Prolific filmmaker Ridley Scott is taking on another historical epic! Scott will be reuniting with Oscar winner Joaquin Phoenix for Kitbag, Deadline reports. The feature will star Phoenix as French emperor and military leader Napoleon Bonaparte. Apple Studios has committed to financing the film. Additionally, Scott and Kevin Walsh are producing for Scott Free Productions, the company created by the director and his late brother Tony Scott. David Scarpa penned the screenplay.
Now, this feature will mark Scott and Phoenix’s first project together since 2000’s Roman drama Gladiator, which starred Russell Crowe. Phoenix himself is no stranger to portraying historical icons. Back in 2005, he played musical legend Johnny Cash in Walk the Line opposite Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash. Both Phoenix and Witherspoon garnered critical praise and wowed audiences the world over.
According to Deadline, Scott has always wanted to helm a movie about Bonaparte. He also wholeheartedly believes that Phoneix is up for the challenge. The director had this to say regarding Kitbag and Phoenix’s capabilities:
Napoleon is a man I’ve always been fascinated by. He came out of nowhere to rule everything — but all the while he was waging a romantic war with his adulterous wife Josephine. He conquered the world to try to win her love, and when he couldn’t, he conquered it to destroy her, and destroyed himself in the process.
No actor could ever embody Napoleon like Joaquin. He created one of movie history’s most complex Emperors in Gladiator, and we’ll create another with his Napoleon. It’s a brilliant script written by David Scarpa, and today there’s no better partner than Apple to bring a story like this to a global audience.
Kitbag‘s title has a special meaning. It’s derived from the saying, “There is a general’s staff hidden in every soldier’s kitbag.” A kitbag is a rectangular canvas bag mostly utilized for carrying a soldier’s possessions. Kitbag will serve as an origin story for Bonaparte. It’ll pull back the veil on the military leader’s “swift, ruthless climb to emperor, viewed through the prism of his addictive and often volatile relationship with his wife and one true love, Josephine.” The objective is to shine a light on Bonaparte’s highly strategic and innovative military mind.
Kitbag is slated to start production in early 2022 in the UK.
Scott’s last historical epic was the poorly received Exodus: Gods and Kings in 2014. While Scott has delved into history throughout his storied career, his period pieces tend to leave something to be desired. With the exception of Gladiator, of course. To me, Scott’s forte is in sci-fi/fantasy. However, he has a strong working relationship with Phoenix, so perhaps this will take us all by surprise. Phoenix is a fantastic performer and will seamlessly slip under Napoleon’s skin as he does with every other character he approaches.
What do you think about Ridley Scott and Joaquin Phoenix teaming up for Kitbag? Sound off in the comments below!