Last February I posted a piece about Tachen’s coffee-table book about Stanley Kubrick‘s Napoleon, which was expected at the time to be in stores within four months. That didn’t happen, but it apparently was issued on 9.1.09. Only 1000 copies at $560 bucks a pop on Amazon. I’d love to have two or three hours to sift through it. (All 2874 pages worth.) Has anyone had the pleasure?

I do wonder how sales are given that (a) splurge purchases of this sort are the first thing to go in a recession economy, and (b) reading the free online script (dated 9.29.69) and using a little imagination (i.e., imagining John Alcott‘s Barry Lyndon-like photography being applied) gives you a fairly full immersion into what the film might have been.

By today’s standards, a project like Kubrick’s Napoleon — a film that, had it been made, almost certainly would have been some kind of timeless, splendidly detailed deep-dish experience — exudes an almost antiquated 20th Century vibe. It would almost certainly never be considered in our post-Napoleon Dynamite era, and of course it didn’t even make the cut by the commercial standards of the late ’60s and early ’70s. Here’s a nine-year-old Salon article about the project.


It is a witheringly cold winter night, in Lyon. People, bundled up to the eyes, hurry along the almost deserted street, past empty cafes which are still open. Napoleon, hands deep in his pockets, shoulders hunched against the cold, passes a charming, young street-walker, about his own age. He stops and looks at her, uncertainly. A large snowflake lands on her nose which makes him smile.

GIRL: Good evening, sir.

NAPOLEON: Good evening, Mademoiselle.

GIRL: The weather is terrible, isn’t it, sir?

NAPOLEON: Yes, it is. It must be one of the worst nights we have had this winter.

GIRL: Yes, it must be.

Napoleon is at a loss for conversation.

NAPOLEON: You must be chilled to the bone, standing out of doors like this.

GIRL: Yes, I am, sir.

NAPOLEON: Then what brings you out on such a night?

GIRL: Well, one must do something to live, you know — and I have an elderly mother who depends on me.

NAPOLEON: Oh, I see… That must be a great burden.

GIRL: One must take life as it comes. Do you live in Lyon, sir?

NAPOLEON: No, I’m only here on leave. My regiment is at Valence.

GIRL: Are you staying with a friend, sir?

NAPOLEON: No… I have a… room… at the Hotel de Perrin.

GIRL: Is it a nice warm room, sir?

NAPOLEON: Well, it must be a good deal warmer than it is here on the street.

GIRL: Would you like to take me there, so that we can get warm, sir?

NAPOLEON: Uhhn…yes, of course. If you would like to go there. But I have very little money.

GIRL: Do you have three francs, sir?