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Starting with our second Snark Week, I’ve picked a shitty frock flick to recap, because I love sharing the blow-by-blows with you. While I’ve asked you to choose for the past few years, I decided to executive decision things this year, since y’all keep refusing to choose this gem — so this year, I will recap Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story (1987). Armand Assante as Napoleon! Jacqueline Bisset as Josephine! First, you must know that the costumes for this were designed by Michel Fresnay, who has designed numerous operas as well as a few TV movies, and was nominated for an Emmy for Best Costume Design. Let’s do this!
In case you missed them, check out recaps part one and two!
Josephine is truly in love with Napoleon! They are shmoopy.
Pauline is being slutty with a soldier in front of everyone. Napoleon hauls her into his study to yell at her and tell her she has to marry him. There’s some choice dialogue like “I don’t want to get married! I’m only sixteen!” Pauline tells Napoleon that he should look to his wife to find someone who has shamed the family.
Napoleon and Josephine are eating lunch, and Napoleon is very quiet. Josephine presses him, but he just says he has to execute an officer as an example to all the soldiers who are trying to shirk their duty. Josephine asks who it is, and it turns out it’s the Block of Wood. She’s aghast, Napoleon yells at her for fucking around, she’s apologetic and teary and there’s more choice dialogue.
Josephine tells Louise to pack her bags, she’s not hanging around for this torture. Napoleon is sweaty and upset, then comes into J’s room and has a seizure. She comforts him. At the last minute, Napoleon spares Block of Wood from execution.
Pauline gets married to her own Block of Wood! All the Bonapartes are there.
Josephine tries to chat up Mrs. Bonaparte, who tells her she’s too old for her son and is super bitchy.
Pauline purposefully rips Josephine’s train, but Josephine shrugs it off, saying she didn’t like it anyway and turning the lace into a shawl.
Napoleon returns triumphant to Paris, where cheering crowds welcome him. Barras and Talleyrand are determined that Napoleon not be allowed to join the consul (committee? whatever group is in power), and pass a law that you have to be 40 to be on it (N is only 29). At a ball, they talk Napoleon into leading an army to conquer Egypt.
The English aren’t happy about the French going into Egypt. Admiral Lord Nelson is off to fight them. Josephine was going to join on this trip, but Napoleon sends her to a spa once he finds out about the English.
At the spa, Josephine reunites with Therese, who is down on her luck. Josephine offers to lend her money.
Hortense comes in, all upset because her dog is fighting another and she can’t break them up. Instead of, ya know, asking someone nearby to help, she goes up several flights of stairs to get her mother. Josephine rushes down to help and trips and falls down the stairs.
A doctor attends Josephine, who should recover after more leeches. She asks him if this will affect her ability to get pregnant, he says only god knows.
Napoleon gives inspiring speeches in Egypt. The soldiers cheer but grumble. There’s other war stuff, but I literally tune out.
Josephine is nearly mended. She bonds with Hortense.
Block of Wood comes to visit, bringing a new PUPPY to replace Hortense’s who apparently DIED IN THE DOGFIGHT OH MY GOD.
Although Josephine is excited, she says nothing can ever replace the previous dog (yes, dog details are important!). She realizes that Louise is spying on them and is furious, because this can compromise her reputation with Napoleon.
Louise has been spying for Talleyrand. He pays her but has no further use for her since she’s been fired. He blackmails Mr. Tits Pervert into trying to tell Napoleon that Block of Wood visited Josephine, but Napoleon basically says “not now.”
Josephine has left Napoleon — he says it’s for Block of Wood, but that’s never clarified.
Josephine arrives with Hortense in tow to beg for Napoleon’s forgiveness. She never actually apologizes or explains, just bangs on the door and shouts “Let me in!” It’s implied that Napoleon may poison himself.
Eugene shows up and joins in the banging, and finally Napoleon relents. The family has a weirdly tender group hug.
Stay tuned for yet more Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story tomorrow!
The only time I really notice a character vs an actor’s age (with the exception of the requisite late 20something playing a 15 year old) is when the script includes something to specifically call out how old/young a character is supposed to be, which drags into contrast how old/young the actor is in comparison. That being said, Armand Assante was much closer to meeting that ‘no dudes under 40’ rule than Napoleon was historically at the time of filming the miniseries.
If there’s a puppy, it’s not all bad.
I don’t know how much more of this I can take (LMAO).
Maybe Napoleon, selfish egocentric twit that he is, should have given his wife a puppy as well. A poodle comes to mind. After all in Egypt he began taking lovers. But the clothes are really showing they’re from the Age of Dallas/Dynasty, but without SueEllen and Crystal.
oh my, who didn’t want to be a Breck Girl?!?! you could even send away for a series of portraits of the Breck girls. sigh.
When I saw the image for the post.. my goodness. I don’t much care for cold shoulder dresses today when they are a thing. Who would think they were a thing then?? Also this plot just seems bizarre. The last image/meme kills me. :-)
That patterned-sheer-over-solid-silver number is a weird mash-up. The front-opening skirt with big embroidery all the way down each edge looks like the train of a First Empire full-dress court ensemble (or rather it would if it were made in velvet, separate from the gown, with narrow shoulder straps to hold it up*); it doesn’t relate to anything anybody would have been wearing in the Directoire, which we are still in at this point.
Nice example here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/60861613@N00/5918606895
Bloody raving hell. There is so very much wrong here that it’s quite enjoyable. Plus a puppy and a Breck Girl! At least Assante looks vaguely Napoleonic. I’m reading a new book about Garbo (by Robert Gottlieb); she would have made a soulful Josephine–N. liked soulful women who would read him poetry–but played Marie Walewska instead.
This sounds awful, and looks worse!
“I’m surprised by how little package shows…”
Perhaps they were going for (presumed) historical accuracy?:
Nothing to do with Napoleon, but I offer for your consideration this 1847 portrait of Tsar Nicholas I in the British Royal Collection.
The Tsar gave it to Queen Victoria as a present after his visit to England. Victoria rhapsodised about his good looks: “he is still very handsome; very tall with a very fine figure […] & beautiful Grecian profile.’ You don’t fool us, Vicky: we know what you liked about him!
Not to spoil anyone’s fun, but almost certainly a hoax. Initially Antommarchi never actually claimed it was a John Thomas. Then many decades later, someone just… decided it was. And at that: if there’s one thing everyone agreed about Antommarchi is that he is a known liar. He actually shouldn’t have been allowed to be a doctor.
In any event, everyone from Napoléon to the British absolutely despised him. When Antommarchi asked if he could remove Napoléon’s ribs as souvenirs, the British physicians responded with an unequivocal, “No.” The would not allow a quack like Antommarchi near Napoléon’s body unsupervised. (Although Sir Hudson Lowe held no esteem for Napoléon, British physicians took their charge very seriously and with reverence.) In all likelihood Napoléon’s best leg of three remains with the Emperor.
At least there’s a physical object involved here, as opposed to the often-repeated urban legend that John Dillinger’s penis is in a jar somewhere in the Smithsonian, if you just know where to look.
Of course, this dried-up thing actually being Napoleon’s Bonerpart is just about as likely as that bloated thing floating in a jar in a museum in St. Petersburg actually being the severed schwanzstucker of Grigori Rasputin.