Napoleon (2023) | Transcript

An epic that details the checkered rise and fall of French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and his relentless journey to power through the prism of his addictive, volatile relationship with his wife, Josephine
Napoleon (2023)

Napoleon (2023), directed by the legendary Ridley Scott and starring Joaquin Phoenix as the titular emperor, paints a whirlwind portrait of ambition, war, and love. It dives into both the meteoric rise and the eventual fall of Napoleon Bonaparte, the French military leader who carved his name on the pages of history.

The film opens in the throes of the French Revolution, where a young and audacious Napoleon (Phoenix) navigates the turbulent political landscape. His genius for strategy and battlefield leadership catapults him to prominence, culminating in a glorious victory at the Siege of Toulon (1793).

Driven by an insatiable hunger for power and a burning desire to reshape Europe, Napoleon ruthlessly ascends the ranks, eventually crowning himself Emperor in 1804. His military campaigns across Europe bring him triumph after triumph, from the Battle of Austerlitz (1805) to the conquest of Prussia (1806).

Yet, amidst the glittering victories, the film delves into the shadows of Napoleon’s personal life. His tumultuous relationship with his first wife, Josephine (Vanessa Kirby), is plagued by infidelity and ultimately ends in divorce. His obsessive quest for an heir leads him to marry Marie Louise of Austria (Jessie Buckley), a political alliance rather than a love match.

Napoleon’s hubris, however, proves his undoing. The disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812 marks a turning point, as the harsh winter and fierce Russian resistance decimate his Grand Army. Defeats mount, culminating in his exile to the island of Elba in 1814.

But Napoleon is not one to surrender easily. In a daring escape, he returns to France and rallies his supporters in a final bid for power during the Hundred Days in 1815. His last stand comes at the Battle of Waterloo, where he faces the Duke of Wellington’s British-led army.

Defeated once more, Napoleon is banished to the remote island of Saint Helena, where he spends his final years reflecting on his triumphs and failures. The film closes with a poignant look at the Emperor’s legacy, leaving viewers to ponder the complexities of a man who redefined history, only to be consumed by his own ambition.

* * *


[guillotine falls]

[crowd cheering]

[breathes shakily]

[crowd shouting]

[guillotine falls]


[crowd shouting]

[breathing shakily]

[guillotine falls]

[fife and drum playing]


[horse hooves trotting]

[crowd jeering, clamoring]

Get back, you lot.

Get to the guillotine.

[jeering, clamoring continue]

[breathing shakily]





[laughing, cheering]

The scourge of France!


Terror is nothing more than justice.

[people clamoring]

Prompt, severe, inflexible.

It is therefore an emanation of virtue.

[clamoring continues]

Now, she was guilty of three charges against you: depletion of the national treasury, conspiracy against the internal and external security of state, and high treason for acting in the interests of the enemy.

Mercy for the villains?


Mercy for the innocent.

Mercy for the unfortunate.

[people cheering]

Mercy for humanity.


[revolutionary] An inescapable outcome of democracy’s connection in relation to the nation’s immediate demands at this moment…

The British navy have taken the port of Toulon.

Half the French fleet is trapped there.

If we lose those ships, the Republic will fall.

Lucky for us, there are only 2,000 English troops in Toulon.

But we are short of artillery and led by a general who was a court painter.

It is not necessary to recapture Toulon itself.

The town is not a town. The town is a port.

If the harbor’s untenable to the English fleet, the town must surrender.

My brother, Captain Bonaparte, as artillery officer, has organized heated shots against English ships.

He has proven his commitment to the Republic.

And how do you propose to take the harbor?

Capture the fort that dominates the harbor, and you have the city.

We must make an example, or other cities will fall.

And I, for one, will never let the royalists or the English take my region.


[people cheering]

[horse whinnies]

[soldiers chattering]

[soldier] Morning, sir.

General Carteaux?

He’s over there.

[Napoleon] Lucien, my dear brother, I am in Toulon already.

The troops are in a poor state, and your conscripts untrained and undisciplined.

Without equipment and resources, I see only failure.

We are collecting scrap iron to recast small mortars more suitable for my plan.

If we do not succeed, those in power will only see us as Corsican ruffians unfit for higher office, and our mother’s ambitions will be quashed.

[peddler 1] That’s it, madam. Fine eye you have.

[peddler 2] There you go.

[peddler 3] I’ll still be here next week.

[people chattering]

[Napoleon] The British control the big guns that point out at their fleet offshore.

Take those guns, and we can fire onto them and end this blockade.

[soldiers chattering]

[Napoleon] Surprise is my advantage, but I will win by fire.

I cannot wait for your arrival.

Your brother, Napoleon.

[soldier] Oi, shit rag! Yes, you!

Move along now. Go on. Move!

Move them fucking goats!

Last chance! Fucking move them goats!

[soldier 2 shouting]

[soldier] You better fucking move them now!

Do you understand?

[French soldiers whispering, grunting]

[British soldiers singing, distant]

[French soldier 1 shushes]

[British soldiers] ♪ He sat himself down By the fire, my boys ♪

♪ To join in our jovial crew ♪

[French soldier 2] Get in position.

[French soldier 3] Quick, quick!

♪ By the chimney corner Was his own place ♪

♪ Where he could sit And dye his old face ♪

♪ When Jones’s ale was new, my boys ♪

Quick, quick!

♪ When Jones’s ale was new ♪

♪ Pints of beer and bottles of sherry To help them over the hill so merry ♪

♪ When Jones’s ale was new ♪

[breathing heavily]

[whispering indistinctly]


[whispering indistinctly]

[British soldiers singing “Drunken Sailor,” muffled]

[Napoleon] Fire!

[British soldier 1] We’re under attack!

[shouting, clamoring]

[British soldier 2] We’re under attack! Grab your weapons!

[French officer 1] Get those ladders up quick, men!

[breathes heavily, grunts]

[soldiers shouting]

[British officer] Fire! Hit your target!

[French officer 2] Get the mortars up there!


[horse whinnies]

Ready, boy? Ready, boy? Ready, boy?

[horse whinnies]

Oh, God! [grunts]



You all right?

I’m fine.

[panting, wheezing]

[soldiers shouting]


[both grunting]


[French officer 2] Get the mortars!

[soldiers clamoring, shouting]

[British officer 2] Protect the cannons!

Into position!

