Ridley Scott returns to the genre he helped define, the period historical epic, in this week's spectacular new release Napoleon. Scott's 1977 debut film The Duellists dramatised the sweep and scale of the Napoleonic Wars. In his latest feature, the director is taking an intimate look at Napoleon Bonaparte himself, the controversial and groundbreaking French commander turned Emperor who redefined contemporary European history. (Want to know more about Napoleon himself? Click here.)
Napoleon is played in typically fickle and inscrutable fashion by Oscar-winner Joaquin Phoenix, who starred in Scott's Gladiator. Phoenix is well-matched by Vanessa Kirby (The Crown) as Napoleon's tenacious wife Josephine in a movie that splits the difference between a compelling, toxic marriage and several gargantuan battle sequences that fill the screen with their cannon-blasting sense of scale.
Napoleon is Ridley Scott's first movie to play in ScreenX, and this is an immersive experience that's wholly unique to Cineworld. If you want to feel like you've stepped into the visceral Battle of Austerlitz and other key moments in Napoleon Bonaparte's history, then ScreenX is the way to go.
What is ScreenX?
ScreenX is an all-enveloping, 270-degree viewing experience that extends a given movie onto the side walls of the auditorium. The state-of-the-art technology uses up to 12 additional projectors to extend the movie beyond your peripheral vision.
ScreenX is unique to Cineworld cinemas in the UK and Ireland, promising a Napoleon experience that you won't find anywhere else. Find out how ScreenX works in the following behind-the-scenes video.
Why is the combination of ScreenX and Ridley Scott a match made in heaven?
Ridley Scott has long been renowned as a builder of worlds. From The Duellists with its painterly depiction of a decades-spanning Napoleonic conflict to the grimy and terrifying claustrophobia of his landmark Alien, Scott's reputation for tactility and atmosphere precedes him. He came out of advertising and is famous for his tendency to scrupulously storyboard his movies in advance of shooting. This helps secure his meticulous and layered visual style once the cameras start rolling.
Blade Runner helped define our conception of a dystopian future with its vision of a not-too-distant Los Angeles belching fire and smoke while clad in neon hues. Gladiator transported us into the heyday of the Roman Empire, utilising then cutting-edge CGI to put viewers in the heart of the Roman colosseum like never before. Kingdom of Heaven dramatised the Crusades in all its dusty and bloody glory, and The Martian stranded us on ochre-hued Mars with only Matt Damon's stranded astronaut as our guide.
Napoleon is very much in this mold. The movie is resplendent in both macro and micro details, from the lavishly staged battle sequences to the epaulettes resting on Napoleon's military uniform in the early years of his military career. Scott always aims for a sense of tangible physical heft in his movies and Napoleon aims to put practical effects, real locations, costumes and flesh and blood actors at the forefront to make the real-life history feel vivid and real. This is no static tableaux but a series of events that are meant to feel palpably unpredictable and mercurial as we're propelled from the French court to a battle outside the Egyptian pyramids, from Napoleon's marital chamber to the pivotal Battle of Waterloo that ultimately decided his fate.
On his own terms, Scott wants us to be engulfed and surrounded by detail that we can almost breathe in, which makes him the ideal director for ScreenX. Scott's inherent traits as a filmmaker now become more grandiose as the canvas of his new Napoleon movie stretch beyond one's peripheral vision, amplifying the already-impressive levels of visual detail and nuance to greater heights.
What sequences from Napoleon promise to be enhanced by a ScreenX presentation?
From the sweep of the Cairo campaign to the almost cavernous expanse of the interior sequences, Napoleon is a movie that recognises how both exterior and interior locations can attain a sense of breadth. That said, it is the battle sequences where the movie's ScreenX presentation really promises to shine.
If you enjoyed Scott's previous forays into this material, including the gruesome and gripping Germania-set opening of Gladiator, then you'll no doubt be excited for Scott's ScreenX debut. This promises to be a Ridley Scott experience like you've never seen as key sequences such as the Battle of Austerlitz transform into all-encompassing experiences.
Even on its own, the Battle of Austerlitz surely justifies the ScreenX experience. The wintry expanse, the sense of cold one can almost feel in their bones, the seemingly limitless expanse of cannon and the striking image of retreating soldiers and their horses sinking beneath the ice into water that becomes bloodier by the second – ScreenX does justice to one of Napoleon's greatest tactical triumphs, and also does justice to Scott's brand as a filmmaker.
Get a sense of Napoleon in ScreenX by watching the following video.
Where can we book our ScreenX tickets for Napoleon?
Napoleon is released at Cineworld on November 22nd. Click the link below to book your ScreenX tickets.