4 May 2013 | eschetic-2
Napoleon near the end
As other reviewers have noted, this is a remarkably lavish production (filmed economically in Spain) of what amounts to a one act play drawn from the final exile of Napoleon for the last six years of his life, from 46 to 52 from 1815 to 1821, on the small British island of Saint Helena in the middle of the south Atlantic Ocean following his final defeat at Waterloo.
While Napoleon himself is played with great verve by Kenneth Haigh (a distinguished English stage actor with extensive television credits - possibly best known for his performance in John Osborne's LOOK BACK IN ANGER - only 5 years younger than Napoleon was himself at this point in his life), the real stars of the production are John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson as the Britons confined to the island themselves as supervisors of the former emperor's confinement. The performances may be brief, but the impact is large.
The entertaining but minor (except to fans of good acting and history) as the film is, as others have noted, it is difficult to find these days, but someone has kindly uploaded an acceptable print to Archive.org which is linkable from IMDb itself and an acceptable DVD copy is included as a "bonus film" on the excellent London Films/BFS Video 2002 DVD release of THE BEST OF FRIENDS, the 1991 TV film (shown in the U.S. on PBS' Masterpiece Theatre) of the 1988 Hugh Whitmore play with Sir John Gielgud repeating his Apollo Theatre (London) performance opposite Dame Wendy Hiller and Patrick McGoohan as Sister Laurentia McLauchlan and G.B. Shaw from 1924 through the end of their lives in the early 1950s. It's a worthy double feature - although a possibly better double feature would be EAGLE IN A CAGE and the video of G.B. Shaw's one act play MAN OF DESTINY, about Napoleon on the way UP during his Italian campaign!