Book Review: Stanley Kubrick's Napoleon: The Greatest Movie Never Made

How do you follow up a cinematic achievement like 2001: A Space Odyssey? Had the stars aligned, Stanley Kubrick's next project would have been a portrait of the awe- and pity-inspiring world conqueror Napoleon.

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How do you follow up a cinematic achievement like 2001: A Space Odyssey? Had the stars aligned, Stanley Kubrick's next project would have been a portrait of the awe- and pity-inspiring world conqueror Napoleon, starring Jack Nicholson and (fingers crossed) Audrey Hepburn. But after spending more than two years amassing research materials—including 30,000-plus inspirational images— Kubrick was forced to scrap the plan: A rival Bonaparte biopic flopped. Forty years later, cinephiles will finally get a look at the masterpiece in the making by way of Stanley Kubrick's Napoleon: The Greatest Movie Never Made (Taschen, $700), a massive tome that houses 10 smaller books with correspondence, essays, interviews, and a copy of the screenplay's final draft—nearly 3,000 pages of Kubrickiana in all. Considering what he made out of Kubrick's other great abandoned film (A.I.), let's hope Steven Spielberg doesn't get his hands on one of the 1,000 limited-edition copies. He might get ideas.

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Tim Hodler

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