Cast & Crew
Documentary depicting the story of Napoleon Bonaparte, who strode the world stage as soldier, emperor and statesman for nearly two decades after riding the wave of the French Revolution to extraordinary power. Napoleon's story is told with paintings by great artists of the day -- Ingres, Goya, David and others; recreations of battles and royal ceremonies; on-screen commentary by a roster of American, English, French and Russian historians; memoirs of his contemporaries; and quotations from his letters and other writings, as well as those of his beloved Josephine Beauharnais. Part 1 recounts the story of Napoleon's extraordinary rise from Corsican obscurity to the victories in Italy that made him a hero to the French people and convinced him that he was destined for greatness. It also tells of his love for Josephine Beauharnais, a woman of extravagent habits and tastes, who did not at first return his passionate affection. Part 2 charts Napoleon's ascent to absolute power, from victorious General to first Consul to Emperor of France. It describes his extraordinary achievements -- from Napoleonic Code and the Bank of France, to bridges, roads and canals -- as well as the tyrannical nature of his rule and the violent opposition of most of Europe. Part 3 witnesses Napoleon conquer most of Europe in a series of brilliant triumphs, including his legendary victory at the Battle of Austerlitz. To sustain his rule, he must keep fighting. But when he invades Spain, he has begun to reach too far. Part 4 describes Napoleon's downfall, including the invasion and subsequent retreat from Russia, and his final battles, in which all of Europe is arrayed against him. Exiled to Elba, he returns to France after just ten months, only to be defeated for the last time at Waterloo. Napoleon spends his final days exiled on the island of St. Helena, far out in the Atlantic, where he writes his memoirs and reinvents his legend.