Culture news Did Napoleon really destroy this ancient monument as shown in Ridley Scott’s film?
If there is a film that is being debated at the moment, it is Napoleon by Ridley Scott. One of the most talked about scenes is that of the Emperor shooting at an ancient monument. But then, pure fiction or reality?
Napoleon continues to be controversial. Directed by Ridley Scott and released in France on November 22, 2023 the film is often singled out for its historical inconsistencies. Precisely one of the scenes that made the most noise was that of the emperor shooting at the pyramids of Egypt. So historical truth or pure fiction?
As its name suggests, Ridley Scott’s latest work is a biopic on the history of Napoleon. It tells us the life of the Emperor, going from his origins, to his rapid rise during the French Revolution and then from his fall to his exile on the island of Saint Helena. The film is seen through the eyes of Napoleon and his relationship with Empress Joséphine from Beauharnais.
An assumed inconsistency?
Even though the film presents itself as a historical biopic, many historians have criticized the feature film’s errors and inconsistencies. One of the scenes that raised eyebrows the most was the cannon fire on the Pyramids of Egypt. Already to put in context, yes, Napoleon did lead his army to Egypt on July 21, 1798. At the time, while he was still a general, he led the battle of Embabeh 15 km from the Pyramids of Giza (Fun fact: The pyramids of Giza are the only ones of the Seven Wonders of the World to have survived to this day / not to be confused with the New Seven Wonders of the World). The Mamluks, a caste of warriors descended from slaves, face the French Army of the Orient. Napoleon won this war 3 days later and occupied Cairo, but no cannonball reached the Pyramids as shown in the film.
Lorris Chevalier, French historian, who accompanied the British filmmaker throughout the production, spoke on the subject in the columns of Premiere. “ Of course this is not true, on the contrary, Napoleon was more keen to preserve the treasures of Egypt. But Ridley Scott’s idea was to show the superiority of the character,” the historian then defended. “There are a lot of things that are just details that are not really important, as long as they advance the story of the film, the screenplay,” Lorris Chevalier said.
Faced with criticism, Ridley Scott lost his temper
This is not the only inconsistency present in the film, the relationship between Napoleon and Joséphine is also strongly criticized. A thread on errors was even accomplished on X (ex Twitter). Faced with all these criticisms, Ridley Scott even got carried away by attacking historians, which had caused controversy. “When I have disagreements with historians, I ask them: “Excuse me dude, were you there? No? Well, then shut up!” » the director then declared, getting angry.
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