[wheezing, panting]

Vive la France!

[French soldier 1] Vive la France!

[shouting, clamoring]


[Napoleon wheezing, panting]

Ready the cannons!

[French soldier 2] Sir! Yes, sir.


[French officer 3] Elevation 160.



[Napoleon] Junot, heated shots!


Junot, fire!


[shouting, clamoring]

[Junot] Reload!

[French soldiers] Reload.


[Junot] Fire!

[French soldiers cheering]

[French officer] Shoulder, hold!

Captain Napoleon Bonaparte, I award you the rank of brigadier general.

Long live the Republic!

[soldiers] Long live the Republic!

Long live the Republic! Long live the Republic!

I promised you brilliant successes, and I’ve kept my word.

[French officer] Order, hold!


For Mother.

The current leadership of France has passed from enthusiasm to reckless ambition.

And the public perception of the guillotine is lawless passion, led by Robespierre.

He is unfit to rule.




[people clamoring]

[politician] France!

It has become increasingly clear, Citizen Robespierre, that your motivations are to use this blade to your ultimate power!

[people clamoring]

Let me speak!

There is no man in this room who has objected to my methods.

If you say I am guilty, you are all guilty!

[Barras] You are not a defender of freedom.

You have deemed yourself judge, jury and executioner, have you not?

You’re worse than Caesar! Worse than Caesar!

You are, all of you, the traitors!

Arrest him!




[citizen] Get him.


[onlookers gasp]



[people muttering]

[Robespierre breathing heavily, groaning]



You missed.

[Robespierre wheezes]

The guillotine, my friend.

[prisoners clamoring, cheering]

[audience laughing]

[puppeteer screaming]

[audience groans]

[audience applauding]

[musicians singing]

[audience laughing]

[Barras chuckles]





[singing continues]


[classical music playing]

[people chattering, laughing]

[croupier] A seven, madame.

[ball guest] Deal again.

Deal again.

[croupier] Your bet.

Seven again.

No. No win.

I’ll be out first. That’s mine.

Why are you staring at me?

Am I?


No, I was not.


Oh, you weren’t?

I was.

I was staring at… at your face.

What is this costume you have on?

This is my uniform.


I led the French victory at Toulon.


Do not tell me your name.


[clears throat]


[Napoleon] Mmm?

There is a very young man who wishes to see you.

His name is, uh, Eugène Beauharnais.



[clears throat]

[Junot] Citizen.

General Bonaparte.


My name is Eugène Beauharnais, son of Joséphine Beauharnais.

What do you want?

My father’s saber.

I-It was taken from him before he was arrested and executed.


I-It would mean a great deal to me and to my mother if it were returned to us.

It’s all we have of him.

The sword is a weapon.

I cannot allow citizens to have weapons in their possession.

The sword is a keepsake for me to remember my dear late father.

Perhaps, but it is a weapon nevertheless.

Young man, why are you here?

My mother said that you were the only man of authority to retrieve the sword.

All of these are from officers who were sentenced to die.

Did no one think to attach names to any of them?

No, there are no names.

[bell rings]

General Bonaparte?

Thank you.

Is there reason to introduce myself?

No, General.

[Napoleon] Good.

My compliments to the chef of this fine family.


Would you like to sit closer?



[Joséphine] Do I look like I’m in love?

Do you find him without appeal?


Then perhaps that is enough.

Do not underestimate your grace.





When you look at me, do you see an aristocrat?


My husband had more than one lover.

And when his head was cut off, all his mistresses watched.

When I was in prison, I was told the only way to survive was to get pregnant.

So, General…

do I need warn you of my indiscretions?

No, madame.

Does where I have been concern you?

No, madame.

If you look down, you’ll see a surprise.

And once you see it, you will always want it.

[crowd clamoring]

People of France, don’t be fooled. There are more of us!

[crowd cheers]

We can occupy this Convention!

Long live the king!

[all chanting] Long live the king! Long live the king!

[chanting continues]

[chanting continues]

No doubt you’ve seen the chaos in the streets.


There is a belief amongst the Committee that there is an attack on the Council coming by this mob.

I have less than 4,000 troops and very little in the way of weapons.

There are 40 cannons in Sablons. I could have them here in three hours.

This mob is 20,000 strong.


As my second-in-command, what would you intend to do if this assignment of defense was transferred to you?

I accept, on the condition that I command this as I see fit.

Without interruption.

I will not lead as second-in-command.

[soldiers shouting, clamoring]

Come on!

[chanting, shouting]




According to the law of 20th September, 1792, Marie-Josèphe-Rose Tascher, born 23rd June, 1767, in Martinique, accepts as her husband Napoleon Bonaparte, born February, 1768, in Ajaccio, Corsica.

Do you consent?


I do.

[court official] Do you consent?

Yes. I do.

I declare you united in marriage.


[Joséphine chuckling]

[guests] To the savior of the Republic!

[guest 1] And to Madam Bonaparte.

[guests] To Madam Bonaparte.

[guests chattering]

This guy right next to me? [continues indistinctly]

[Joséphine] Mmm.

[guest 2] He wants my saber.


Let that good work make us a son.


[sighs, inhales deeply]

[Napoleon] Dear Joséphine, I follow in the footsteps of Alexander the Great and Caesar, as I have been sent to liberate Egypt.

I have 40,000 men, and the sights are wondrous, and the weather is stifling hot.

I have already conquered Italy, who surrendered without conflict.

[Egyptian officer shouting]

[Napoleon] The Directory has approved my plan for attacking England through their eastern empire.

But my achievements seem slight, as they keep us apart.

[Egyptian soldiers chanting]



[horse whinnies]

[Napoleon] Dear wife,

This love I have for you is a kind of death.

There is no survival for me except in you.

Hello again.

[Napoleon] What are you doing?

No letters from you.

Good morning, Lucille.

[Napoleon] If you loved me, you’d write me twice a day.

Tell me there are no snakes in your bed, in your legs, inside what is mine.

You must write me and tell me that you realize that I love you beyond the limits of imagination, that only you can please me.

[indistinct shouting]

[soldier chuckles]

Are there limits to what I can tell you?

There shouldn’t be.

Should I tell you something at the risk of giving you personal pain?

Yes. [chuckles]

Your wife has taken a lover named Hippolyte Charles.


You expect me to believe this? [laughs]

Yes. [chuckles]

That my wife would do this to me? Mmm.


