A book on Stanley Kubrick's unfinished film, "Napoleon".

Napoleon is a Stanley Kubrick project that was about to be made into a film before it ended up being cancelled for many reasons. After the success of Kubrick's film, 2001: A Space Odyssey (which was the highest-grossing film of 1968), he had been wanting to make a biographical film about the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.


After reading over 100 books about Bonaparte, he wrote a preliminary screenplay, which is available on the Internet. Kubrick also planned to film much of the movie in France and in the UK studios. He would film battle scenes in Romania. In notes to his financial backers, preserved in The Kubrick Archives, Kubrick said that he was unsure how Napoleon would turn out, but that he expected to create the best film ever made.


Three unfortunate things ultimately caused the cancellation of Napoleon. The prohibitive cost of location filming was already one factor, but two other things were more significant: the 1968 release of War and Peace, as well as a 1970 Napoleon-themed film (Waterloo) that was a commercial failure. Kubrick was frustrated, but much of his research would influence Barry Lyndon, another period piece released in 1975. As late as 1987 (nearly two decades after 2001), Kubrick said he had read almost 500 books on the figure and still hadn't given up on Napoleon. He was never able to finish the film, due to his death in 1999.


Although Stanley Kubrick was unable to direct Napoleon, he still wrote a screenplay for the unfinished project. American film director Steven Spielberg (whom Kubrick would occasionally collaborate with near the time of his death) has announced plans to make a television miniseries based on Kubrick's screenplay.