Throughout his career, the great filmmaker Stanley Kubrick has had numerous projects that either did not pass the pre-production phase or did not receive the green light to be filmed for various reasons. Among them, a project started in the late ’60s, during the post-production of the Space Odyssey, had a fulminating destiny, attracting around it a true cult: the film would be a biographical overproduction of the life and battles of Napoleon Bonaparte, reason for which it was dubbed “the greatest movie ever made.”
Napoleon would be played by David Hemmings (known for Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-up), later replaced by Jack Nicholson, while the role of Empress Josephine, Napoleon’s wife, had been proposed to Audrey Hepburn.
With his thoroughness, Kubrick had made a colossal documentary for this project. He had seen almost everything he could see about Napoleon, he had read numerous books, he had prospected several locations in France, and he was going to film the battle sequences in Romania, where he would gather the people’s army immediately after Sergiu Nicolaescu did it in Mihai Viteazul. According to Filmreporter.ro, “the communist state would have agreed to hand over 40,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry, to appear in the battle scenes.”
So the project had amassed grandiose deployments of strength and increasing costs; in particular, access to a few restricted locations far exceeded the budget, and with the commercial failure of the film Waterloo (1970), which focused on the same subject, circumstances indicated a far too inhibiting financial risk for MGM. So Kubrick’s unstoppable momentum came to a sudden halt.
In 2013, Steven Spielberg announced that he would take over this project and produce it in an HBO series, directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, the director of the latest James Bond film with Daniel Craig, No Time to Die – which is still running in Romanian cinemas.
According to a recent article published by Collider, Fukunaga keeps us informed about the preparations for this series that he has been working on for four or five years. The script seems to be set up, although it is not yet certain how many episodes there will be, but the important thing is that “it happens!”.
Starting from Kubrick’s original vision, Fukunaga traces his journey to the great filmmaker, spending hours in the presence of his family and in his library in Hertfordshire, England. So, the project promises to be the meeting point between Kubrick, Fukunaga and Spielberg, opening a first concrete chapter in the destiny of the greatest film never made, but transformed into one of the most anticipated series of the present.