Movies on the Napoleonic Wars (1792-1815): A List

I watched the Hornblower series last year and enjoyed it very much. I re-watched Master & Commander and thought once again that it is really a good movie. Finally I discovered the Sharpe series with Sean Bean and I like it a great deal as well (at least those I have seen so far). Considering that they are all based on the Napoleonic Wars, I thought it might be high time to see what else there is. I found quite a few movies, some I have seen a long time ago, like Abel Gance’s Napoléon, and others that I still would like to watch. I also included movies on the man himself as I figured there will not be many biopics on Napoléon leaving out the wars. When I was a child I went through a bit of a Napoléon obsession and remember contemplating his wax figure at the Musée Grévin in Paris with awe. I should have been awed that even as a ten-year old child I wasn’t that much smaller. There are quite a lot of German and French productions of the topic. I did include them although not all of them have been subtitled.

The movies that I would like to watch soon are Waterloo with Rod Steiger, the mini-series Napoléon and Ridley Scott’s The Duellists.

As ususal any comments, additions or ratings are highly welcome. The Duellists is a movie I wouldn’t have known of, if it hadn’t been for Guy Savage‘s recommendation in a comment.

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16 thoughts on “Movies on the Napoleonic Wars (1792-1815): A List

  1. Movies on the Napoleonic Wars (1792-1815): A List « All About War ……

    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

  2. Guy Savage says:

    I am going to have to check out some of those older titles. This is a period in history I find fascinating.

    I don’t know if this film would quite fit, but I’d suggest Colonel Chabert. Most of the action takes place post-war but the powerful opening scenes and flashbacks are of the Battle of Eylau.

    • I have always been fascinated by it as well. I always put aside watching Colonel Chabert as I wanted to read the book first. It is one of those Balzac’s I haven’t managed to read yet. I watched Waterloo yesterday and was absolutely amazed. The battle is so incredible… It takes up more than an hour of the movie and you see all the tactics and the massive loss of horses which upset me. Unimaginable.

      • Guy Savage says:

        Well the horses get the short end of the stick once more in Colonel Chabert. The film version really fluffs out Balzac’s novella and gives a much greater role to the Chabert’s lawyer than the book version. This is one of those rare instances where I found the film version better than the book.

      • That is a rare thing indeed. I looked at the book today and realized how short it is, I always thought it was a longer novel not just a novella.

  3. warmoviebuff says:

    Very complete list, congratulations and thanks. The two I can suggest you add are “Damn the Defiant” starring Alec Guinness and Dirk Bogarde. It is about the Spithead Mutiny. The other is “That Hamilton Woman” about Nelson and Lady Hamilton starring Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. Might not be a war movie, but it is set in the Napoleonic Wars.

    I think you will like “The Duellists”. In the Greatest 100 list, only one Napoleonic movie appears – “Napoleon” at #37. “Master and Commander” should definitely be in the Top 100. I also want to see “Waterloo”. Big fan of the Hornblower and Sharpe series. The books are also excellent.

    • Thanks for your suggestions. I actually got the Hamilton woman. I am a huge Vivien Leigh fan, totally didn’t have war in mind when I ordered it.
      You haven’t watched Waterloo yet? It is fantastic, watched it last night and for once I am sure, you would like it and be able to use it for teaching on tactics. I’ve never seen anything like it. As just said in another comment, the massive loss of horses did upset me and I was constantly wondering whether there weren’t any wounded during filming.

  4. tuulenhaiven says:

    Ah yes, Hornblower and Sharpe! I watched both series’ as a teen and liked them. I would probably like them more now. I’m not sure how historically accurate this movie is, but it stars Napoleon (well, Ian Holm) – The Emperor’s New Clothes. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0282768/ I’ve been meaning to revisit it myself – I remember it being amusing. :)

  5. [...] Hugo’s famous poem L’Expiation (an endless poem by the way) on Sunday mornings. I said it in my last post, I went through a bit of an obsession with Napoléon as a child and guess I deserved a little [...]

  6. Crooked Mick says:

    “The Pride and the Passion” – based on C.S. Forester’s ‘The Gun’

    Not great but worth watching

  7. Chris Borgeson says:

    For years I have been looking for the title of a movie made about Napoleon and the Battle of Waterloo. The movie was in French and had impressive battle scenes. I haven’t been able to track down the name of it. I remember, too, that it came out in the early 1970s, around the same time as the version which starred Rod Steiger, but it isn’t that movie.

    Can you help me locate the name of this movie that didn’t make your list above, as near as I can tell?

    • I tried to find out but apart from the movie with Rod Steiger I wouldn’t know of any other movie with such big battle scenes. I’m not giving up just yet. Come back later in the week and I’ll let you know what I found.

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