Baz Luhrmann May Tackle Stanley Kubrick's 'Napoleon' for Steven Spielberg and HBO

Baz Luhrmann May Tackle Stanley Kubrick's 'Napoleon' for Steven Spielberg and HBO

Nov 27, 2013

Stanley Kubrick / Napoleon

The late, great Stanley Kubrick left behind several unfinished projects when he died in 1999, including a possible sequel to Dr. Strangelove with Terry Gilliam directing (Son of Strangelove), a movie about the Holocaust (The Aryan Papers), a Civil War drama (Downslope), and the story of a Canadian priest who became a notorious bank robber (recently refashioned as a miniseries). The most intriguing, however, may have been a planned epic about Napoleon Bonaparte.

Earlier this year, Steven Spielberg announced he was developing Kubrick's screenplay, written in the 1960s, for a possible miniseries. Now, according to Deadline, Baz Luhrmann is reportedly being "courted" to helm the project for HBO. It's still very early in the process, so there's no telling when or if the miniseries will hit the air, but it's a very tantalizing possibility. Here's why.

The Screenplay: Kubrick was known for his meticulous research. He often read hundreds of books to gain a thorough understanding of his subject and the historical period involved before deciding to move forward with a project. As Alison Nastasi detailed for us back in February, Kubrick "created an entire card catalog in which he mapped out the goings-on of the French military leader's inner circle. He wanted to create a film for the ages, something that could surpass the success of his then recently completed sci-fi masterpiece 2001." Kubrick spent three years on the project, so we're positive that his script provides a great blueprint for an epic miniseries.

The Subject: As both a military and political leader, Napoleon Bonaparte provides a degree of name recognition, as well as plenty of opportunities for battle sequences, political intrigue and period splendor.

Steven Spielberg: Although Spielberg is known as a director, he has vast experience as a television producer, including two miniseries for HBO: Band of Brothers and The Pacific, with a possible third wartime miniseries on its way. Also, Spielberg will be protective of Kubrick's memory -- and the spirit of his script. Kubrick, of course, handed off A.I. Artificial Intelligence to Spielberg, which he then developed into a fascinating fusion of their sensibilities in a memorable movie. Watch the trailer below, as well as an interview in which Spielberg shares his thoughts on Kubrick. 

Baz Luhrmann: His best-known works have been his dazzling, stylish pictures (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!, The Great Gatsby), but he also made the underappreciated historical epic Australia, so chances are his sensibilities applied to a European historical epic would make a miniseries like we've never seen before.

HBO: The network is riding high with the fantasy epic Game of Thrones, which has its shares of battle scenes and political intrigue, but it will eventually come to an end, and Napoleon would fit nicely into that slot, especially as a single-season miniseries. Remember, too, that four years elapsed between the initial development of Game of Thrones and its first season premiere. So we might not see Napoleon until 2016 or 2017, which is ample time for new developments on the creative side -- like who should play the short-statured Bonaparte!

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