LONDON – A previously unseen Stanley Kubrick film is to be released on Blu Ray next month in a version restored by his friend and colleague Steven Spielberg.
Napoleon Bonaparte was filmed in 1978 and made use of a lot of the costumes and research he had undertaken for Barry Lyndon which was released in 1976 and proved a box office disappointment for Kubrick and Warner Bros. Roger Moore plays the Corsican artillery officer who went on to create his own version of the Europe Union.
Film Historian at the BFI Jerky Watsfisshat said they were delighted at the condition the film was in.
It was made in strict secrecy as was typical of Kubrick’s working methods, and the production was plagued by Kubrick’s own obsession with historical accuracy. He had always been disappointed with Spartacus, and especially the battle scenes. He said they weren’t realistic. ‘You can tell they’re just acting dead,’ he said. And so when he came to film the Battle of Austerlitz he ordered the provision of fresh cadavers. His crew were ordered to tune into police radio and try to get to car accidents before the police collect the mangled bodies, costume them and then distribute them liberally about the location.
Giuseppe Alongo – Kubrick’s personal ice cream maker and barber – recalls:
Kubrick was not happy with Moore. He always had the idea of casting insipid wooden actors who he could manipulate as he had Ryan O’Neal and he would later with Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut. But Roger Moore had just completed Live and Let Die and he wouldn’t stop being James Bond. His first line in the film he changed to ‘The Names Bonaparte, Napoleon Bonaparte.
Film critic Anthony Donby relates his own view of the film:
The film is a lost masterpiece. Moore is obviously miscast, but he gives us a suave Emperor of some subtlety, whereas Hattie Jacques as Josephine is comic genius. Leonard Rossiter as Wellington likewise plays the piece for laughs. The battle scenes are truly exceptional with the real dead people making for genuine horror at the bloodiness of Napoleonic conflict.
The Blu Ray Napoleon Bonaparte will be available on Xmas day 2013.