NAPOLEON*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Jeremy
1789 – The revolution has begun in France after its citizens have grown frustrated with the social and political climate. After the downfall of King Louis XVI, the people set their sights on Marie-Antoinette (Catherine Walker).
1793 – Marie-Antoinette is captured and sentenced to death by the guillotine. People in the streets pelt her with garbage as she is walked up, and everyone cheers after she is decapitated, with her head being displayed in triumph. In the crowd, an ambitious young Corsican captain named Napoleon Bonaparte (Joaquin Phoenix) is watching.
Maximilien Robespierre (Sam Troughton) rises to power as the Reign of Terror begins in France. Napoleon and his brother Lucien (Matthew Needham) meet with Paul Barras (Tahar Rahim), a Revolutionary leader, to initiate the Siege of Toulon, despite limited resources. Napoleon comes up with a strategy to storm the town by the port. His horse is hit by cannon fire, but he persists forward and defeats British forces on the field, as well as by blowing up their ships on the ocean. Napoleon is later awarded the rank of general.
Robespierre is deposed, and after a failed attempt to escape, he then commits a failed attempt at suicide. He is sentenced to the guillotine, and the Reign of Terror later comes to an end, with over 40,000 prisoners being released. Napoleon attends a ball in the summer, where he first encounters Josephine de Beauharnais (Vanessa Kirby), an aristocratic widow.
Josephine’s son Eugene (Benjamin Chivers) comes to Napoleon and asks if he may retrieve his late father’s sword as a request from his mother. Napoleon grabs a random sword and returns it, beginning his courtship with Josephine. The two begin an active sexual relationship and eventually marry. He learns of her former husband, who was executed. Later on, Napoleon is seen leading a suppression against Royalists staging an insurrection, gunning them down in the streets.
Napoleon later travels to liberate Egypt during the Battle of the Pyramids. During his time away, Josephine begins an affair with a soldier, Hippolyte Charles (Janis Niewohner). Napoleon heads back home, despite being warned this would be seen as desertion. He goes back and dumps all of Josephine’s belongings outside in the rain as she is returning home from a trip away. Napoleon coldly chastises her for her infidelity, despite him too having previously engaged in affairs, though he claims to not have loved the other women. Josephine also hits back that Napoleon is nothing without her.
The Directory meets with Napoleon for his desertion, but he instead criticizes them over the poor leadership of France. Napoleon is convinced by Emmanuel Joseph Sieyes (Julian Rhind-Tutt) to start a coup so that he may take over as First Consul. After forcing the current heads to resign, the coup goes off, and Napoleon and Lucien convince their troops to aid them against the resistance.
Napoleon is later crowned as Emperor of France, and Josephine as Empress, but he surprises everyone by grabbing the crown and placing it upon his own head, making himself sound like the nation’s savior. Soon, Napoleon works with Caulaincourt (Ben Miles) and Foreign Minister Talleyrand (Paul Rhys) to try and form an alliance with the Austrians and England, but he is met with rejection. Napoleon has a childish reaction to this, yelling at the king’s messenger and storming off.
A year later, Napoleon gathers his troops at Austerlitz against the Russian and Austrian forces. He lures them out onto the ice while he and his men wait in the woods, and he uses the cannons to break through the ice, sinking the enemies into the freezing water. Later on, Napoleon dines with Austrian Emperor Francis I (Miles Jupp) while Tsar Alexander I (Edouard Philipponnat) declines due to his outrage over the loss of his troops. Napoleon also tells Francis to be grateful that he did not wipe out his entire army.
Napoleon and Josephine continuously fail to conceive a child, depriving him of an heir. His mother Letizia (Sinead Cusack) has him have sex with a young woman to see if he might be the cause of the infertility. Letizia later reports to Napoleon that he impregnated the young woman, so he and Josephine soon make arrangements to legally divorce. They have their ceremony before a council, where Josephine hesitates to read her part of the decree, and Napoleon slaps her for it until she finishes. She is sent to live at the Chateau de Malmaison, where she and Napoleon continue to communicate and send letters to one another.
Napoleon meets with Alexander to try and court one of his sisters, but his eldest sister is already engaged, and the other is too young. He then arranges for an alliance with Austria by marrying Duchess Marie Louise (Anna Mawn). She bears him a son a year later. Napoleon tears up upon seeing his child, and later brings him for Josephine to meet.
1812 – Napoleon starts to make plans to invade Russia due to Alexander refusing to join his peace treaty. He leads his troops at the Battle of Borodino, which sees the loss of over 28,000 French troops, but they still come out victorious. When they make their way into Moscow, they find the city completely evacuated. After camping out, Napoleon awakens to find the city set on fire by the Russians. While Napoleon wants to advance to catch up with the Russian army, he is told that they will not last through the winter if they make that journey. The army moves back toward France, with nearly half a million men having died along the way. For this, Napoleon is later forced to abdicate his throne and go into exile on the island of Elba.
1815 – Napoleon continues to write to Josephine until learning she has fallen ill. He leaves the island and finds a way back to France before coming upon his old troops and convincing them to remain loyal to him. When Napoleon returns to Josephine’s home, he learns from her daughter that she has passed away from diphtheria. Napoleon weeps for his former wife.
Napoleon builds up his army once more to go against Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington (Rupert Everett) and his army at the Battle of Waterloo. A bloody battle begins, and while Napoleon’s army gives it their all, the English soldiers overwhelm them. Napoleon is forced to retreat when Prussian Marshal Blucher’s forces come after his army, and they surrender. Napoleon still takes a moment to salute Wellesley.
Napoleon is once again sent into exile, this time to the island of Saint Helena. He takes time to work on his memoirs while two girls play nearby. He tells them that it was he who set fire to Moscow, despite them having heard otherwise. Napoleon then hears Josephine’s voice calling for him to join her again, and after a moment, he collapses to the ground.
The ending text states that Napoleon Bonaparte died in 1821. Under his command in over 80 battles, more than 3 million enemy soldiers were killed. His final words were reported to be “France…Army…Josephine.”
The film chronicles General Napoleon Bonaparte's rise from captain to emperor, before his eventual downfall.
After commanding the French army to victories following the Reign of Terror, Napoleon is made Emperor of France alongside his wife, Josephine. Despite his love for her, she cannot bear him a child, and they later divorce. Napoleon has a son with the Duchess Marie Louise of Austria, but he retains his love for Josephine.
Napoleon invades Russia and is later forced to abdicate and go into exile after losing many of his men and failing to defeat the Russian army. He escapes the island he is exiled to after learning Josephine is ill, but she dies before he can see her again. Napoleon later regains the trust of his former troops and leads them into battle at Waterloo, but the English forces defeat him.
Napoleon spends the remainder of his life in Saint Helena. His last words were reported to be "France...Army...Josephine."