7 Nov 2002 (Australia)
Simon Leys (novel)
Kevin Molony (screenplay)
Ian Holm (Napoleon Bonaparte/ Sergeant Eugene Lenormand)
Iben Hjejle (Nicole “Pumpkin” Truchaut)
Tim McInnerny (Dr. Lambert)
(viewed Jan 2008)
Superficially, since the plot of this film involves Napoleon being stripped of his greatness, even literally stripped of his name, and falling in love like “any regular guy,” it may seem that the premise is a negative statement about greatness itself – reducing the sublime to the trivial, as it were. But that is not at all what the movie is about; it does not belittle Napoleon, but simply uses an imaginative departure from history to recover dignity and life from what was actually an obscure and ignoble end. It’s a wonderful film with touches of humor and poignancy.
The fact that Eugene and Napoleon are in fact the same man creates a provocative irony in the relationship between Pumpkin and Eugene. After all, the very reason Pumpkin has lived her life in lonely solitude is that her husband, a soldier in Napoleon’s army, had marched off gloriously to follow his great emperor, this “man who had filled Paris with widows and orphans,” and had presumably never returned. Now Pumpkin finds love from this very same man who had carried off her husband, and Napoleon himself discovers love and manages to rescue at least one Parisian widow from her loneliness.
Ian Holm (Bilbo Baggins from Lord of the Rings) was magnificent as Napoleon and Iben Hjejle (pronounced EE-behn YAY-leh, from High Fidelity) performed the role of Pumpkin with a warmth and simple beauty that was captivating.
(viewed Jan 2008) Review
Yeah. It was good. A little note on our viewing: I think my feelings about the film, or lack thereof, can be attributed to the fact that we watched it over at least three nights. I kept falling asleep during it – not because it was boring, as is sometimes the case, but because I was really tired. The continuity of the story suffered a little from this, and therefore, despite the fact that I do think it was beautifully filmed, acted, and a very creative little film, I’m not all that gaga over it.
 It must be remembered that in the 1812 campaign alone, Napoleon set off with 700,000 men. Within a week, food became a problem and within two weeks there was no cavalry to speak of, the horses having been eaten. Snow and starvation reduced his army to 100,000 by the time he reached Moscow, and when Napoleon finally arrived home in squalid retreat, only 10,000 men remained. (S)