December 02, 2023

What Ridley Scott’s ‘Napoleon’ Gets Wrong About War

I’m just a defense analyst, so I’ll leave a proper critique of Ridley Scott’s new blockbuster biopic Napoleon to the many reviewers who have already disparaged it. I, for one, found it to be a lukewarm mélange of battle scenes and romantic vignettes, leaving me with neither a sense of the man Napoleon Bonaparte—the bicorne-hatted soldier-turned-emperor of the French—nor a feel for the age of upheaval he so much defined. For a grand piece of historical fiction from the director of such masterpieces as Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, and Black Hawk Down, the film curiously fails to entertain.

No matter what these works have taught us to think, the decisive battle is a myth.

My perspective on Napoleon is a different one. Scott’s film stands in a long line of movies, novels, and even history books that have given the world an entirely wrong view of how wars are fought—and even more importantly, how they are won. And that matters, because the mythical idea of war embedded in Napoleon and so many other works has become so widespread in our culture and discourse that it ends up informing actual decisions about actual wars.

Read the full article from Foreign Policy.

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