — I’m not
as young as I used to be, and I
can’t accept such drafty
Laughter and cheers from the ranks.
Men of the 5th, your general has
invited me to surrender myself and
my men, but I come to make you an
offer — Men of the 5th, will you
There is a thunderous cheer from the ranks and the men
rush forward surrounding Napoleon. Some soldiers fling
themselves at his feet, kissing his coat and his hands.
Napoleon’s eyes fill with tears.
(to a grenadier)
I shall have to send a message to
Louis VXIII, in Paris, and tell him
not to send any more troops — I
have enough already.
INT. TUILERIES DINING ROOM – NIGHT
Napoleon dines alone at a large table. He picks at his
food in no special order — dessert, fish, soup, potatoes.
He is absorbed, reading a thick report.
After the dizzying magic of the
return, came a sense of
disenchantment — and some anxious
second thoughts. The allies had
quickly patched up the differences
that had divided them for almost a
year, at the Congress of Vienna, and
on which Napoleon had counted to
give him some breathing space. To
make matters worse, they refused to
have any diplomatic dealings,
declaring him a criminal beyond the
protection of the law.
His valet enters the room silently and crosses the long
room to the table.
Excuse me, Your Majesty.
(without looking up)
Madame Avrillon has arrived, sire.
Napoleon listlessly looks up from a spoon full of pudding.
Oh — where is she?
I have shown her to your bedroom,
Napoleon stirs his coffee and glances at his wrist watch.
Please ask her to get undressed, and
tell her I’ll be along as soon as I
He goes back to his report.
Illustrates the narration.
The allies were preparing to move on
the frontiers of France with more
than a million men. Strung along
the Belgian frontier was an army of
100,000 English and German troops,
under Wellington, separated by ten
miles from a force of 120,000
Prussian troops, under Blucher.
Napoleon calculated the huge Russian
and Austrian armies could not reach
his Eastern frontiers before July.
This gave him the opportunity to use
a favorite tactic and strike quickly
against Wellington and Blucher,
hoping to defeat them separately,
before they could unite their
forces. On June 16th, Blucher was
defeated at Ligny, and Wellington
was forced to retreat from Quatre
Bras, but neither victory was
decisive, nor were they followed up
as they should have been, due to
Napoleon becoming ill, and to
mistakes by his generals. But what
would prove disastrous for Napoleon,
was that he believed the Prussians
to be out of the battle for good,
and retreating away from Wellington,
whereas Blucher, still full of
fight, was marching north to join
EXT. BATTLEFIELD – DAY
The opposing French and British armies.
On the morning of June 18th,
Napoleon, with 74,000 men faced
Wellington with 67,000, on a
battlefield near the village of
Mount St. Jean, ten miles south of
Brussels. Confident that the
Prussians were out of action, or
contained by Grouchy’s pursuing
cavalry, Napoleon’s only fear was
that Wellington would retreat.
EXT. BRITISH POSITIONS – DAY
Wellington and entourage ride along ridge. Troops cheer.
But Wellington had decided to fight
it out, on Blucher’s assurance that
at least one Prussian corps would
reach him by mid-day. He had chosen
his favorite defensive position, on
a rise, where the reverse slopes
would shelter his infantry from
plunging artillery fire.
EXT. NAPOLEON HQ – DAY
Napoleon, surrounded by officers, bent over a map.
Napoleon was in no hurry to start
the battle and he waited until mid-
day to allow the ground to dry, so
that his heavy guns could get into
position. This was to prove to be a
crucial mistake. Had the battle
begun at day-break, Wellington
would probably have been defeated
before the Prussians intervened.
Shows position of both armies on the battlefield and
Napoleon’s plan of attack.
Napoleon ignored the warning of his
Peninsular war generals about the
fire-power of the English infantry,
and decided on a frontal attack on
the center, preceded by an attack on
the Hougoumont farmhouse, which
anchored the English right flank.
EXT. FRENCH ARTILLERY – DAY
EXT. HOUGOUMONT FARM – DAY
The farm is in the valley below the British positions.
French troops beaten back by the English in fierce
In the opening moves of the battle,
the French could not dislodge the
English from the Hougoumont farm.
EXT. TREE TOP OBSERVATION POST – DAY
Napoleon and his staff have their telescopes trained on
what appears as a cloud of dust, at a distance of some six
miles. The staff talk, somewhat absently, concentrating
on their telescopes.
