22 thoughts on “WCW: Empress Josephine

    1. I’d like to see Rossellini as Josephine; I can imagine her enchanting a younger man.

      However, I was just pleased to see something/anything about Josephine; I’ve been reading about her since I was a teenager, and am now rereading Sandra Gulland’s trilogy, which is very well researched and equally well written. Josephine is sometimes dismissed as a mere light-weight charmer, but she was quite gutsy in her own way. (And perhaps some of her earlier biographers didn’t really consider what it would be like to spend two months in prison expecting every morning to be carted off and publicly executed. PTSD, anyone? I wonder whether any of the movies mentioned this.)

      Exquisite taste as well: https://en.musees-nationaux-malmaison.fr/chateau-malmaison/

  1. Now I want to watch the 2002 miniseries. Or just wear those dresses shown in your screencaps of it. All of them. So lovely.

    Maybe I’ll put it on in the background someday, just to see the costumes! And to watch Isabella Rossellini. :)

  2. Napoleon and Love was boring and the costumes were underwhelming, and the characterization of Josephine was terrible. I know she was upset by the divorce but they turned her into a cringey stage-5 clinger.

    The 2002 miniseries would have been better had they cut all the boring fucking battle/campaign scenes, but I think that’s where most of their budget went. Oh well!

    1. I would agree the battle scenes weren’t that well done and certainly don’t give a sense of scale that previous efforts did. But, making a series about Napoléon’s life and not showing warfare makes literally zero sense. The series that excise what Napoléon did for a living wildly miss the point.

  3. That is definitely Gloria Swanson on the right. Also, I’ve put off watching Desiree, despite the presence of Marlon Brando. For some reason it seems cringe-worthy. Would love to read your review.

    1. I was just about to write, “Yes, Gloria! Right in the middle, ’cause she was the star!” G.S. does have a certain intensity, even when playing ingenues.

  4. I adore Desiree, despite the obvious historical problems, it’s just so PRETTY. All I can say about the costumes is they are lovely and at least the silhouette is right.

  5. I saw the Abel Gance film many years ago. It was pretty impressive. I also saw the Napoleonic exhibition when it was at the Met. Seeing the real clothing, especially the uniforms and the clerical robes was fantastic. What was especially interesting was the size of some of the manikins required for the women’s dresses. They weren’t all tiny. And, of course, the cup… My other encounter with la famille Bonaparte was coming across the grave of Princess Murat in Tallahassee. I’ll go with Rosellini for Josephine.

  6. I felt a lot of onscreen Josephine’s were serviceable but not memorable. Isabella Rossellini was the best to my mind; actually given a character, exudes Josephine’s noteworthy charm, and has a passable resemblance to the personage. It’s a shame the rest of the series wasn’t up to that standard.

    Speaking of Joséphine ou la comédie des ambitions (1979), the actor for Napoléon in that series – Daniel Mesguich – had the most uncanny resemblance to the younger Napoléon. I used to think Albert Dieudonné was foremost in that regard until I saw Mesguich.

  7. Honestly, the 1987 show/film looks like it was inspired by the stage production of Les Liasions Dangerouses(sp?)
    Complete with lounging man in white…. sorry, dude. Rickman did it better. ;)

  8. The 2002 miniseries was so boring and the dialogues so stupid, that it did hurt me. Depardieu as Fouché was one of the greatest miscasts of the decade (just compare him with the real Minister and maybe with Claude Brausseur in “Le Souper” (1992)). However Christian Clavier was a miscast too and Isabella Rossellini stood out in the cast.

  9. I haven’t seen any of these films. However, I must admit that I am not a fan of Josephine’s.

  10. I like the moment in the silent Napoleon (dir. Abel Gance) when the guard at the prison calls out “Beauharnais” and both he and she step forward. The guard requires only one by that name to be executed, so the husband says something like, “My dear, you and I often disagreed, but allow me to win this argument,” and off he goes to be guillotined. Now, that’s class!

  11. Josephine really loved Napoleon, enough to let him divorce her so he could have an heir. And apparently he loved her too. Her name was the last word he muttered in his final delerium.

  12. I know it’s cheesy, but the 1987 Napoléon and Joséphine was one of the pieces that began my love of historical costume movies. Therefore, it will always hold a special place in my heart. That said, there is definitely a lot to snark, so snark away!

  13. The 1979 French series was great. I remember watching it on TV when I was in high school, but I wonder whether it would still hold up as I haven’t seen it since.

  14. There was a movie/ mini-series supposedly about Josephine’s cousin, I believe- based on a story (people debate the truth of it) that she ended up at the Ottoman court…
    I have a vague memory of seeing the trailer a lifetime ago- I do recall F Murray Abraham was one of the sultans, & a Bond-girl was a ‘favourite’ wife or something…
    God, it kills me I can’t remember it (if you ladies found what it was, from my nonsensical blather, could you review it?) – Middle Eastern fashion in film always seems to go with the erotic fantasy, rather than the reality- you just have to look at ‘Magnificent Century’- & that was made by the country it’s representing, not a ‘Western’ interpretation, like say ‘Aladdin’ or an older film like ‘The Son of Ali Baba’ (don’t judge, my standards for historical-looking movies were very low when I was young).

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