Despite receiving generally positive reviews by UK critics, several high-profile French publications have been less kind, with French GQ saying it was “deeply clumsy, unnatural and unintentionally funny”, while Le Figaro likened it to “Barbie and Ken under the Empire”.
In an interview with the BBC, Scott retorted: “The French don’t even like themselves”.
“The audience that I showed it to in Paris, they loved it.”
Joaquin Phoenix plays Napoleon Bonaparte in the film, which hits UK cinemas on Wednesday (November 22). It follows the French leader’s rise to power and his relationship with Empress Joséphine (Vanessa Kirby). Other cast members include Tahar Rahim, Ben Miles and Rupert Everett.
It is not the first time that Scott has made headlines during the promotion for Napoleon. Earlier this month, he responded to historian Dan Snow’s TikTok breakdown of the film’s inaccuracies, including Napoleon’s involvement at the 1798 Battle of the Pyramids and how he “never” led a French cavalry charge.
“Get a life,” Scott said. “I tend to be visual above all things, before the written word.”
The historical epic will be released in cinemas from November 22, with a four-hour director’s cut set to arrive on Apple TV+ at a later date. The theatrical cut spans 157 minutes.
Scott previously told a journalist to “go fuck yourself” after he said 2021’s The Last Duel was “more realistic” than his past films like Robin Hood and Kingdom Of Heaven.
“Sir, fuck you,” Scott said in response. “Fuck you. Thank you very much. Fuck you. Go fuck yourself, sir. Go on.”
It is the first time that Scott and Phoenix have worked together since 2000’s Gladiator, and the director is currently working on the sequel to that film, with Paul Mescal playing the son of Russell Crowe’s Maximus from the original film.
“I was thinking, ‘Who the hell is this Paul Mescal?’ and then I watched the whole series,” Scott said. “And then, suddenly, Gladiator 2 came up, because the script was working pretty well. And I kept thinking about Paul. And that was it.”
Gladiator 2 is set to be released in cinemas on November 22, 2024.