I think it is only some dust
I though for a moment, then, that I
could just make out the color of
Yes — a bit of blue and red. I
thought so, too.
Let us hope it is Marshal Grouchy.
How far away do you make it?
I should say, five or six miles.
At least that.
I thought for a moment I could make
out the colors of Prussian uniforms.
What do you think?
All eyes stare with concern through their telescopes.
Napoleon puts his telescope down.
At 12:30 pm, the column approaching
on the right flank was identified as
Prussian. Napoleon could have
called off the battle at this point,
but the campaign would have been
lost, and he preferred the chance of
smashing Wellington before the
Prussians could arrive in strength.
EXT. ROAD – DAY
Marshal Grouchy at breakfast. Dismounted cavalry are
along the sides of the road, as far as the eye can see.
All ears are cocked, listening to the distant sound of
guns. Grouchy looks worried and uncertain.
Had Marshal Grouchy maintained
aggressive contact with the
retreating Prussians, they would
have been prevented from entering
the battle. Having failed to do
this, had he now marched his 34,000
men to the sound of the guns, he
would have increased Napoleon’s army
by fifty percent and would most
probably have ensured a French
victory. But this was not to be,
and Grouchy’s inadequacies would be
the ruin of Napoleon’s last battle.
Shows the battlefield, the Prussians coming up, and
Grouchy out of the battle.
With Grouchy’s force out of the
battle, and the Prussians moving
against his flank, Napoleon was in a
strategically compromised position,
but there was still time to achieve
a tactical triumph on the
battlefield before the Prussians
EXT. INN – DAY
Three quarters of a mile behind the battlefield. Napoleon
is seated in an arm-chair. Dry straw has been spread on
the ground around him. He sits with his head in his
hands. He is in pain. His staff waits fretfully at a
But Napoleon was painfully ill, and
spent most of the day three-quarters
of a mile behind the battle.
EXT. FRENCH RIDGE – DAY
Marshal Ney, mounted and surrounded by his staff, looks
through his telescope.
He left the tactical handling of the
battle entirely to Marshal Ney, who,
having deserted Napoleon the year
before at Fontainebleau, was the
only one of that group of Marshals
who had since then reconciled with
him. Berthier had committed suicide
when he heard of Napoleon’s return
from Elba, and Ney’s eleventh hour
switch of allegiance to Napoleon,
had left his soldier’s mind in a
clouded and uneasy state. He would
now make tactical blunder after
blunder, while gallantly rushing
around the battlefield like a young
EXT. BATTLEFIELD – DAY
French columns march up a slope to the British positions
on top. Suddenly, a wall of redcoats rise up from behind
the protection of the ridge and fires a devastating
volley. The French line wavers. A second line of
redcoats appears and fires another volley. The French
line breaks, and they begin to fall back.
At 1:30, Ney launched the first main
attack, when four densely massed
infantry columns, unsupported by
cavalry or horse artillery, were
repulsed with heavy loss.
EXT. BATTLEFIELD – DAY
Massed columns of French horsemen riding up the slope at a
slow canter, their helmets and breast-plates glittering
like a stormy wave of the sea, when it catches the
sunlight. They are riding stirrup, unhurried, confident,
At 3:30 pm, Ney misinterpreted
movements in the English line as
signs of a general retreat and, now,
blundered again, sending in the
cavalry alone, unsupported by
EXT. BRITISH ARTILLERY – DAY
EXT. BRITISH INFANTRY – DAY
EXT. BATTLEFIELD – DAY
Terrible losses of horses and men.
EXT. BRITISH SQUARES – DAY
An incredible stalemate has developed in the battle. Dead
men and horses are everywhere. But the British infantry,
in their defensive squares, hold their fire, and merely
exchange stares with the hundreds of French heavy cavalry
who prowl around them, at a distance of no more than
After two hours of savage fighting,
the British infantry had learned
that when the French cavalry were
close, the artillery stopped. And
they also realized that each time
they fired a volley, the cavalry
would try to break through them,
before they could reload. So they
A French colonel rides too close to one of the German
squares, his horse stumbles and he falls, dazed. Two
Brunswick soldiers dash out, take his purse, his watch and
his pistols, and then blows his brains out.
