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Napoleon is a 2023 epic historical drama film directed by Ridley Scott based on the true story of Napoleon Bonaparte, a French emperor and military commander who rose to prominence during the French Revolution. Shortly before the film's premiere, it sparked debates and inspired memes on social media as a major historical inaccuracy in it was revealed. The film is expected to premiere on November 22nd, 2023.
On October 14th, 2020, Ridley Scott announced Napoleon, a film based on the true story of French leader Napoleon Bonaparte.
Through 2022, images from the set of the film continued to go viral; for example, an X post from August 11, 2022, sharing three images from the set received over 2,200 reposts and 21,000 likes.
On July 10th, 2023, the first official trailer for the film premiered, garnering over 33 million views on YouTube in four months (shown below, left). On October 18th, the second trailer for the film premiered, garnering over 18 million views on YouTube in one month (shown below, right).
Napoleon Shooting Pyramids Controversy
On November 12th, 2023, The Times published an interview with Ridley Scott in which the director mentioned a sequence in which Napoleon fires at the Pyramids in Egypt, saying, "I don’t know if he did that, but it was a fast way of saying he took Egypt." On November 18th, 2023, film news X / Twitter account @DiscussingFilm posted the quote, with the post gaining over 4,500 reposts and 28,000 likes in two days (shown below).
The post inspired memes and discussions about the presence of the major historical inaccuracy in the film in the following days. For example, on November 19th, 2023, X user @VoicesByZane made a post stressing the importance of historic films being accurate that received over 3,200 reposts and 34,000 likes in one day (shown below, left). Later that day, parody account @DisbussingFilm made a parody post thar gained over 900 reposts and 11,000 likes in the same period (shown below, right).
Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon
Joaquin Phoenix Dressed as Napoleon refers to two photographs of Joker actor Joaquin Phoenix on the set of Napoleon. In the photos, Phoenix is dressed as Napoleon Bonaparte in an 18th-century French general's outfit looking posh and serious. After they were posted in March 2022, they were used as reaction images en masse on platforms like Twitter where meme creators gave them humorous captions to compliment Phoenix's expression and outfit.
"There Is Nothing We Can Do"
"There Is Nothing We Can Do" refers to a history meme featuring former French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte somberly saying "There is nothing we can do" in response to different prompts. The phrase embodies hopelessness, based on Napoleon's exile to the island of St. Helena where he died, with most of the images in the memes being painting depictions of his time there. The meme started as a TikTok photo slideshow trend in late 2023, in which creators used the song "Amour plastique" by Videoclub as the TikTok sound, more specifically, a slowed remix of "Amour plastique." The photos transitioned from the original prompt, to Napoleon saying the catchphrase, to Napoleon looking sad and contemplative on St. Helena.