List of Napoleonic Era Movies

Since I’m interested in the napoleonic period lately, namely the british navy of this time (heck, I even own a complete royal navy post-captains uniform, pattern 1795-1813. Replica of course), it occured to me, that somewhere on the internet a comprehensive list of movies playing in this time should exist. Well, I couldn’t find one. The ones that exist are mostly a salad of maritime movies of all periods, and I’m not interested (well, not much) into WW2 or the crimean war or whatever.

So here goes my (incomplete, I only included those I know of) list of movies, preferably with a date their action takes place and some remarks.


The Count of Monte Christo, 2002. Plays 1814 to 1838.
Goyas Ghosts, 2006. Plays around the occupation of spain by Napoleon. Very good and very depressing.
That Hamilton Woman, 1941. Haven’t seen it. Meant is, of course, Emma Hamilton, the lover of Admiral Horatio Nelson. The movie was subject to heavy censorship by the PCA and thus riddled with 1940ies US-morality-add-ons.
Scarlet Pimpernel, 1934. Gets a lot of history wrong. Like Robespierre executing people in 1792, when he actually held no office then. Costumes are cheesy, with ridiculously high collars. Quite enjoyable, in spite of the meager quality of the recording.
Scarlet Pimpernel, 1982. Haven’t seen it.
War and Peace, 1956.Haven’t seen it. A story of two families in front of a napoleonic background.
Love and Death, 1975. Haven’t seen it. A comedy which plays in czarist Russia during Napoleons time.
Swiss Family Robinson, 1960.
A family from Berne flees from Napoleon and is cast on an island as their ship wrecks.
Treasure Island, 1950. Plays in the 1760ies. Costumes are a bit cheesy. There is also a Version from 1990 which is much worse.
The Crimson Pirate, 1952. Says it plays “in the late 18th century”, but it’s a total Fantasy-movie. Nothing is historically right, or even works as it’s supposed to. Otherwise enjoyable.
Night Creatures aka “Captain Clegg”, 1962. Plays 1792 in Cornwall. A Navy-Captain is searching for the remains of the pirate Clegg. The Captains uniform is a 1795 undress uniform with a modern after-1800-cut.
Yankee Buccaneer, 1952. In 1840(!) a US Ship of the Line(!) tries to infiltrate Pirates in the Carribeans(!). Totally unbelieveable and bad.

Maritime and Naval Warfare

The Bounty, 1984. Plays 1789 aboard HMAV Bounty on her way to Thaiti and back.

Master & Commander, 2003, plays 1805 in the atlantic and pacific. Definitly and by wide margin the best of all those naval movies.

HMS Defiant, 1962. Plays 1797 at the mutiny of Spithead. Uniforms are good, only epaulettes and some swords wrong. Hairstyles less so… Culture aboard is sometimes depicted correctly (the women, for instance) sometimes not (pressed landsmen do not go aloft). The usual exploding balls. There’s some other goofs (sails set, and not set any more only seconds later), and the final “battle” is confusing and too long, but in general, the movie is very enjoyable.

Hornblower Series

This spans 1793 to somewhere after 1800. It’s quite nicely done, costume- and propwise. You’ll notice that the budget was considerably lower than that of Master & Commander, for instance the Guns don’t recoil back.

Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N., 1951. Plays in 1807. It’s actually quite true to the books, and captures Hornblowers personality a bit better than the series. From a historical perspective it’s not bad, but you’ll notice several wrong things. The uniforms for instance are the 1787-1795 pattern.

War on Land

Waterloo, 1971. Tells the story of Napoleons defeat. In my opinion, the characters don’t match, and it concentrates way too much on the psyche of Napoleon. Nice battle tough.

The Duelists, 1977. Two Hussar officers become enemies and duel themselves over the course of the napoleonic war several times. Very nicely done.

Barry Lyndon, 1975. The story starts somewhere around the seven years war 1754 and tells the rise and decline of the fortunes of said Barry Lyndon. Only the first half is about war, but contains a very nice display of a regiment.

Sharpe Series

the series spans from 1809 to 1815.

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