No dessert for you. You may leave.

I would never lie to you.

How do you know this?

Lucille is my lover. She writes to me.

Joséphine’s lady-in-waiting is your lover?

Prepare two frigates and two smaller vessels in the greatest secrecy.

I’m returning home.



This will be seen as desertion.

General Kléber will be informed of his succession in command after I’ve left.


[citizen] Napoleon the victorious!


[citizens cheering]

[carriage driver] Hyah, hyah, hyah!

Where’s my wife?

She has left to greet you in Lyon.

[dog yelps]

Do not lie to me. Where is my wife?

She left earlier today, General.


Yes, sir.

The entire world knows of my arrival, but not my wife?

[dog whining]

[thunder rumbling]

[groans, gasps]


[crying, breathing shakily]

[bell rings]

[dogs barking]

[thunder rumbling]

[Napoleon] What kind of creature are you?

How could you care so little for me and my feelings?


You are a selfish little pig.


Do you think so lowly of me?

No. I don’t.

Then why?

Because you’re what? Say it.

I’m sorry.

That’s not enough.


What do you… What do you want me to say?

I want you to say

that I am the most important thing in the world!

You are.

Say it!

You’re… You’re… You’re… You’re…

You’re the most important thing in my life, in the world. You a…

And without me, you are nothing.

I’m nothing.

And you will do anything!

I’ll do anything.

I’m not built like other men.

And I’m not subject to petty insecurity.

You’re a beast.

I feel sorry for you.

You want to be great?


You are nothing without me.

Say it.

Say it.

You are just a brute that is nothing without me.

I am just a brute that is nothing without you.


You are nothing without me or your mother.

[Napoleon breathing heavily]

My mother…


[Joséphine sighs]

Did you have affairs?

Of course I did.

And did you love them?

No. No, I did not.

Were they pretty?

Yes, some of them.

They served their purpose.

More than I do?

They cried less. That made them more attractive.

Don’t… Don’t leave me. Please, don’t leave me.

[whispering] Just don’t leave me.

You don’t have to forgive me. Just promise me you won’t leave again.

What is it that made you desert your troops in Egypt?


Citizens… what country are we in?

Because she doesn’t resemble the France that I left.

Who should be responsible for her governance while I’m away?

Because it is not you, Citizen Gohier.

It is not you.

It certainly is not you. Although you’re very good at scowling.

It is not you, Barras.

Or you, Talleyrand.

Or you, Sieyès.

So, who?

Who should be responsible? Fouché, do you have any ideas?



I have returned to France to find her bankrupt.

Printing money that is spent within hours, the Austro-Russian overrun of Italy, the Anglo-Russian occupation of Holland, and what appears to be the imminent invasion of France herself.

And yet, you accuse me of desertion.

Added to which the discovery that my wife is a slut.

The only thing that every French citizen can agree on is that you are our Caesar.

What do you want?



the people would accept my rule if I have your support.

Like you, though, I believe that the Directory is corrupt.

But together, we can save this country from a restoration of the monarchy, and we can preserve the ideals of the Revolution.

And I think that a seizure of power is possible with your help, at the right time.

And I think this is the right time.

So, you expect me to be your sword?


I expect that a coup d’état, well-timed, well-executed… could transfer power into the hands of three consuls: myself, Ducos… and you.


I’m inviting you to the winning side.



It’s a simple letter of resignation we would like you to…

I am not signing anything.

You can piss before I sign anything away!




[shouts] Who’s doing this?

Good morning, Paul.


I’m going to make this very simple for you.

I have documents announcing your resignation from the Council.

You must retire before you have your breakfast, please.

Tell them I return with joy to the ranks of simple citizen.

I shall.


There are some gentlemen here to see you.

Citizen Moulins, we have a letter of resignation for you to sign.

No, no, no. I am eating my breakfast.

[spouse] No.

I am enjoying a succulent breakfast.

This is outrageous! I shall finish my breakfast before you touch me!

[cries] No!

Enjoy your breakfast.


[Council member 1] Director!

I believe the time has come to demand an explanation.

[Council member 2] Hear, hear!


Uh, thi-this emergency session is to draw a list of nominations for a… a new Directory to deal with the threat…

[members clamoring]

…the threat of the royalists.

We are being asked to pass a resolution forming a provisional government to three councils: General Bonaparte and Citizen Sieyès and Roger Ducos.

Where are the five members of the Directory?

[members clamoring]

[Council member 1] Have they magically disappeared?

[Council member 3 chuckles]

And we are here, surrounded by troops, isolated far from Paris.


Order! Order!

[Council member 1] This is becoming increasingly clear: that your brother, Napoleon Bonaparte, with his show of military might, is acting as an outlaw.

[members clamoring]

[Lucien] I vow to solve this matter.

[Council member 1] And that this is a ridiculous and poorly executed takeover.

A power-hungry upstart.

[members shouting]

[Napoleon] Enough! Enough!

If there is any question of what is happening here, I will answer!

How dare you!

This is… You have violated the constitution!

You have…

[Council member 4] Hold him!

[Council member 5] Get him!


[all clamoring]

Arrest him!

Stop him!


Oh, fuck!

[Council members shouting]


[Council member 6] Kill him!

[grunts, panting]

[guards straining]


Let me through!

Right. [pants]

We are being terrorized by deputies armed with daggers!

And these madmen have outlawed themselves by their attempt on the liberty of this country!

They’re trying to kill me!

They’re trying to kill him.

[Council member 7] Open these doors!


[Lucien grunts]

[Council member 3] Let us out of here!

I will kill my brother if he betrays the freedom of the French people!

Get in there now!

[Lucien] Fuck.

[guards shouting]

[guard 1] Move, move. Get back. Back.

[guard 2] Move it. Move it!

[guard 3] Back. Move back.

[guard 4] Move back. Out of the way.

[guard 5] Move, move. Backwards.

[Council members gasping]

Good luck, brother.

[Napoleon panting]

Stand aside.

Shall we vote?

Where are we going?

[people cheering]

All our harsh words are behind us.

I need you to be my most tender friend.

Over this door is our destiny.

[cheering continues]

[French officer] Present arms!

[aristocrat] First Consul.

My lord.


[inhales sharply]

Citizen Bonaparte.

Citizen Bonaparte.

First Consul.

