You are Visitor No:

Counter by Escati


SUMMARY:   A biopic about the last five years of the life of Napoleon Bonaparte  (Pacino) on the isle of St. Helène, especially the relationship between him and the teenage daughter of his jailer.





An interview with writer, Staton Rabin, who has a film option for her unpublished book manuscript, Betsy and the Emperor

(See the whole interview here Thanks curiouscat for this article.)

Staton Rabin: BETSY was my first film option.  I got the idea for the story by reading history books, just for fun.  I read a conversation that took place between Napoleon Bonaparte and British teenager Betsy Balcombe when he was being held captive on St. Helena after Waterloo.  Betsy had been locked in the wine cellar by her father for some infraction, and Napoleon, who was her friend and platonic playmate, passed by, and noticed her through the bars.  And he said, "Betsy, now we are both prisoners.  But you cry.  I don't cry."  She replies, "You have."  And he says, "Yes, but the prison remains a prison.  So it is better to be cheerful.  Betsy, come to me when you are liberated, and Pierron will make bonbons for us, and we will laugh, again!".  And I went, "Hmmm.....that's movie dialogue!".  I was amazed at the different side this showed of the great Emperor and conqueror, who is usually depicted as a heartless tyrant, screaming and yelling all the time.  I thought that this is a man with interesting facets to his character.  And how much more interesting to write about someone experiencing loss, who fell from the heights of power, than a man who is in the midst of success!  And the notion that one can be in a prison, but still has a choice about whether or not one's soul is imprisoned, interested me.  I thought he and this girl would have something to teach each other about the true nature of freedom.  She loved him not for who he used to be, nor for his great power, but for who he really was.  And he had lost everything:  his army, his crown, his palace, his empire, his wife and small son.  This feisty, tomboyish girl too was a prisoner-- of her time and gender.  What did she do that got her locked in a cellar?  And Napoleon, this great warrior, once lord and master of 82 million souls, admits to a young girl that he has cried.  Pretty amazing stuff.  And it was all true.


Chereau Talks 'Napoleon' & Al Pacino

    (thanks Lisa Wollney for this info)

    Thursday, May 10, 2001 7:36 CDT
    Caltanet Cinema talked to French director Patrice Chéreau ("Intimacy") about his upcoming "Napoleon" project.
    I spoke with Chéreau about his next project about Napoleon. He was contacted by Al Pacino (who, of course, will play the lead role) and he started working with a screenwriter to adapt for the screen. The pic was originally called "Betsy and the Emperor", whereas Chèreau said the producers changed their mind and refused to use this horrible title.
    The movie will tell the last five years of Napoleon in the isle of St. Helène and it will be very critical towards him. Chéreau told me that he can't understand why people are fascinated with a man who is responsible of millions of deaths. In his idea, this film will look a bit as The Queen Margot.
    The director is very happy to work with Al Pacino. "He is the one I need", he told me, "because is one of the few american actors who isn't afraid to take risks". "I like when he is excessive, because he will fit the role perfectly".
    Chéreau is also interested to realize a pic about the France during the WW2, focusing his attention on the Vichy Republic, which collaborated with the Germans. Thus, if Intimacy stirred up a lot of controversy, I'm sure both these projects can make the same.


Pacino to play Napoleon (JAM)

    Friday, October 27, 2000,
    After launching his movie career playing mob scion Michael Corleone, Al Pacino will now get a chance to play another diminutive warrior.
    The Hollywood Reporter says Pacino will portray Napoleon Bonaparte in "Betsy And The Emperor," to be directed by Patrice Chereau. No other information about the cast or production dates was reported.
    Director Chereau, 56, has worked largely as a stage director. He most recently directed his English-language film debut, "Intimacy," starring Marianne Faithfull and written by "My Beautiful Laundrette" scribe Hanif Kureishi.


Betsy and the Emperor, October 29, 2000, By Dana Harris

   HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - Al Pacino is set to play Napoleon Bonaparte in "Betsy and the Emperor," a drama loosely based on the French empereor's exile.
    Patrice Chereau ("Queen Margot") will direct the picture from an unpublished manuscript by author Staton Rabin. It will fictionalize the the true story of Bonaparte's relationship with the young daughter of his jailer on the island of St. Helena.
    Pacino became involved with the project after actress-producer Colleen Camp handed him a copy of scribe Jean-Claude Carriere's ("The Unbearable Lightness of Being") adaptation.
    The film is being developed by Warner Bros.-based Storyopolis Prods., while French commercial broadcaster TF1 is in advanced negotiations to finance it.
    The film is being adapted for the screen by famed scribe Jean-Claude Carriere (The Unbearable Lightness of Being).
    (from another source) It will fictionalize the true story of Bonaparte's relationship with the young daughter of his jailer on the island of St. Helena.





  Chéreau is extremely keen to get Al Pacino for the role "He is the one I need because is one of the few american actors who isn't afraid to take risks. I like when he is excessive, because he will fit the role perfectly".  (Originally titled "Betsy & The Emperor", the film will take a very critical look at the famous French leader and show how he's come to be considered one of mankind's most evil men as millions died under his leadership. Chéreau is also keen to do a WW2 project about the Vichy Republic in France whom some members of turned collaboraters with the Nazis.) Caltanet Cinema



The Napoleonic Alliance (a page devoted to things Napoleonic)
Mohican Musings (page on Napoleon director Patrice Chereau