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Joaquin Phoenix Rises to Power in Fierce New Trailer for ‘Napoleon’

Joaquin Phoenix’s Napoleon is not built like other men. The second trailer for Ridley Scott’s soon-to-be-legendary historical epic has dropped, unveiling a genius with a crown, a warrior with flair, an emperor extraordinaire and a rebel with a cause. Directed by Ridley Scott with a screenplay penned by David Scarpa, the upcoming film reunites Phoenix and Scott following their celebrated partnership in the 2000 epic drama Gladiator. Promising a visually spectacular action-packed epic, Scott’s ‘Napoleon‘ will explore the tumultuous ascent of French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

“Against a stunning backdrop of large-scale filmmaking orchestrated by legendary director Ridley Scott, the film captures Bonaparte’s relentless journey to power through the prism of his addictive, volatile relationship with his one true love, Josephine, showcasing his visionary military and political tactics against some of the most dynamic practical battle sequences ever filmed,” reads the film’s synopsis. The second trailer for ‘Napoleon’ continues from where the first left off, featuring Phoenix’s Bonaparte orchestrating a cunning trap against opposing forces on a wintry battlefield.

Napoleon apple tv joaquin phoenix
Napoleon (JOAQUIN PHOENIX, centre) looks onto the battlefield in Apple Original Films and Columbia Pictures ‘NAPOLEON’ | Image: Aidan Monaghan

Set to the iconic 1970 track “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath, the remainder of the trailer vividly charts his ascent to power in 1790s France while also delving into the complexities of his relationship with his wife, Josephine, played by Vanessa Kirby. “Those in power only see me as a brute unfit for higher office,” remarks Phoenix’s Napoleon as scenes from his early life unfold. “But I follow in the footsteps of Alexander the Great and Ceaser.”

In the wake of the French Revolution, Napoleon swiftly seized control of the nation, self-proclaiming himself as emperor, and initiating a lengthy reign marked by diplomatic and military clashes with major European powers, including Great Britain. The trailer also hints at Bonaparte’s intricate and tumultuous relationship with his beloved Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais (played by Kirby), a beguiling seductress and a prominent power player. Joséphine’s first husband, Alexandre, Viscount of Beauharnais, was executed during the French Revolution, and she lost her children.

Napoleon apple tv trailer joaquin phoenix
Image: Apple

To escape execution, she resorted to a pregnancy, resulting in a believed abortion that complicated her fertility. This complicates her relationship with Napoleon, who naturally wants an heir. During his coronation, Napoleon, in an act of self-assertion, declares, “I found the crown of France in the gutter, and place it atop my own head.” In a later scene in the trailer, Kirby’s Joséphine takes charge, instructing Napoleon, “You want to be great, but you are nothing without me. Say it.” 

The trailer concludes with Joaquin Phoenix questioning, “Whose country are we in?” and responding firmly, “Mine.” In an interview with Empire magazine, Phoenix and Kirby disclosed their unconventional on-set approach, where the pair agreed to “surprise each other” with spontaneous, unscripted reactions and physical interactions. Phoenix recalled saying, “She said, ‘Look, whatever you feel, you can do.’ I said, ‘Same thing with you.’ She said, ‘You can slap me, you can grab me, you can pull me, you can kiss me, whatever it is.'”

Napoleon is set to make its exclusive debut in theatres on November 23, followed by its release on Apple TV+. Check out the second trailer above.

Napoleon apple tv joaquin phoenix
Image: Apple