Citizen Bonaparte.

First Consul.

Come, little one.

You get into the bed of your master’s.


[aristocrats chattering]

Hello, madame!

Hello, good evening.

Mother, the Duke of Avignon.

It’s good to meet you.

Ah. Could this be Joséphine?

Mother, Joséphine. Joséphine, Mother.

[Letizia] Good to see you.

Oh, it’s Charles.

This way.

[scribe] “Your Majesty, England and France are wasting their prosperity.”

Let me try again.

Your Royal Majesty, England and France…

[clears throat]

…are wasting their prosperity…

Your… Your Majesty.

What did I say?

[stammers] “Your… Your… Your Royal Majesty.”

“Your Royal Ma”… [inhales deeply]

Your Majesty, England and France are wasting their prosperity.

I am not ashamed to take the initiative.

I have, I think, sufficiently proven to the whole world that I do not fear the chances of war.

But peace is my heartfelt wish for England and France.

Read it back to me.

I have notified all foreign powers of your accession to the Consul, I have addressed letters to all diplomatic agents abroad,

and I understand that you have made friendly overtures of peace to England.


What I need from you is a better understanding of the Russian Tsar Alexander.

Would you consider the tsar an ally to England or France?

Well, I would think that his trade with England is more beneficial to him than his trade with France.

And do you have a sense of British influence in the Russian courts?

[Caulaincourt] I do not, but I imagine it is quite robust.


What kind of man is he? Describe him.

Well, he’s young. [sighs]

He’s vain.


He’s popular, and he wishes to remain so.

He’s popular?


His greatest fear is to be killed in his bed, like his father.


This makes him dangerously fickle to whoever last has his attention.

So he needs an ally that he can also call a friend.

No more bets.

What a surprise.

How nice to see you out.

Excuse me, gentlemen.

Good evening. I’m just trying to lose some money.

Ah. Well, after this hand, why don’t you come and join me?

I’m at my usual table.

That’s a lovely idea.

Good evening.

Mmm. Did you hear?

Your Majesty received a letter of peace from the First Consul today.

Monsieur Talleyrand, if I may be honest?

Of course.

Austria’s coalition with England is in such a strong position against France, that these peace overtures are clearly only for your handling of French public opinion.

[chuckles] Oh, my friend.

You know me so well.

[diplomat chuckles]

Yes, it is true. It is public opinion Napoleon is after.

But my warning to you is that he’s as hungry for it as any man in the history of the world.

So my suggestion, with respect, would be to take this little offering of peace from him…

or suffer the consequences from a man bent on peace at any cost.

The English ambassador, Lord Whitworth, has arrived, Consul.

Do not look at me as if you don’t know what I’m about to say.

Are you aware of my letter of peace to your king?

I am not.

Shall I repeat it?

[inhales deeply] No, you may not. [sighs]

Take this as a warning to your king.

I will keep you guessing and scared.

You will watch your borders and your back, and your manners are bound, sooner or later, to be French.

I will offer no more letters of peace, and I will take the lack of a swift reply as an act of disrespect!

You think you’re so great because you have boats!

‘Tis a shame such a great man should have no manners.


Are you pleased?

Are you about to tell me something that will make me angry?

Let’s hope not.

The European families think nothing more of you than a Corsican thug.



I’m going to suggest something that’s been a long time arriving.

I suggest that you abandon your role as First Consul of France in exchange for the title “Victorious Consul.”

By another name, “king.”



[scoffs] “King.”

Uh, yes, king.





My hair has been set.

[murmuring continues]

The way you like it.


[scoffs] Oh, you filthy man.

My hair has been set now.

[murmuring continues]

I have the most beautiful wife.


I… All right, come on then.

Hat off.



Give me your hand. Give me your hand.

You feel that?

[sighs] What?

Can you feel that?

That’s yours. That’s yours.

[breathing heavily]

It’s yours.

Thank you.

[grunts, breathing heavily]

[chuckles] Oh.

[Napoleon] Mmm.

Oh. [chuckles] Stop.

Why aren’t you pregnant?

Is that a question, or is that an accusation?

[Napoleon] Mmm.


It was a question.

[grunts, chuckles]

Now it’s an accusation.

Well, I’ve seen Dr. Corvisart, and he has no answer.

Only that I do what Madame de Rémusat has done.

[Napoleon] Which is?

[sighs] Which is… along with hopeful thinking and a bit of red wine, he suggested I take the waters at Aix-la-Chapelle.

And why haven’t you?

As wife of the First Consul, I haven’t found the time.

I spend many hours cleaning up after you.

Find the time.

[inhales sharply] I don’t need to explain to you the importance of this, do I?

What, you want an heir?

I want one now.

[smacking lips]


[Napoleon growling]

[growling continues]


Oh, my God. [gasps, chuckles]



[choir singing in Latin]

[song ends]

May God affirm you on his throne, and Christ give you to rule with him in his eternal kingdom.

[attendees gasping]

I found the crown of France in the gutter.

I picked it up with the tip of my sword and cleaned it… and place it atop my own head.

[attendees murmuring]

The most glorious, the most august Napoleon, emperor of the French, is crowned and enthroned!

Long live the emperor!

[all] Long live the emperor!

Long live the emperor!

[choir singing in Latin]


[Napoleon] I do not support this idea.

You suggest divorce after years of debate.

You can see that it has me divided.

[Talleyrand] Mmm.


I am not ambitious.

I’ve never declared war with anyone.


You are the greatest leader in the history of the world and the world’s only chance at peace.

The security of the empire and peace in the world depends upon an heir.


[dinner guests chattering]

[Joséphine] It was an option. [chuckles]

And I said it at the time.

[Napoleon] Are you enjoying yourself?

I’m going to war to defend our people, and my wife cannot provide me an heir.

If you do not bear me a child tonight, there will be a divorce.

Hasn’t been enough lovemaking in this home to bear a child.

Yes, there has.

[Joséphine sighs]

There have been years of it. Years.

And with more than just me.

[inhales deeply] Oh.

And still you are empty.

And you’re fat.

I enjoy my meals. I do.

Destiny has brought me here.

Destiny has brought me this lamb chop.




Come then.




I love your talents and your taste.

And while I’m away, I will miss your grace.


And your dignity.

And I will come back to you.


[horse whinnying]

[Austrian soldiers chattering]

[Austrian soldier shouts]

[Austrian soldier shouts]

To today’s victory. Hmm?