A cry of “shame” goes up from the nearby British square.
EXT. FRENCH RIDGE – DAY
Napoleon giving orders. Ney, covered with mud and
bloodstains, has become a wild-looking creature.
By 6 pm, Napoleon had entered into
the battle himself and was forced to
commit 14,000 men of his general
reserve to hold up Bulow’s
EXT. BATTLEFIELD – DAY
The Imperial Guard infantry being blasted by a wall of
British fire, they falter and retreat. The sound of
musket balls against the French breast-plates sound like a
hail-storm beating on windows.
At 7:30 pm, Napoleon released 5
battalions of the guard reserve for
Ney’s final assault. When this
failed, the French morale cracked.
EXT. BATTLEFIELD – DAY
British cavalry charge.
Wellington put in his cavalry, and
the French army broke in panic and
EXT. BATTLEFIELD – DAY
Ney, now a bloodspattered demon, trying to stop the
Come on — follow me and see how a
Marshal of France dies!
He charges into the battle.
But Ney would survive the battle to
be shot for treason by the returning
TITLE: ST. HELENA
EXT. DECK OF SHIP – DAY
Napoleon on the deck of the “Northumberland” looking at
the cliffs of St. Helena. He is depressed by the mass of
bare volcanic granite rising steeply out of the sea,
barely twenty-eight miles in circumference.
Napoleon escaped from France where
he might have met the same fate, and
surrendered to the English, hoping
for a congenial exile in Britain.
But he was sent as a prisoner to the
tiny island of St. Helena, in the
South Atlantic, a thousand miles
from the nearest land. He would
live out the last five years of his
life there, amid the petty squabbles
of his own entourage, and his
EXT. LONGWOOD HOUSE – DUSK
A gloomy sight, situated in a wild landscape.
His house was a hastily rebuilt
collection of buildings originally
constructed as cattle-sheds.
INT. LONGWOOD HOUSE – DAY
Napoleon dictating his memoirs to Count Bertrand, a large
map is spread on the floor. The room is overcrowded with
books and papers.
A rat is noticed and ignored.
His four constricted rooms were
infested with rats. His food and
wine, and opened mail were subjects
of continuous dispute.
EXT. BLUFF – DAY
Napoleon stares out at the grey Atlantic, watched by
several British soldiers.
His walks were so closely guarded
that he eventually gave them up
INT. SIR HUDSON LOWE’S OFFICE – DAY
Sir Hudson Lowe opens Napoleon’s mail.
His gaoler, Sir Hudson Lowe, was a
weak, narrow-minded, and petty man,
obsessed with the fear his prisoner
would escape, though a squadron of
ten ships, and a garrison of 3,000
men guarded the island.
INT. NAPOLEON’S BEDROOM – NIGHT
Napoleon, grey-faced and looking very ill, being examined
by a hearty English naval surgeon.
His final illness would, until the
very end, be dismissed by English
doctors as a diplomatic disease.
INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT
Count Bertrand, a figure of despair in the dimly-lit room,
keeps a lonely death-watch. Napoleon stirs.
Who is there?
I have just had the most vivid…
dream… about Josephine.
She was sitting there… and it was
as if I had last seen her only the
night before… She hadn’t changed
— she was still the same — still
completely devoted to me… and she
told me we were going to see each
other again and, never again, leave
each other… She has promised me.
Did you see her?
No, sire… I was asleep.
I wanted to kiss her, but she didn’t
want to kiss me… She slipped away,
the moment I wanted to take her in
EXT. GRAVE – DAY
The unmarked grave.
Napoleon died on May 5, 1821.
Hudson Lowe insisted the inscription
on the tomb should read “Napoleon
Bonaparte.” Montholon and Bertrand
refused anything but the Imperial
title — “Napoleon.” In the end, it
was left nameless.
INT. LETIZIA’S BEDROOM ROME – DAY
His mother, dressed in black, sits alone, a study of gloom
and lament. The shutters are closed and the semi-darkness
of the room is broken by bright slivers of sunlight.
The camera moves slowly away from Letizia, to an open
portmanteau. It is filled with very old children’s things
— faded toys, torn picture books, wooden soldiers and the
Teddy bear Napoleon slept with as a child.
November 22, 1968
1.3 minutes average per day.
