Ridley Scott Snaps Back At Historian Over Napoleon

By Britta DeVore | Published

Ridley Scott knows a thing or two about directing historical movies. The celebrated filmmaker has backed such titles as The Last Duel, Gladiator, and The House of Gucci, with each production boasting some sort of historical accuracy. Now, Scott is being called out by TV historian Dan Snow, who shot some criticism at the director for the accuracy of his latest picture, Napoleon.

A Historian Criticizes Ridley Scott For Not Properly Studying The Battle Of The Pyramids

In a recent interview with The New Yorker, Ridley Scott says that Snow took to TikTok to point out a handful of blunders in Scott’s big-screen telling of the Emperor of France. One of Snow’s biggest gripes was that Scott and his production team didn’t bother going to the pyramids to properly dig into the Battle of the Pyramids, although that specific skirmish is featured in Napoleon.

He Also Calls Scott Out For Inaccuracies During Marie Antoinette’s Execution Scene

One of Snow’s other criticisms was that Ridley Scott incorrectly depicted the beheading of Marie Antoinette as he gave the actress playing the iconic figure long hair for her appointment with the guillotine. This was, according to Snow, nowhere close to the truth as Antoinette had cut her hair in preparation – something that was very typical for women of the day facing the executioner’s blade. He also pointed out that Napoleon wasn’t present for Antoinette’s execution, yet Joaquin Phoenix’s titular character is in attendance in the film.

Ridley Scott Responds

Stepping up and defending his creative vision, Ridley Scott told Snow and others like him to “Get a life,” quickly shutting down any further criticisms that might be hurled his way. And, although these two specific moments may have not been completely on point with history, the director did his best to keep the story of Napoleon’s life – both on the battlefield and behind closed doors – as true to life as possible.

Ridley Scott Did Extensive Battle Research For Napoleon

As anyone who’s seen trailers for Ridley Scott’s Napoleon can see, the battle scenes throughout the film are packed with non-stop action and feature gorgeous costuming. For example, the team spent almost a full week filming the Battle of Waterloo during which Scott poured over the recorded history of exactly how both armies were stationed on the battlefield. They also ensured that the differences in weapons were shown, to keep in line with each country’s arsenal.

Joaquin Phoenix Portrays Napoleon

As for what viewers can expect to see in Ridley Scott’s latest epic, Napoleon will follow the rise of the Emperor of France and show how he came to power following the French Revolution, his legendary power on the battlefield, and his tumultuous relationship with his first wife, Empress Joséphine. Along with Joaquin Phoenix, the picture will also star Vanessa Kirby, Matthew Needham, Tahar Rahim, Youssef Kerkour, Ian McNeice, Paul Rhys, Rupert Everett, Ludivine Sagnier, and Phil Cornwell.

Ridley Scott Previously Worked With Phoenix In Gladiator

Joaquin Phoenix

The film marks a reunion between Ridley Scott and Joaquin Phoenix as the pair previously teamed up to bring audiences the critically acclaimed film, Gladiator, over two decades ago. Now, both men are vying for an Academy Award win with Napoleon as it’s one of Scott’s biggest and boldest films to date. Napoleon rides into theaters on November 22, 2023, so you will soon be able to check out the historical drama for yourself and decide how well Scott does depicting one of history’s most divisive characters.