SRP $49.95 1.33:1 DOLBY SURROUND A&E

A&E has released the two-part mini-series "NAPOLEON" on dvd.  While it's promoted as running 8 hours(with additional footage), it actually runs about 5 hrs 40 minutes.  While the "little General" had enough personality and accomplishments to make almost any recollection of his life seem worthwhile and entertaining, much of this mini-series is average at best.  Sure, there are some great battle scenes, and a few well-acted dramatic interchanges between some magnificent actors, but the script and Director Yves Simoneau's sluggish direction, diminish the potential for key events to build up any sort of tension or payoff. 

Having watched the excellent PBS documentary about "Napoleon" almost two years ago, it's disappointing to find the filmmakers didn't learn from it, which events in Napoleon's life, offered the possibilities of great storytelling. There are many!

A&E has provided a superb transfer for this release. Colors are rich and vibrant, complimenting the wonderful production design to the film. There's great detail in every scene. Contrast is excellent, offering deep blacks and grays. Fleshtones appear natural throughout.

A&E has provided a Dolby Digital Stereo mix, and while separation effects are minimal, there are some effective ambient effects, and the film's score is powerful, if not memorable. Dialogue is always intelligible and free from distortion.

A&E has gone far in making this a "collector's edition."  There are plenty of extras here!  The 3rd disc of this 3-disc set offers select cast biographies, as well as a featurette covering the film's production difficulties. This segment has plenty of behind-the-scenes footage.

There are also two excellent documentaries, one of which is taken from the "History Channel," offering a general but effective resume of Napoleon's life.  The 2nd featurette, about Napoleon and Wellington is so well produced and written, it's a shame the same talent wasn't used in the making of the actual mini-series.