150 days, allowing 10 days lost to travel.
July 1 – September 1, 1969
DAYS TYPE OF PRODUCTION COUNTRY
30 Battles and marches Yugoslavia
40 Location exteriors Yugoslavia
40 Location interiors Italy
30 Front projection Yugoslavia
10 Lost to travel
Fifteen sequences which will approximately average 12
minutes per sequence, giving 180 minutes finished length.
The four principle categories of cost which represent the
largest proportion of any spectacle film are:
1. Large numbers of extras.
2. Large numbers of military uniforms.
3. Large numbers of expensive sets.
4. Over-priced movie stars.
I intend that, for ‘Napoleon’, these four categories be
handled in a financially advantageous manner, which will
result in substantial savings to the budget, allowing the
film to be produced for a much lower cost than I had first
envisaged, without any loss of quality, size or substance.
The daily cost of a costumed extra in England is $19.20,
in Spain $14.28, in Italy $24 and France $24.30.
We have received bids from Romania to provide up to a
maximum of 30,000 troops at $2 per man, though it is
unlikely that we will ever exceed 15,000 men on the
We have also received a bid from Yugoslavia to provide up
to the same numbers at $5 per man. Both prices also apply
to lesser numbers.
I have personally met with representatives of both
countries and they are all extremely anxious to have an
important film made largely in their country.
They are also very, very interested in getting dollars,
and can give us very generous deals for their services and
man-power that they can pay for with their own currency,
and which have little relationship to the dollar
equivalent they receive. They have almost the same
freedom to trade, in this respect, as they would if they
were swapping monopoly money for dollars.
Effective guarantees of their performance on this, or any
other deal made with a Socialist country, can be obtained
through the Cyrus Eaton Organization, who have worked with
us in arranging the Romanian contact. They guaranteed
performance on the “Fixer,” filmed in Hungary, and
regularly preform this function for important business
deals of every type between East and West.
Both countries have offered to make military uniforms and
costumes for us at a very reasonable rate, about $40 for a
first-line military uniform, compared with about $200 for
a normal European costumier.
But, in this area, the most significant break-through has
come through a New York firm, who can produce a printed
uniform on a Dupont, fireproof, drip-dry, paper fabric,
which has a 300-pound breaking strength, even when wet,
for $1-$4 depending on the detailing.
We have done film tests on the $4 uniform and, from a
distance of 30 yards or further away, it looks marvelous.
Naturally, in a large crowd scene, these cheap uniforms
will be seen from a much further distance than 30 yards.
I should point out that renting uniforms for this film is
not a viable proposition, because the numbers available
are totally inadequate, and for a long, rough usage, it
is cheaper to make them.
Building and decorating a large number of Palatial sets
for Emperors and Kings would be a formidable expense
indeed, somewhere, I should say, between $3 – $6 million.
Fortunately, this will not be necessary to do. A number
of authentic Palaces and Villas of the period are
available for shooting in France and Italy. There is even
one in Sweden, built and decorated by Bernadotte and
Desiree. These locations can be rented for a daily fee of
between $350 – $750, and in most cases are completely
furnished, requiring only the most minor work on our part
In addition to this, I intend to exploit, to the fullest,
the Front Projection techniques I developed during the
production of ‘2001.’ I have several new ideas for
enhancing its usefulness and making operations even more
I think sufficient proof must now exist that over-priced
movie stars do little besides leaving an insufficient
amount of money to make the film properly, or cause an
unnecessarily high picture cost. A recent ‘Variety’
study, published during the past year, showed the domestic
grosses of the last four films by a group of top stars
were not sufficient to return even the star’s salary,
computed at a recoupment rate of 2.5 to 1.
On the other hand, films like ‘Dr. Zhivago’, ‘2001’, ‘The
Graduate’ and many others show that people go to see good
films that they enjoy, and that the main impetus of going
to the movies is word-of-mouth recommendations from
As was discussed in our first meetings about ‘Napoleon’,
my intention is to use great actors and new faces, and
more sensibly put emphasis on the power of the story, the
spectacle of the film, and my own ability to make a film
of more than routine interest.
I have not completed my casting survey, but I expect to
have this done shortly. I will then send you a list of
actors’ names, broken down by parts.
