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Monday, 7 October, 2002, 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK
Napoleon series angers Italian party
Actor Gerard Depardieu
Gerard Depardieu has defended the series
A television mini-series about the life of French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte has upset one of Italy's leading politicians.

Northern League leader Umberto Bossi criticised Italy's state-owned television network RAI for co-financing the series which begins on Monday.

He said the series - which comes two centuries after Napoleon declared himself king of Italy - glamorised a foreign despot.

But the star-studded cast, including Gerard Depardieu, Christian Clavier and Isabella Rossellini have spoken out to defend the production.


Perhaps Bossi would have preferred an idiot Napoleon

Gerard Depardieu

The Times newspaper quoted Mr Bossi as saying : "Napoleon occupied our land with violence that caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands.

"He looted our artistic treasures and imported the ideas of the French Revolution.

Liberal emperor

But actor Depardieu, who plays Napoleon's chief of police, said the series was an accurate portrayal of the emperor.

Napoleon
200 years on Napolean's legacy is still debated
"Our film keeps to the truth," he said.

"Perhaps Bossi would have preferred an idiot Napoleon."

The 28m series, filmed in French and English, is to be broadcast in the US as well as Europe.

Germany's ZDF network is also backing the production, along with the France 2 channel.

Christian Clavier, who plays the title role, described the figure as a humane sensitive man.

He said he was "an intellectual formed by the French revolution and the enlightenment".

"He was a true liberal", he said.

Actress Isabella Rossellini said her Josephine was true to the original.

But John Malkovich, who plays the foreign minister, has kept silent.

The mini-series written by Didier Decoin, a Bonaparte historian, draws on a bestseller by Max Gallo.

Critics are divided on the series, which received poor early reviews in Italy but was praised in France.

Also opening in Paris is a stage play, This Was Bonaparte, by producer Robert Hossein. It also presents a favourable picture of the emperor.

See also:

01 Jun 01 | Europe
01 Feb 02 | Entertainment
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