Vive L'Empereur! Vive la Richard III !
In 1814 after the defeat in the Battle of Leipzig, the French Emperor Napoleon
Bonaparte was imprisoned and then exiled by the British to the island of Elba, an
island 20km from the Italian shore. Whilst there, Napoleon continued his memoir and
spent days and nights studying the English language to fight off the endless solitude.
Ironically, Napoleon fell in love with this foreign culture that he so desperately
endeavored to destroy. He even started to use English in his daily conversation with
his personal physician, Francesco Antom``````````marchi. Among the various topics
that they enjoyed, Shakespeare was one of Napoleon’s favorites. In this documentary
Francesco recorded his conversation with Napoleon on the dawn of December 2
1814 (9 year Anniversary of Napoleon’s Coronation) in the 3
All content between ** in the following text should be considered as author’s
footnotes vis-à-vis relevant historical background, read by the narrator.
Napoleon (Standing cold on the beach and facing the remote horizon where his
motherland lies, murmuring):
Now is the winter of our discontent…(Act I, Scene 1) [sighs] If only, if only,
that I could conjure a ghost ship and return to my beloved motherland, and
smell once again the balm of her soil, I would trade my kingdom for it…
“A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse.” (Act V, Scene IV) How
appropriate! My dear Majesty, you sent for me?
Fran, how many times have I told you not to address me as
You know, Sire, some things never change.
My dear Fran, you are still stubborn after all these years. Tell me, how long
have we been friends?
If I recall correctly, 19 years, since that bloody battle of Arcole. Why?
I guess when the end comes people just like to think about the beginning.
I’m sunken here like a stone the ocean beats against, with each passing
second a little more of me is worn away…
Francesco: [interrupts Napoleon abruptly]
Sire, from little what I know, God works in mysterious way. My instinct told
me that your time is not over yet; your inexplicable survival must serve a
purpose. Although we mortals have no rights to judge what that purpose is,
we can still choose how to meet the end. But whatever happens, I’ll always