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Production for Napoleon movie Kitbag set to start in Malta

Ridley Scott, the filmmaker behind classics such as Gladiator, Blade Runner and Alien, is currently working on a Napoleon Bonaparte movie called Kitbag, which is set to be filmed in Malta sometime early next year.

It’s expected that Oscar winning actor Joaquin Phoenix will star in the film, having already teamed up with Scott in Malta back in 2000, when they worked together on Gladiator, which went on to win five Academy Awards.

The film, Kitbag, was acquired by Apple Studios and is set to star Phoenix as the French emperor and military leader. Production on Kitbag should begin in early 2022 and Polish cinematographer Dariusz Adam Wolski, who is known for his work on the Pirates of the Caribbean series, posted that he was on his way to Malta to start on location scouting.

“Napoleon is a man I’ve always been fascinated by. He came out of nowhere to rule everything – but all the whole he was waging a romantic war with his adulterous wife Josephine. He conquered the world to try win her love and when he couldn’t, he conquered it to destroy her, and destroyed himself in the process,” said Ridley Scott, who is keen to take over the baton from the likes of Stanley Kubrick, who famously failed to make a Napoleon war feature film happen.

The film’s title is derived from the saying: “There is a general’s staff hidden in every soldier’s kitbag”.

Kitbag will be taking a personal look at the origins of the history giant Napoleon, and his climb to power, through the view of his love, Josephine. The film will also be portraying Napoleon’s famous battle, as well as his relentless ambition and astounding strategic mind.

Napoleon’s history with the Maltese Islands

Photo: Culture Malta

Many are aware of Napoleon’s history with the Maltese Islands, as the French invaded Malta in June 1798, as part of the Mediterranean campaign of the French revolutionary wars, making the production and filming of Kitbag in Malta all the more interesting.

The initial landings were met with some resistance from the Order of St John and the Maltese militia, but within less than a day, the French, led by Napoleon, took control of the entire Maltese archipelago, except for the well-fortified harbour area that included the capital of Valletta.

The invasion ended a 268-year long Hospitaller rule in Malta and resulted in the French occupation in Malta. A few months following the invasion, discontent due to reforms led to an uprising. This evolved into a blockade of the French garrison by Maltese insurgents, aided by British, Neapolitans and Portuguese. The blockade lasted for no less than two years and ended with the French surrendering to the British in 1800.