Who was Napoleon?  “I found the crown of France in the gutter. I put it on my head.”

Ridley Scott’s film Napoleon had to face criticism before it reached theaters. Historian Dan Snow explained on TikTok that Napoleon never bombed the pyramids, and when Marie Antoinette, the last Queen of France, was beheaded, her hair was short, not the blonde hair she appeared in in Scott’s film. Napoleon did not personally stand in the crowd during the queen’s execution, just as Joaquin Phoenix, who plays the title role, stands and watches the terrible scene unaffected.

Ridley Scott responded to the historian’s accusations, suggesting that he start living instead of wasting time on such nonsense. And Scott, one of American cinema’s greatest strategists, is right, of course. As for the film itself, it doesn’t matter at all whether Marie Antoinette’s hair was curly or short on October 6, 1793. The fact that Scott and screenwriter David Scarpa so quickly integrate their hero with the audience during the execution is a smart cinematic move: it’s about pressure that doesn’t diminish in Sometimes about poetry.

Much of the life of the man born on August 15, 1769 in Ajaccio, Corsica, is hidden in the fog of war. “What actually happened on October 5, 1795 remains a mystery,” writes his biographer Adam Zamoyski, although the events of that day were crucial for the Revolution and for Napoleon Bonaparte, who was baptized in Italian. “His role in this story is the most elusive,” Zamoyski adds.

We’re talking about the day Napoleon apparently ordered dozens of cannons brought up shortly before sunrise to put down an uprising against the young republic whose leader had just staged a coup. Napoleon defended, so to speak, the power of the people against a nation which, after so many years of revolution and a reign of terror, yearned for the tyrannical hand of the king.

Historians also debate the attribution of unspoken words to Napoleon.

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