The Return of Napoleon

Al Pacino is set to hit the big screen as everyone’s favorite despot, Napoleon Bonaparte. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Pacino has been eager to play the infamous French emperor for years, and is now getting his chance by signing on to play Bonaparte in “Betsy and the Emperor,” a film based on a children’s book of the same name written by Staton Rabin.

Directed by John Curran (“The Painted Veil”) from a screenplay by Brian Edgar, the independent film will be based on the true story of Lucia Elizabeth Balcombe, whose father was Napoleon’s jailer during his exile on St. Helena. The two struck up a friendship and (as yet unproven) rumors flew that the exiled Emperor was romancing the teenager. The film may alternately be titled “The Monster of Longwood.”

And it may ultimately have some competition, but that now seems doubtful. There’s another film about Napoleon and Betsy in the works. Last April, “Harry Potter” actress Emma Watson had reportedly signed to play the lead in “Napoleon and Betsy,” a version of the story written and directed by Benjamin Ross. That film languishes in pre-production while the two production companies fight their own Waterloo over rights to the story. For now, Pacino’s version is scheduled to begin shooting this fall.

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