napoleon and the persecuted pair

The fortunes of both were inextricably bound up with the star of  Napoleon. The image of this persecuted pair lingered in the hearts of his enemies as a romantic ideal. The fact the Napoleon disliked Mme de Stael heartily was something she could never appreciate. This advocate of free love and hailer of the romantic movement was exactly what Napoleon opposed. Her writings and person were banned from Paris. Juliette recamier was the epitome of feminine charm and attraction; but it also meant proscription from Paris and the open disfavor of the Emperor….

Read More: ---Firmin Massot, Juliette Récamier, 1807, huile sur toile, 29,5 x 24,5 cm, Lyon, musée des Beaux-Arts © Lyon, MBA / Photo Alain Basset---

The greatest movie never made. After 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick could have made almost any film he wanted. Well almost. What he wanted most to realize was his vision of the chaotic,sex obsessed, war-filled life of Napoleon. It was to be no ordinary Hollywood biopic; Kubrick planned to stage full-scale re-creations of the French ruler’s most infamous wars, and he wanted to do it on the same battlefields that Napoleon had fought on 150 years before. The screenplay indicates Kubrick put a predominant amount of emphasis on the love story with Josephine; erotic and carnal in an almost Eyes Wide Shut sort of way. If he had centered the script around two other “femmes fatales”, Mme de Recamier and Mme de Stael perhaps the film may have been made after all…

---Francois Gerard. 1810. portrait idealized and more or less official. Mme de Stael is represented in the symbolical attitude of the heroine of her novel Corinne. There is some inspiration in her face, but her pose is affected and her costume too theatrical.

…It began in the summer of 1798. Jacques-Rose Recamier , the Paris banker, had rented the Chateau de Clichy, a sumptuously furnished summer house that once belonged to Louis XIV, for the hot weather. In his speedy calash he came only to dine and to sleep, but his young wife was happy there. Because of the proximity of this smiling village to Paris, her friends were easily able to visit her, and M. Recamier often brought guests to dinner. Thus it was that one summer afternoon she unexpectedly made the acquaintance of Mme. de Stael, the daughter of the former French minister of finance, Jacques Necker.

At the time she met Juliette Recamier, Mme de Stael’s activity was prodigious. Besides literature, she was then occupied with politics; she took the risk of making herself suspect with the Directory, which twice ordered her out of Paris. She was of small stature, eager, impetuous, energetic, sometimes virile in character and bearing, and she exercised a natural ascendancy over the twenty-one year old Juliette, a graceful girl but unfinished, expansive and timid by turns, uncertain in her tastes and affections, spoiled, lacking guidance from a husband who was too mature for her and was never more than a brother, and fundamentally worried at not having yet found her way in the world. …

Read More: A more vital portrait by Mme Vigee-Lebrun shows also a rather stilted and premeditated character, with Mme de Stael holding a lyre...

Kubrick then hired a renowned Napoleon scholar, Oxford University professor Felix Markham, to serve as overseeing historical advisor, and purchased the rights to Markham’s own biography of the man. Though Kubrick used Markham’s book as a basis for his screenplay, he mainly bought the rights as a legal base to avoid “the usual claims from the endless number of people who have written Napoleonic books.”

Read More: ---He spent countless hours digging through manuscripts, reading books and researching the life of the great French emperor, created a meticulous card catalog of the places and doings of Napoleon’s inner circle, and amassed over 15,000 location scouting photographs and 17,000 slides of Napoleonic imagery. Then he wrote a preliminary screenplay. But in his obsessive genius, Kubrick envisioned such an epic movie that it was ultimately canceled due to the exorbitant costs of location filming.

Kubrick used 20 of Markham’s graduate students to construct a master biographical file on the 50 principal characters of Napoleon’s life. A file ordered by date was devised to store index cards of key events, when and where they happened, with each index card annotated with individual characters&#

; names. This allowed Kubrick to instantly determine where each of his characters was on a given date, and what they were doing in relation to one another….Read More:


…During the winter that followed their first meeting, the two women saw much of one another. It became a habit to invite them together. “Mind and beauty” people murmured on seeing them together.

In turn, Mme Recamier taught Mme de Stael graces and refinements that until then had been rather foreign to the lady of Coppet. To this strong woman she taught the power of weakness and the charm of fragility; to this passionate woman she revealed the value of tenderness, the dignity of a desire that knows how to control itself and to wait, the modesty of certain silences, and the eloquence of certain smiles. …

In Kubrick’s film you would have seen the less than glamorous side of staging a war, the necessary paperwork behind the negotiating and signing of treaties and declarations, the exacting mathematics of troop configuration to determine just how far troops could march on how much food…

Read More: ---Stanley Kubrick's planned movie (.PDF file) on the life of Napoleon Bonaparte is one of those chefs-d'œuvres manqués of which history has cheated us, like Verdi's dream of an opera on King Lear. A new collector's set of ten volumes, recently published by Taschen, reproduces images of the entire archive of materials Kubrick compiled while working on the project, which was planned for production by MGM but eventually shelved.

…As with many of Kubrick’s films — notably “Spartacus,” “Dr. StrangeLove” and “Full Metal Jacket” — the screenplay makes much of the inherent responsibilities that come to the mighty and powerful and of how quick most are to abuse that power. Read More:


to be continued…


By the end of 1968, Kubrick had found suitable locations for his battles in Yugoslavia and the Romanian government was willing to supply troops in the tens of thousands for no more than $2 per man per day. Yugoslavia, no doubt put off by the thought of having multitudes of Romanian soldiers tromping through its countryside for Kubrick’s epic, offered to supply the same number of men for only $5 per man per day….

Read More: ---Napoleon in His Study Jacque-Louis David Another oil painting done by Napoleon's favorite painter, David. This one was painted in 1812, near the end of his glorious empire.

…Both Yugoslavia and Romania also came to Kubrick’s party in reducing his monstrous military-costuming budget. They each quoted him less than $40 per uniform, one-fifth the price Kubrick had been quoted in England. But Kubrick managed to find an even cheaper way to dress the majority of his troops.

A New York firm had come up with a way of producing a durable paper fabric (both drip-dry and fireproof) onto which could be printed the required detail and insignia of any uniform, and the uniforms could be manufactured in the tens of thousands for less than $4 each. Kubrick undertook film tests and found that at a distance of a few dozen yards, the paper uniforms were indistinguishable from the real thing. Prototypes of vehicles and weapons of the period were created from paintings and written descriptions of the time, and Kubrick insisted they be exact to the minutest detail. Once he was happy, the prototypes were readied to be mass-produced in the volume the movie required.Read More:




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