Look, I’m always here for you, Francis.

But I must admit, I’m overwhelmed with the excitement of the battlefield.

I should not deceive you, Alexander.

This battle against him will be brutal and terrifying.


[French soldiers shouting]


[soldiers grunting]

[officer] Come on!

Get in defensive position!

[Napoleon] My good wife, Joséphine.

My God, it’s cold here. I miss your warmth.

On this day, we celebrate the first anniversary of our coronation.

My previous ally has now joined with my enemy.

The Russian Tsar Alexander joined forces with the prince of Austria.

I have heard that he’s been studying the art of war and trying to emulate my battle tactics.

More fires.

He tries to copy me, but he is a little boy who will make a terrible mistake.

I am certain I will bring the laurels of another glorious victory to my army today.

Yours, Napoleon.


[French soldiers cheering]

Hey, tie it from the back. Peg that corner to the ground.

That’s it.

[French soldier shivering]

Fuck. [inhales shakily]

[Russian soldier speaking Russian]

[horse blusters]

[speaking Russian]

[breathing heavily]

Your Majesty.


We are discovered.


Tell the men to rest.


[Russian soldier speaking Russian]


Infantry sighted.




Stand to!

[officer 1] Stand to!

[officer 2] Stand to!

Stand to!

Stand to.

[officer 3] Wake up, men. Get ready!

[soldiers] Stand to!

[officer 4] Come on, get up!


[cavalry approaching]

[breathing shakily]

[Austrian soldier shouting]

Wait, wait.

[officer 5] Ready!

Wait! Let them think they have the higher ground.

[cavalry approaching]

[Austrian soldier 1 shouting]

[Austrian soldier 2 shouting]

[all shouting]

[French soldier 1] Fire!

Fire away!

[French soldier 2] Fire at will!

[all shouting]

Send in the infantry.

Take their position on the higher ground. At the double.

[French soldier 3] Take the ground!

[all shouting]


Cavalry from the west. Pierce their flanks.

Retreat! Withdraw!

[Austrian soldier 3] Withdraw!

[Austrian soldier 4] It’s a trap!


[horses whinnying]




[Napoleon] Uncover the cannons.

[French officer] Cannons!

[Napoleon] Fire!

[French soldiers] Fire!

[French soldier 4] Reloading!



[French soldier 5] Keep to the one side.

[Austrian general 1] Off the ice!



[grunting, screams]

[grunting, groaning]

Renounce, sir. We’re pinned in.

Off the ice! Withdraw!

Cut off their retreat.

Hyah, hyah, hyah!

Hyah, hyah, hyah!



Francis. So nice to finally meet you.

Please come in where it’s warm.

Thank you.

You must forgive me.

This has been my only palace for the last two months.

Seems very agreeable. You make excellent use of it.

Well, we do what we can on the battlefield.

Yes, we do, don’t we?


It’s nice to finally meet another emperor.

Uh, where, may I ask, is Alexander?

Are we waiting for his arrival before we get started?

I do not believe he will be joining us.

He’s beside himself with rage.


I realize I must compliment you for making me commit an enormous error.

An error?

[Napoleon] Yes.

What error have you made?

To be speaking with you here and accepting this invitation for peace, I have not followed up my victory.

I could have taken the whole Russian and Austrian army prisoners.


But after all, there will be less tears.

And I know you will remember this gesture of kindness. Yes?

Thank you. [sighs]


To friendship, a glorious peace and the best interest of Europe.

Mmm. Burgundy.

[classical music playing]

[chattering, laughing]

[dog whines]

[whines] Hold on.


Hey, whoa, whoa!


Whoa, we don’t say woof.

Okay. [babbles]

That’s my boy. Attaboy.

Come here. Come here. Sit, sit, sit. [babbling]

[dog barks]


It is time to put this mystery to rest, Emperor.

I want to know if it’s you or Joséphine.

And to that end, we will conduct a very practical experiment.

At the end of the hallway… Take this…

Waiting for you, undressed, ready to receive, is 18-year-old Eléonore Denuelle de La Plaigne.

She’s brunette with brown eyes.

And the object of this, well, hardly unpleasant task is to see if you can father a child.

And then we will have an answer…


To this nagging question of who is keeping who from an heir to the throne of France.


Shall we go?

May I have another, please?

[chattering, laughing]

The girl is pregnant.

You made her pregnant. [chuckles]

[Napoleon] Mm-hmm.

[chattering, laughing]

Uh, I know I didn’t see her.

[speaking indistinctly]

When are you going to insist we divorce?

Oh, isn’t that wonderful?

From the only woman that I’ve ever loved and given all that I’ve conquered.

I’m just too tired to wait for you to tell me what I know is coming.

If you insist.

[sighs] I’ll make it easy for you.

[sighs] I know you will have a bastard child.

If I succeed in making the birth of a boy that I shall call my own son, I want you as a witness to pretend the confinement of the empress.

[stammers] Your Highness, you are asking me to lie about the status of the mother of your heir.

That is another way of putting it, yes.


Emperor… [sighs] …it is my honor and my duty, of course, to do as you require of me.

But if asked, I cannot contain that which I know to be the truth.

And painful though it is, the truth is that the empress is no longer capable of bearing you a child.

My good Joséphine. [sighs]


You know how I’ve loved you.

It is you, to you alone, that I owe the few moments of happiness I have known in this world.


My destiny is more powerful than my will.

And my affections must yield to the interests of my people.


The imperial decree for the dissolution of the marriage between the Emperor Napoleon and the Empress Joséphine.


“My people desire that this throne, where providence has placed me, would be given to my children. However, I have lost hope of having children from my marriage to my beloved wife, Empress Joséphine. I have then been led to listen only to the good of the state and to want the dissolution of years of my life.”

[Josephine chuckles]


You have embellished my life for 15 years.

The memories of which will remain forever etched in my heart.



“Our marriage has become an obstacle for the prosperity of France.” [chuckles]

“She has been deprived of one day being governed by the descendants of the man brought to us by providence to mend the evils of a terrible revolution and restore faith, the throne and the social order.”


[stammers, coughs]

Emperor. Wait.

Go. No, listen, listen. All right?

This is for your country. That’s what this is, all right?


Now say it.

Say it.

