Napoleon Review: In the Name of Art

direction: Giovanni Pescaglia | Scenario: Didi Gnocchi and Matteo Moneta | spit: Jeremy Iron (himself/narrator), EA | game time: 100 minutes | year: 2021

Was Napoleon Bonaparte one of the most influential people of the last two hundred years? makers Napoleon: In the name of art He seems convinced. Not because of his military victories or how he conquered Europe, but because of his connection to art.

This conference will be attended by a group of historians, musicologists, art historians and writers from Italy, Egypt, France and England. and Jeremy Irons who speaks to the viewer and forms the bridge between all the various interviews with the experts. It loosely tells the story of Napoleon’s life, based on his relationship to art. From the art that Napoleon loved to the art that was stolen in his name to the use of art as a means of propaganda.

Together with Iron and Napoleon, we travel through Europe and Egypt, starting at Milan Cathedral, where Napoleon was crowned king of Italy after the conquest of its north. A piece of music was composed specifically for this purpose, the Te Deum, which was performed only once and then lost. Until recently, it reappeared.

Discovering this and preparing for a new performance are the common denominator Napoleon: In the name of art. Unfortunately, this is the least interesting aspect of the documentary, unless you have a special interest in early 19th century music, of course. But until then, this is the least dramatic part of the documentary.

In addition to interviews with experts and scenes narrated by Irons, Napoleon: In the name of art Especially full of pictures of the places where he came thanks to his campaigns. Specifically the highlights of the visual arts and architecture of these places: Italy, Egypt and Paris. The first two because he took so much of this art with him to the last one.

Because Paris had to become the center of the new art of the world. This was indeed the dream of French intellectuals before the French Revolution. But this required a lot of Roman and Renaissance art. Fortunately for them, Napoleon came up with his ambitions to conquer Europe and was a fan of art. In 1793, the Louvre (until then a palace) became a museum and, of course, had to be well equipped.

Despite the fact that the theft of Napoleon’s art was widely discussed, we must not think that he was not a pleasant counterpart. It was very emotional. That’s why Irons also reads love letters from the general to his sweetheart Josephine. Which he later ignored because she did not present him with a male heir.

A comprehensive comparison between Napoleon, Mussolini and Hitler confirms that he was not a dictator like them, and that he did not suffer oppression, persecution and mass murder on his conscience like these two. The comparison is just about how they take it as an example of their visual advertising. Wanting to copy and copy symbols from ancient Rome, that’s what they got from him.

Of course, when 20th century dictators did this, it was mischievous, but Napoleon appears to have been a genius when he did so a century ago. Director Giovanni Pescaglia is impressed by how Napoleon used paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints to “catch the eyes” of all walks of life.

It is remarkable how much emphasis was placed on France and Italy, while Napoleon also added other countries such as Spain, the Netherlands, the Holy Roman Empire, Austria and Poland to his empire. Could it be because of the director’s origin or the film’s funding? Probably. Neither the failed attempt to invade Russia, nor his defeats against an international coalition at Leipzig and later at Waterloo could be escaped. They are mandatory numbers that must be completed.

It is interesting in itself how all these events serve to explore the relationship between Napoleon and art: Gain, among other things, British Wellington over Napoleon at Waterloo is in Napoleon: In the name of art Particularly significant in the context in which Wellington paid to return a number of Italian art treasures, because after the fall of Napoleon the French said they no longer had money for them.

In any case, the approach to Napoleon’s life through the art in which he played a part is a refreshing one, despite the exclusive view of certain countries and the endless focus on Te Deum. An interesting by-product of Napoleon’s extensive vision of propaganda and the use of various images to tell his life story is that Napoleon: In the name of art It almost becomes propaganda in and of itself. The fact that this eventually does not happen is mainly due to a lack of cohesion. The documentary is more of an entertaining series of anecdotes than a complex and coherent story.

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