Cary Fukunaga may direct Kubrick passion project NAPOLEON

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It takes a brave director to step into the shoes of the great Stanley Kubrick – especially to take on an idea that was considered a passion project of his. It’s a task which not too many directors have been keen on. Steven Spielberg did it with AI, and even he had mixed results. But now another contender has entered the fray.

Since 2013, Spielberg (wearing his producer’s cap this time) has also been trying to bring Kubrick’s dream of a big budget Napoleon biopic to HBO in the form of a mini-series focusing on the famed French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Director Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge, The Great Gatsby) was initially rumoured to be interested in the project, but nothing came of that. Now Flippo Ulivieri, author of Stanley Kubrick and Me, has posted a story on his Tumblr page of the director who is possibly taking over the reins. That director is Cary Fukunaga, the man behind the fantastic first season of HBO’s True Detective and the powerful Beasts of No Nation.

Cary Fukunaga ,by Daniel Bergeron. Indiewire 2015. No PR/No Release on file.

Ulivieri’s story reports that the news came from a Stanley Kubrick retrospective which was held at De Montfort University in Leicester, England. Kubrick’s brother-in-law and executive producer, Jan Harland (The Shining, Eyes Wide Shut), was in attendance and it was he who revealed that Fukunaga would direct the planned six-hour miniseries. He also revealed that David Leland (Mona Lisa) wrote the most recent draft of the script. Outside of this news, not much else is known about the story and which aspect of it was so exciting to Kubrick.

We do know that Kubrick did tons of meticulous research into the life of Napoleon, scouted plenty of locations and even got the Romanian army to commit 40,000 soldiers and 10,000 cavalrymen to be used in the film’s planned epic battle scenes. The project eventually fell apart though precisely because its scope became a bit too big – and thus expensive – but at the time, Kubrick declared that it would have been his greatest work ever.

That certainly is a tall order to follow, but now that we’re seemingly starting to get a script and director in place, we are likely to see progress on the production of the project and start seeing cast announcements and other details being revealed soon.

Fukunaga has been an in-demand director since helming the entire first season of True Detective. During the series he was able to showcase a unique eye for detail and wasn’t afraid to let the camera drive the story for him, on top of evoking really strong performances of his leads. This project will be something entirely different in tone to the gritty True Detective, but no doubt with Spielberg’s guidance it could be a potential big series for HBO.

Last Updated: May 26, 2016

Craig Risi

A man of many talents, but no sense how to use them. I could be discovering the cure for aids or finding ways to achieve world peace, but I'd rather be watching movies and writing here instead.

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