“A.I. Artificial Intelligence” isn’t the only epic Stanley Kubrick didn’t get the opportunity to finish. Following “2001: A Space Odyssey,” Kubrick began work on a massive historical drama about French emperor Napoleon that included two years of research and development. The film’s life and death are chronicled in the new book “Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon: The Greatest Movie Never Made.”
The book, released by publisher Taschen, includes correspondence, costume studies, location scouting photographs, research material, script drafts, and more. Kubrick’s final draft is reproduced in its entirety. Click here for more information about the book, and head through the gallery for select photos.
Kubrick’s script was to be at once a character study and a sweeping epic, replete with grandiose battle scenes featuring thousands of extras.
Kubrick embarked on two years of intensive research for the movie. He received help from dozens of assistants and a Napoleon specialist from Oxford.
Kubrick’s research included 15,000 location-scouting photographs and 17,000 slides of Napoleonic imagery.
Despite intensive development, the movie was killed first by MGM and then by United Artists. Both studios decided such an undertaking was too risky at a time when historical epics were out of fashion.
Kubrick’s vision intended to use thousands of human extras and horses to accurately represent the French military, which is part of the reason the studios felt it was too risky to officially greenlight.
The book explains that Napoleon’s dramatic rise and fall made for a great story, but it was his mind that most interested Kubrick. The director couldn’t grasp how a brilliant tactician could fall victim to his own irrational temptations — and with devastating consequences.
The book includes more than 800 illustrated pages, containing all the clues to Kubrick’s methods, ideas, motivations, questions, intentions, and obsessions.
The book features the complete original script treatment, plus essays examining the screenplay in historical and dramatic contexts and a transcript of interviews Kubrick conducted with Oxford professor Felix Markham.
Costumes for the film were researched and designed, including paper military uniforms. Kubrick figured using paper would keep the cost of the film down.
Here we see research flash cards mapping out the history of Napoleon and France month by month in 1807.
Kubrick’s complete picture file of nearly 17,000 Napoleonic images is included in the book.
Kubrick’s development got far enough along where he began testing costumes for the era to be included in the film.
Visit the official Taschen website for more information about “Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon: The Greatest Movie Never Made.”