Napoleon & Love
by Jef Burnham
Making its North American DVD debut from Acorn Media on March 1, 2011.
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Academy Award-nominee Ian Holm (The Lord of the Rings, The Fifth Element) plays Napoleon Bonaparte in this spectacularly scripted British period drama from writer Philip Mackie (Armchair Thriller: “The Limbo Connection”). This three-disc set from Acorn features all nine episodes of the series, which was seen here on A&E and PBS but originally aired in 1974 on UK’s ITV.
Avoiding the battlefields where Napoleon made his name, the series follows his rise to power as related through his private interactions with his many lovers, beginning with his marriage of political convenience as a young General. Given that Napoleon & Love’s narrative is driven almost exclusively through conversation, the series is surprisingly captivating. Its ability to consistently engage its audience owes to the sheer variety of conversations, terrific pacing, and stellar performances. Ian Holm in particular is phenomenal as the sinister, self-serving Napoleon. Tim Curry (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) Peter Bowles (Blow-Up), Billie Whitelaw (Hot Fuzz, Quill), and Susan Wooldridge (How to Get Ahead in Advertising) are among his many notable co-stars.
The disc begins with a disclaimer about the limits of the transfer, warning us that the picture may be display a number of defects as a result of the age of the source material. That being said, the picture quality is very fine indeed in spite of the aforementioned deterioration of the video stock. While interviews or commentary with the cast and crew would have been most welcome, this release is unfortunately lacking in special features, save for a paltry timeline of historical events and cast filmographies.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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