“Our marriage has become an obstacle for the prosperity of France. Agreeing to the dissolution of our marriage, as I must, does not change my feelings. The emperor will have in me a-always his… his truest friend.”

[Napoleon breathes shakily]


[Joséphine] Emperor, you have just pronounced the word which separates us forever.

Your mistaken ambition has ever been and will continue to be the guide of all your actions.

Nevertheless, you can never doubt the sincerity of my wishes for your happiness.

May it at least afford me some consolation for my sufferings.

Yours, Joséphine.

Thank you.

Good morning, madame.

Thank you. What’s your name?


Fleur. Pleasure.


I miss you.

Marital life is very agreeable now.

You’ve shown such great courage so far.


You must maintain it.

Do not permit yourself to fall into melancholy.

You look best when you’re happy.

Please take care of your health.

It is precious to me.

Will you write me tomorrow?


And the next day?


And the day after that?


And the day after that?




[door closes]

Once, an English ambassador challenged my reasons for war.

He said, “You French, you fight only for money, while we English, we fight for honor.”

I replied, “Everyone fights for what they lack.”

[chuckles, stammers]

This is not… This is not your story. This never happened to you, did it?

Of course it did.

Of course it did.

What do you mean?

We had the same saying with my people and the Turks.


Do you?

The English lack honor. We can agree on that.

[Alexander] Listen, there is… [sighs]

[mosquito buzzes]

There’s nothing I think we can agree more with than our hatred for Britain.

I just have to say that it actually…

It would be my absolute pleasure and honor if I could call you my brother.

There is a way for you to call me brother.

Last night, at dinner, I was… [sighs] charmed by your sister.


Is she spoken for?

Ah. Sadly, yes.

She’s to be married to the Duke of Oldenburg, I’m afraid.

Uh, and what of her younger sister? Anna?

[stammers] Is there a formal offer for Anna?

[mosquito buzzes]



Uh, well, you see, An-Anna, she’s 15 years old.

That is a detail.

[mosquitoes buzzing]

Our friendship is built on our mutual distrust of England.

When we hold to the Continental Blockade, we choke them from the trade, and we fight for our most sacred rights.

That is what is important between us.

I just had a thought.


No, say it.

Should I tell you?


Imagine an army. 50,000 men.

Russians, Frenchmen, perhaps even Austrians, marching by way of Constantinople into Asia would have only to reach the Euphrates to make England tremble and bring her down on her knees before the continent.


It is incredible.



To you.

To us.

His Majesty, the Emperor Napoleon, wishes to make a formal offer to Austria and to His Majesty, King Francis, for the hand of the archduchess, Marie-Louise.

His eldest daughter.


Uh, this union would bring together Austria and France in an unbreakable matrimonial bond.

[in German] Is this a joke?

[in German] I may find it humorous… but His Majesty does not.

[in English] Did you have a pleasant journey?

It was wonderful. Thank you.

You’re quite petite.

I’m not accustomed to that.

[Marie-Louise chuckles]

How do I look to you?

Do I resemble my portrait?

Oh, yes. And even more handsome and strong.

And you are even more handsome, more be-beautiful.

[chuckles] I hope you’re pleased with your choice.

I hope so too. Would you like to see the bedroom?

[chuckles] Yes, thank you.

Your Majesty, your son.

[breathing shakily]

[doors close]

[soldier shouts, distant]


[baby fusses]

[soldiers shouting, distant]

[soldier] Fire!

[distant gunfire]

[baby crying]

Oh. [shushing]

[crying stops]

[shouting continues, distant]

My little king.

[carriage driver] Hyah, hyah, hyah!

[horse hooves approaching]

[carriage driver] Hold.

[baby fusses]

[baby coos]

[baby grunts]



Oh, sweet child.

[baby grunts]

One day, you will understand what I have sacrificed for you.

[baby cooing]


[Napoleon] My dear Joséphine, I’m sad today.

Tsar Alexander has turned against me and forced me to invade Russia.

He’s decided to open his ports to England while taxing the French.

I must wipe away my melancholy and begin the march to Moscow.

I’ve convinced the heads of Europe of this resolution, and so I command the combined forces of France, Austria, Italy,

Germany and Poland.

I see nothing but success in my future.

[French soldier 1] Keep your lines. Steady.

[French soldier 2] To the front.

[French soldier 3] Keep your step.

[speaking Russian]

[shouting, grunting]

[French soldier 1] Take cover!

[French soldier 2] Get down!

[French general] Get down! Get down!

[Russian soldiers speaking Russian]

[French general] Hyah, hyah! Hyah!

After them! After them!


[Russian soldier grunts]


Whoa, whoa.

[horse nickering]


[horse whinnies]

Get back! Drop back. Retreat.

[grunts] Fall back!

[soldiers shouting]

[Napoleon] My dear Joséphine.

I’m writing to you because I have just won a great battle today.

Tomorrow we will resume our advance.

Moscow is now only 200 miles away.

And I think of you all the while. All yours.

[French soldier 1] Nearly there. Nearly there.

[French soldier 2] Thank you, sir.

[speaks indistinctly]

[soldier coughing]

Thank you, Admiral.

You were the brave of Austerlitz.

[dogs barking]

[dogs barking]

[Napoleon shouting] Where are you?

300,000 souls lived in this city.

And they’ve all just left?

Little boy.


Where are you?

Don’t be frightened.

I’m just gonna give you a little spanking.

It’s not very sporting, is it?

For his honor and Russia’s, not mine.

There’s dignity to be had in defeat.


[fire crackling]

[gasps, breathing heavily]

Who did this?

They did.

No, they did not. Be sensible.

Who set these fires?


Your Majesty, they did.


He’d rather burn his own city than negotiate with me.

I didn’t think he had the courage.

Well, we’ll go to Saint Petersburg and have him burn that too.

We have let too much time slip away.

We would be marching into the Russian winter with horses that are not raised for this weather.

If we go back to Poland, we can wait out the winter months.



[Joséphine] Napoleon, your letters are a soothing balm to my heart.

I fear for you.

Remember that I alone know your health…


your fears.

I thank you as tenderly as I will always love you.


[Napoleon] My friend, Joséphine.


It is strange to write that word to you.

You have always been so much more.

[soldiers coughing]

[fife playing]

[Napoleon] Despite careful organization, there have been breakdowns in supply.

We’re suffering sickness, desertion and famine.

