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Everything we know about 'Napoleon', the Stanley Kubrick script that Steven Spielberg is adapting for HBO

At the Berlinale 2023, The Fabelmans director spoke about the plans to put the lost Stanley Kubrick project for a limited series

Everything we know about 'Napoleon', the Stanley Kubrick script that Steven Spielberg is adapting for HBO
Steven Spielberg's version of 'Napoleon' is finally on the cards

Last Updated: 03.07 PM, Mar 01, 2023


Steven Spielberg might be 76 years old but his zest for filmmaking or anything cinema is far from diminished. Having delivered countless cult classics and blockbusters over the last five-odd decades, the acclaimed Hollywood director is now gradually gravitating towards imbuing his work with a personal touch and his most recent release The Fabelmans is the perfect example of this shift. "I don’t know what I’m going to do next. I have no idea. And it’s kind of a nice feeling, and it’s also a horrible feeling," he said at the Berlinale 2023 press interaction.

But that wasn't the only interesting bit he shared at the Berlin International Film Festival. Speaking in the same vein as his future projects, Spielberg divulged that he is currently developing a seven-part limited series with HBO based on the late legend Stanley Kubrick's unrealized script Napoleon. Although Steven Spielberg has been associated with the adaptation for almost a decade, it would seem that the project has finally gained traction.

Previously, back in 2016, True Detective Season 1 and No Time to Die director Cary Joji Fukunaga was slated to direct the HBO miniseries and Elvis director Baz Luhrmann, too, was involved in the making of the cinematic version of the life of the 19th-century French commander, Napoleon Bonaparte.

"With the co-operation of Christiane Kubrick and Jan Harlan, we’re mounting a large production for HBO on based on Stanley’s original script Napoloeon. We are working on Napoleon as a seven-part limited series," said The Fabelmans director at Berlinale.

A Mega Kubrick Dream Project

Stanley Kubrick originally conceived the Napoleon biopic after he was done with 2001: A Space Odyssey and is said to have gone to extreme lengths to conduct research. Describing his passion project as a 'grandiose epic', he intended on recruiting as many as 40,000 members of infantry along with 10,000 cavalry. With the film set to be shot extensively across Europe (France, the United Kingdom and Romania, mainly), Jack Nicholson was set to play the lead role of Napoleon with Audrey Hepburn approached to play Empress Joséphine (although she would turn down eventually).

Stanley Kubrick's project would be eventually shelved due to factors like its massive cost, the change in guard at the MGM studios, etc. and over the years, the film has achieved the status as 'one of the greatest films that were never made'.

Ridley Scott-Joaquin Phoenix to reunite for Napoleon

However, Steven Spielberg's version isn't the only one in the making. The Gladiator and The Martian director Ridley Scott has already put together a film based on Napoleon Bonaparte's life with Joker: Folie à Deux actor Joaquin Phoenix playing the titular role, Vanessa Kirby as Empress Joséphine and Tahar Rahim as Paul Barras. Scott's Napoleon is scheduled to release soon on Apple TV+.

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