Ridley Scott tells history buffs criticising Napoleon to ‘get a life’

Ridley Scott has a simple message for those pointing out factual inaccuracies in his new epic Napoleon – “get a life.”

The director will soon release his latest picture which stars Oscar-winning-actor Joaquin Phoenix as the 19th-century French emperor.

The film is based on the true story of Napoleon’s rise to power and his tumultuous relationship with Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais, played by Vanessa Kirby.

Though some early critics have dubbed the historical drama a “masterpiece”, some have taken a detailed look at the trailer and have pinpointed elements that fail to match what is written in the history books.

Historian Dan Snow broke down some examples of the film’s use of creative licence in a TikTok video.

One of the issues Snow detailed included the idea that Napoleon “came from nothing”, as is quoted on the poster. “His dad was, in fact, an aristocrat,” Snow remarked.

He also pointed out that “Napoleon didn’t shoot at the pyramids” at the Battle of the Pyramids, and that, despite what’s shown in the teaser clip, Marie-Antoinette “famously had very cropped hair for the execution, and, hey, Napoleon wasn’t there.”

In a new profile about Scott for The New Yorker, the matter of Snow’s criticisms was discussed. According to the publication, when Scott was asked for his view on Snow’s qualms with the trailer, his response was succinct and simple: “Get a life.”

Elsewhere in the profile, it was noted that the team spent five days shooting the pivotal Battle of Waterloo, with military advisor Paul Biddiss speaking to Scott’s keen attention to detail.

“Uniformity is very important with Ridley – right down to the guys, making sure their hats are straight,” Biddiss explained. “There wasn’t a bayonet that was out of sync.”

Scott, 85, has previously given film connoisseurs some insight into the intense preparation that took place ahead of filming.

Ridley Scott (Getty Images For Disney)
Ridley Scott (Getty Images For Disney)

One painstaking task involved talking Phoenix through the specifics of each scene. “He’ll come in, and you’re f***ing two weeks’ out, and he’ll say, ‘I don’t know what to do,’” Scott told Empire of Phoenix.

“I’ll say, ‘What?!’ ‘I don’t know what to do.’ Oh God. I said, ‘Come in, sit down.’ We sat for 10 days, all day, talking scene by scene. In a sense, we rehearsed. Absolutely detail by detail.”

Similarly, Phoenix has spoken about the filmmaking process with Scott, explaining that Scott’s take on the Napoleon story is less about the absolute facts and more about the director’s unique view of the character.

“If you want to really understand Napoleon, then you should probably do your own studying and reading,” Phoenix explained. “Because if you see this film, it’s this experience told through Ridley’s eyes.”

Napoleon is in cinemas from 22 November.