We are winning.

[soldiers coughing]

[Napoleon] Us or Cossacks?

[French general] Us.

[Napoleon sighs] Joséphine. Fortune has abandoned me.

I know that it is what fate has for me.

Your words rattle in my head.

I am nothing without you.

[politician] Of the 600,000 men you sent to Russia, only 40,000 have returned.

Therefore, you have been exiled in no uncertain terms.

The allied coalition of Austria, Prussia, Russia and England, and with the agreement of the French Council, grant you sovereignty of the island of Elba.

A revenue of two million francs from the French funds, pensions for the Bonaparte family and the Empress Marie-Louise.

It also provides for Empress Joséphine to retain all of her properties and an allotted annual income of one million francs.


I love France too much.

All I’ve desired was its glory.

I would never bring her misfortune.

They want me to abdicate. [sighs]

Fine, I’ll abdicate.

[townsfolk chattering in Italian]

Your Highness.


[Joséphine] Here.

[Alexander] Joséphine, Joséphine. Hmm?

[chuckles] I am charmed.

But… [sighs]

you do not have to lock yourself away just because he’s not here.

I know what it is like to be underestimated.

But your eyes, your charm and your spirit, it is in there.

It is yours, and you can use it.

[classical music playing]

[Napoleon] Dear Joséphine,

You are mine. You will always be.

I cannot stand it any longer.

[crew member shouting]

It has been 300 days on this rock, and I’m ready to come home and reclaim what’s mine: you and France.

[crew members shouting]

[Napoleon] I’m taking your ship.

If you do not provoke me, you do not have to fear me.

[Joséphine] Napoleon, I’m a flower that opens its petals and smiles to the sunshine, unconscious that the storm is near which will lay me low and scatter leaves to the heavens.


Come quickly, my friend.



If you would open your mouth, please.


Thank you.

Thank you.

Well, your chest is congested. Your throat is aflame.

My suggestion is to stay in bed.

[wheezing] But Napoleon is coming.

It would be unwise to receive any visitors.

But Napoleon is coming.

I understand.


[Dr. Corvisart] Just keep her comfortable.

Whoa, whoa!

Your Majesty.

You may speak.

Bonaparte, Your Majesty. He has returned.

A ship landed on a beach in Antibes this morning, and they’re on the march.

Napoleon Bonaparte is marching towards Paris.

[breathing heavily]


Your Majesty.

Afternoon, Colonel.

[colonel] Your Majesty.

General Marchand, in defense of the royal government of King Louis XVIII, requests that you surrender your weapons and cease your march so that you may be arrested and returned to your island.

Will you please inform the general that I shall like to come and speak with him?

I have no fight with my own Fifth Army.


He wishes to speak.

Make ready!


Soldiers of the Fifth Regiment, do you recognize me?

Do you recognize me, soldiers?

[French soldier] Yes, Emperor!


[Napoleon] I miss you.

I’m melancholy for my home… and for our victories together.

I want to come home.

Will you join me?

Long live the emperor!

Long live the emperor!

Long live the emperor!

[pledging continues]



On May 26th, Dr. Corvisart was called and found her chest congested and her throat inflamed.

Her illness was diphtheria.

On May 29th, last sacrament was given, and she died.

And no one thought to notify me?



Do you blame… [breathes shakily]

Do you blame me?


I don’t blame you.

Of course not.

I’m not to bear the burden of responsibility… [breathes shakily] for the misfortunes of your mother.

I want the letters that I wrote to her. [sniffles]

I’m sorry, I don’t have them. They were stolen by her valet.


Where did she keep them?

In the cupboard in her bedroom, next to her bed.

What did he do with them?

Her valet sold them.


[Hortense] I’m sorry.

I forgive you.

[congress member] Napoleon Bonaparte has destroyed the only title upon which his very existence depended.

This congregation of allies shall form along the borders of France and Belgium an army.

70,000 troops from England, 120,000 troops from Prussia.

This vermin has routed the farmyards of Europe while the farmers snored.

We should have struck this blow long ago.

He has held the world hostage with his egotism, his insatiable hunger for power,and his lack of simple good manners.

We will all sleep again without him.

I believe I speak for all of us when I say that the only regret we all share is that we allowed this vermin to live at all.

250,000 men with the traitor.

25,000 men, 125,000 men and 100,000 men… against our 125,000 men.

This is a fight on land.

This is what Britain does not know how to do that I know.

Strike quickly against Wellington and Blücher.

Defeat them separately.

Disallow them from uniting forces here.




The Prussians are advancing.

We should begin the offensive.

[Napoleon] We must wait for the ground to dry.

Blücher will never make it in time. I’ll have Wellington by lunch.

[thunder rumbling]

[sighs, grunts]

[clears throat]

I never get wet if I can help it. [clears throat]

[thunder rumbling]

What shall I tell the men?

Tell them to make the rain stop.

[British soldier 1] Coming through!

[British soldier 2] In formation!

[Wellesley] Now’s your time, lads. Now’s your time.

Now, listen very carefully.

Patience is the order of the day today. Patience shall win the day.

We must hold this ground.

Let them come to us.

[soldiers] Huzzah!

Go on, boys. Go on.


Good morning, General Blücher.

Good morning.

Estimated time of arrival, sir?


About five hours.

About five hours.

Come on, boys. Come on, boys.


[soldier shouting, distant]

Oh, there he is.

He appears to be… [chuckles] just sleeping.

One thing you cannot resist, my friend, is a frontal attack.

Let’s see how this general can attack our position.

Sir. I have the emperor in my sights. Do I have permission to fire?

Certainly not.

Generals commanding armies have better things to do with their time than to shoot at one another.

Hold your fire, rifleman, on pain of death.

Go on, boys. Come, come.

[British soldier] A runner coming through!

Blücher, 11 to 12 miles, sir.

[British general 1] Attention, follow me.

Blücher at 11 to 12 miles, sir.

Jesus Christ.

I want a report every hour.

Yes, sir.

[French soldier] Runner coming through. Make way.

Oh. Oh.

[panting] Prussians on the roadside, 12 miles.

Prussian troops have been sighted on the road, sire. Twelve miles.

Ready the cannons.

Ready the cannons!

[French soldiers clamoring]

[French general] Go on! Move!

[French soldiers shouting]

[French soldier 1] Ready! Cannons are ready!

