A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
There's a small sense of positivity to be derived from watching someone so committed, ambitious, and driven, rising from effectively nothing to become one of the most powerful people on the planet. But this is at the expense of other people's lives, with a staggeringly high death toll.
Positive Role Models
Napoleon Bonaparte has an unwavering worth ethic, determination, and belief in himself. As a leader, he inspires people and shows a remarkably astute tactical mind, with ground-breaking strategic plays. But he lacks compassion and cares little for human life, proving to be violent, bloodthirsty, oppressive. Both Napoleon and wife Josephine commit infidelity, with Napoleon pushing his wife to the side for not bearing him a child.
Central character Napoleon is a White French man, played by White American actor Joaquin Phoenix. The actor speaks in his own accent, as do the other actors who are from countries including the United Kingdom and France. There is a strong female character: Napoleon's wife, Josephine. Little diversity when it comes to race and ethnicity, although the French Algerian actor Tahar Rahim plays a fairly prominent role. The film has been criticized for failing to acknowledge certain aspects of Napoleon's life, including his reintroduction of slavery to French colonies.
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Violence & Scariness
Film opens with a graphic beheading. Plenty of battlefield sequences: explosions, bloodshed, nonstop death. Soldiers are trampled on by horses, fall to their deaths in icy waters, and are blown up by cannons. Dead bodies and horses are shown. A character shoots themselves in the head. A man aggressively slaps his wife across the face. It's suggested an adult has a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A married couple engage in intercourse. No graphic nudity, but some cleavage. Both Napoleon and his wife, Josephine, commit adultery. Napoleon is determined to have a son, showing no interest in or regard for his wife's needs. In a bid to determine whether he is fertile or not, he sleeps with an 18-year-old.
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Language includes "f--k," "s--t," and "bastard." "Jesus," "Christ," and "God" are all used as exclamations.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink alcohol throughout. In one scene, someone is seen smoking a cigar.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Napoleon is an epic biopic with extreme and bloody violence throughout. The film charts the life of Napoleon Bonaparte (Joaquin Phoenix), the French military commander who went on to become emperor of France, and his tempestuous relationship with his wife, Josephine (Vanessa Kirby). Stylized battle scenes involve graphic and brutal deaths. The film opens with a woman being beheaded, and there is also a scene in which someone shoots themselves in the head. Napoleon shows great perseverance and intellect in rising from nothing to become emperor. However, he is depicted as a tyrant and bloodthirsty conqueror with little to no regard for human life. Sex is depicted on-screen, although with no graphic nudity. Napoleon is shown to use sex purely for his own gain, caring little about his wife's pleasure, other than her providing him a male heir. It is suggested he has a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old girl. The language is strong at times and includes "f--k" and "s--t." Characters are regularly shown drinking alcohol, and a character is seen smoking a cigar. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This epic historical biopic about one of history's most powerful figures can be greatly appreciated, but only really on a surface level. It showcases the extraordinary directing skills of filmmaker Ridley Scott; there are not many, if any, who could bring the life of Napoleon to screen in quite this way. Where the film excels is on the battlefield. The battle scenes -- which, unsurprisingly, take up a fair amount of the runtime -- are grand, monumental, and strikingly immersive. Beautifully shot, the sharp choreography contrasts so well with the violent brutality on display. However, where the film falters is with its "biopic" aspects. Despite the fact that he's in almost every scene, the film barely gets beneath the surface of Napoleon the man. Perhaps this is the point, that here is a man so complex that it's almost impossible to fully understand him. But at nearly three hours long, audiences may expect to come away with a better understanding of what made him tick. On a more positive note, the film is funny, very funny at times. Which is surprising, but by no means a bad thing, considering all the blood and death.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.