A Napoleon Mini Series could be on the way. A HBO mini series based on a film script by Stanley Kubrick may come to fruition. This project is in the hands of two noteworthy film makers: Steve Spielberg and Baz Luhrmann. Steve Spielberg will produce the mini series and Baz Luhrmann is being courted to direct it. Nothing has been solidified yet. If it does happen, Napoleon will be based on the unproduced Kubrick film script and will be produced in conjunction with Kubrick’s estate.
On Kubrick’s Napoleon:
After the success of 2001, Kubrick planned a large-scale biographical film about Napoleon Bonaparte. He conducted research, read books about the French emperor, and wrote a preliminary screenplay which has since become available on the internet. With the help of assistants, he meticulously created a card catalog of the places and deeds of Napoleon’s inner circle during its operative years. Kubrick scouted locations, planning to film large portions of the film on location in France, in addition to the use of United Kingdom (U.K.) studios. The director was also going to film the battle scenes in Romania and had enlisted the support of the Romanian army; senior army officers had committed 40,000 soldiers and 10,000 cavalrymen to Kubrick’s film for the paper costume battle scenes.
In a conversation with the British Film Institute, Kubrick’s brother-in-law Jan Harlan stated that, at the time, the film was ready to enter the production stage and David Hemmings was Kubrick’s favored choice to play the character of Napoleon, while Audrey Hepburn was his preference for the role of Josephine. In notes that Kubrick wrote to his financial backers, preserved in the book The Kubrick Archives, Kubrick expresses uncertainty in regard to the progress of the Napoleon film and the final product; however, he also states that he expected to create “the best movie ever made.”
Napoleon was eventually canceled due to the prohibitive cost of location filming, the Western release of Sergei Bondarchuk’s epic film version of Leo Tolstoy’s novel War and Peace (1968), and the commercial failure of Bondarchuk’s Napoleon-themed film Waterloo (1970). A significant portion of Kubrick’s historical research would influence Barry Lyndon (1975), the storyline of which ends in 1789, approximately fifteen years prior to the commencement of the Napoleonic Wars.
As late as 1987, Kubrick stated that he had not given up on the project, mentioning that he had read almost 500 books on the historical figure and that he was convinced that a film worthy of the subject had not yet appeared.
Napoleon is a hot ticket right now. Rupert Sanders has been set to direct a theatrical version of Napoleon.
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