The night before last a friend who had seen Ridley Scott‘s Napoleon and scratched his heasd over Joaquin Phoenix‘s lead performance, said “what is driving Napoleon?…what is he out to accomplish?” Scott’s film never lays the French general’s cards on the table, but another film did….

Napoleon: “I judge my conduct by my conscience, and my conscience is not troubled. Day by day I too gave my life for my country. I made war in order to secure peace. Not for a year but for a dozen centuries. I dreamed of the United States of Europe. Frenchmen, Italians, Germans, Poles, Russians and all the others. One law, one coin and one people. Was that so rash a dream?”

The screenwriter was Daniel Taradash (winner of Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for From Here to Eternity), the actor was Marlon Brando, and the film was Henry Koster‘s Desiree (’54). Could the dialogue have been more complex, or less staid and simplistic? Sure but at least it gives you an idea of where Taradash’s Napoleon was coming from.

The scene in question begins at the one hour and 45 minute mark…close to the end.