[French soldier 2] Cannons are ready!

[French general] The rain has stopped, sir.

Prepare to fire!

[breathes heavily]


[French soldiers] Fire!

[British general 2] Take cover!

Straight into position. Steady.

Prepare for the advance. Get ready.

Prepare for the advance.

Readjust to 195!

Adjust 195!

[French soldier] Elevation 195.


Prepare to fire! Fire!

[French soldiers] Fire!

[British soldiers shouting, screaming]

[British general 2] Keep your head down. Seventh, take over.


[British soldier] Out the way!

[British general 3] Hold fast, men!

Infantry, advance!

[march playing]

[French general 1] Left company!

[speaks indistinctly] And march!

[French general 2] Get in formation. Now!

Keep to the line!


[drums playing]

[French general] Second wave, advance! Over the top, men!

Hold the line!



[French soldiers shouting]

[British general 1] Get ready.

[British general 3] Hold fast.

[British general 2] Fire!

[British general 3] You there, get on that cannon.

[French soldiers clamoring]

[British soldier] Fire!


[French general 2] Fill the gap!

[French general 1] Keep the line!

[soldiers shouting]

Skirmishers, keep advancing! [yelps]

[French general 2] Get in formation.

Fire at will.

[British general 2] Keep them back, men. Fire.

[drums playing]

Go on, go on. Don’t let them rally!

[British general 2 speaks indistinctly] the strike position.

[French runner] Get up, boys. Go on. Go on, boys.

Whoa, whoa.

Prussians, roadside, five miles.

[French general] Five miles, maybe less.

We have to act before Blücher arrives.



[British general 2 shouting]

[French general] Cavalry!


[French army shouting]

Prepare to receive cavalry.

[British general] Prepare to receive cavalry.

[soldiers shouting]

[Wellesley] We must hold our ground. Stand fast to the last man.

We must not be beat!

Or what will they say in England?

[British general] Hold the line.

[British soldier] Keep it tight.

[soldiers shouting]

[British general] Steady, men. Stay in formation.

[French soldier] Long live the emperor!

[British general] Company, halt!

[British general 2] Form square! Form square!

[shouting, clamoring]

[French general] Long live the emperor!

[British general] One section, fire. Two section, fire.

[soldiers shouting, grunting]



[French general] What do we do, sir? We can’t break through.

[British general] Keep them running. Get in back with the square.

Show them your British steel.

[breathing heavily]

[French general] Present arms!


Shoulder, hold!

They’re here, the Prussians.



First over the rise, Emperor.


[soldiers shouting]

[French soldier 1] We need to find a way through!

[French soldier 2] Break the square. Break the square!



[Napoleon] Charge bayonets.

[French general] Charge bayonets!

Your Emperor is with you. You are the brave of Austerlitz.

Never surrender.

For homeland and glory!

[British general] Shoulder to shoulder! Form lines!

[British general 2] Shoulder to shoulder.

[soldiers shouting]


Infantry, advance.

Battalion! [indistinct] Advance!


[French general] Keep the line!

[British general] Footmen, fire!

Second line, fire.

Prepare to charge!


[soldiers shouting]

[British general] Go on! Batter them!

[British general 2] Advance! Advance!

Cavalry advance, sir?

Cavalry advance.

[British general] Prepare for counterattack.

Men, enter. Full support.




[soldiers screaming, grunting]


No. He can’t help himself.

[British general] Sir, Blücher.

Thank God.

Your Majesty! Your Majesty!

Come see how masse de la France dines!

Yeah! Hyah!


[gunshot fires]

Yeah! Yeah!

[soldiers struggling]

[shouting, screaming]

The battle is mine. There will be an end to the war.

[whistle blowing]

[British general] Senior officer, on deck!

Good day, good day, good day.

I am the first to admit when I make a mistake. But I never do.

Because it is geometry.

I simply know precisely where to place a cannon.

But tragically I cannot transfer this knowledge to my marshals. [sighs]

That might be what is most difficult in life.

Accepting the failures of others.

You must not do that.

Encourage greatness.

Mind your head, sir.

[Wellesley grunts]

[British general] Mind your head, sir.

What are they doing there?

Sir, it’s the midshipmen. They adore him.

Well, get ’em out.

Clear the room. Uh, quickly.

Your grace…

Good morning, General.

These boys are delightful.

May I sit down?


[clears throat, sniffs] And this breakfast.

Now I know why you have such a successful navy. Thank you.


[Wellesley clears throat]

I’ve never visited the English countryside.

I imagine I’ll love the Cotswolds… soft flowing hills, gentle light.


Uh, my dear sir, it is only by a narrow margin of opinion that you have been spared the fate of being shot.


[chuckles] Politically, I’m afraid it’s impossible for the British government to allow you to stay in England.

You are permitted three officers and 12 servants to accompany you into exile.

Exile will be contained to the island of Saint Helena under the watchful eye of Governor Hudson Lowe and his family.


Saint… Helena. It’s a small island.

[chuckles] More of a rock, really.

A thousand miles from the mainland of Africa.

I’m told it’s very pretty, tranquil. You’ll have time to reflect.

Your correspondence will be monitored, your presence verified twice daily by the orderly officer.

[crew member] Fix that rigging line. Draw up the sails.

Go below deck!

[crew shouting]

[Joséphine] What will you do now? I hate to see you alone.

Will you come to me? Will I forgive you?

My sweet, stubborn Emperor.

I let you loose and let you come to ruin.

Next time, I will be Emperor, and you will do as I say.

[Napoleon] Well, you were right.

Every night I beg to see you in my dreams.

And when I do, you turn me away.

[soldiers chattering]

[children laughing]

Girls, what’s the capital of France?


And Russia?

Petersburg. And Moscow before.

Moscow. And who burnt Moscow to the ground?

I don’t know, sir.

I did.

I believe, sir, the Russians burnt it to get rid of the French.

Who told you that?

It’s common knowledge, sir.

[children chuckle]

Go. Go play.

[child] En garde.

[Joséphine] Can I tell you what I have waiting for you?

[children laughing]

It is a secret. And I will show you when you arrive.

Come to me, Napoleon. And let’s try this again.


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A Sacrifice (2024)

A Sacrifice (2024) | Transcript

American social psychologist Ben Monroe investigates a local cult connected to a disturbing event, while his daughter becomes embroiled with a mysterious local boy.

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