Historian Sir Simon Schama and FT deputy arts editor and film expert Raph Abraham join Lilah to discuss the historical epic ‘Napoleon’. Ridley Scott’s new two-and-a-half-hour-long film stars Joaquin Phoenix, and documents a lot: Napoleon’s rise and fall, some of his most famous battles, and his relationship with his wife, Josephine. But how well does it represent his character? We discuss what the film got right and wrong (historically and dramatically), why Napoleon continues to loom so large in culture, and whether historical epics still satisfy us.


We are still collecting your cultural predictions for 2024! What’s one thing you think will happen (or want to happen) in culture next year? Write us. You can email us at lifeandart@ft.com or message Lilah on Instagram @lilahrap.


Links (all FT links get you past the paywall):

– Simon’s FT Weekend essay on Napoleon, and why so many writers and filmmakers try to depict him: https://on-ft-com.ezproxy.cul.columbia.edu/4861gbn

– the FT’s official review of Napoleon by Danny Leigh: https://on-ft-com.ezproxy.cul.columbia.edu/484moPh

– An essay from Janan Ganesh on why Napoleon still matters: https://on-ft-com.ezproxy.cul.columbia.edu/3uWF8Sj

– Simon recommends the 2012 movie ‘Lincoln’, directed by Steven Spielberg

– Raph is a fan of Pablo Larrain’s ‘Jackie,’ from 2016, and the Leonard Bernstein biopic ‘Maestro’, directed by Bradley Cooper and available on Netflix on December 20

– We interviewed Pablo Larrain in 2021 about his creative process: https://on-ft-com.ezproxy.cul.columbia.edu/3oofjVO

– Lilah wrote a column about learning to draw: https://on-ft-com.ezproxy.cul.columbia.edu/46NBaZt

– Simon is on X @simon_schama


Special FT subscription offers for Life and Art podcast listeners, from 50% off a digital subscription to a $1/£1/€1 trial, are here: http://ft.com.ezproxy.cul.columbia.edu/lifeandart


Original music by Metaphor Music. Mixing and sound design by Breen Turner.

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