I would like to give you some idea, however, of my general
thinking about some of the more important characters in
Napoleon was 27 when he took command of the Army of Italy,
and 30 when he became First Consul. He was 35 when he was
proclaimed Emperor, 45 at Waterloo, and 51 when he died.
I want an actor between 30-35 who has the good looks of
the younger Napoleon and who can be aged and made-up for
the middle-aged Napoleon.
He should be able to convey the restless energy, the
ruthlessness, and the inflexible will of Bonaparte, but,
at the same time, the tremendous charm which every
contemporary memorist attributes to him.
Josephine should be five to six years older than Napoleon,
beautiful and elegant.
The most important supporting characters will probably be
Talleyrand and Fouche, and there are untold numbers of
actors who can play parts like these.
There are excellent younger parts for Napoleon’s aides,
staff officers, and Marshals: Junot, Marmont, Ney,
Berthier, Murat, Eugene, Caulaincourt. These parts should
be played with virile, fit, military types; again, there
is considerable choice.
Important younger women will be Maria Walewska, Hortense
Beauharnais, Marie-Louise and Napoleon’s sister, Pauline.
All of these women will be attractive and should lend
luster to the cast.
Napoleon’s mother is very important, and again a great
deal of choice exists.
Czar Alexander, Francis Joseph of Austria, Kutusov,
Wellington, Blucher, all of these represent important
PREPARATION THUS FAR
A great deal of preliminary preparation has already taken
place and I would like to briefly outline what this has
1. A picture file of approximately 15,000 Napoleonic
subjects has been collected, cataloged and indexed, on
IBM aperture cards. The retrieval system is based on
subject classification, but a special visual signaling
method allows cross indexing to any degree of complexity.
2. David Walker, who is a leading costume designer in
England, has been preparing research and making sketches.
Because of the very provocative, see-through dresses and
bare bosoms of the Directoire period, the film will have
some very notable costumes.
3. Military uniform prototypes of the different nations
involved have been manufactured and these will serve as
quality control comparisons in the subsequent mass
production of uniforms of all grades.
4. Extensive location research photography has taken
place in France and Italy, covering the possible interior
locations in which we might wish to work. A team is now
in Yugoslavia doing the same thing, and another team is
about to leave for Romania.
5. The services of Professor Felix Markham have been
engaged as principal historical advisor, and the rights to
his biography of Napoleon have been purchased.
Professor Markham has devoted some 30 years of work to the
period, and is one of the outstanding living Napoleonic
scholars writing in English.
The rights to his book also establish a known work on
which to legally base the screenplay, and should help to
avoid the usual claims from the endless number of people
who have written Napoleonic books.
6. A master biographical file on the principal 50
characters in the story has been prepared by graduate
history students of Oxford University. They have taken
the highlights of each person’s life, putting a single
event and its date on a single 3 x 5 index card. These
cards have all been integrated in a date order file with
special signals indicating the names of the characters.
The system allows you to instantly determine what any of
the 50 people were doing on any given date.
7. A library of approximately 500 Napoleonic books has
been set up, cataloged and indexed and is available for my
own use and anyone else on the production. These books
contain the key memoirs and the principal biographies
available in English.
8. A Production Designer and Art Director have been
engaged, as well as the necessary Production staff and
Location research staff.
9. Research has been done in locating an extremely fast
lens, which will cover a 70 mm format. This will allow
shooting to continue on exterior locations beyond the
normal hour where the light becomes photographically
Fast lenses are also vital in shooting interior locations
with only the natural daylight coming from the windows.
We have found an F.95 50 mm lens, made by the Perkin Elmer
Co. who specialize in making lenses for the Aero Space
Industry. This lens is two full stops faster than the
fastest lens presently available for 65 mm cameras and
should even allow interiors to be shot by candlelight.
Despite the extremely high speed of this lens, the
resolution is very good.
Research has also been carried out to find means of
increasing the speed of color film by special laboratory
A small laboratory which can be installed at the studio in
Borehamwood, can accomplish this. I believe that a
feasibility study on this subject is being done by the MGM
studio in Borehamwood. Personally, I am convinced it is
not only economically feasible for the studio to invest in
this, but there will also be very significant advantages
that go beyond the profit and loss statement of the lab,
because it will be capable of doing many other things,
particularly in the area of special effects, which are not
currently possible by using the conventional laboratory
facilities available in England.