The stunning state rooms of Petworth House feature in Napoleon, in cinemas 22nd November 2023
The Beauty Room, Marble Hall, Carved Room, Little Dining Room and Grand Staircase all feature in scenes of the much-anticipated film, in particular the pivotal ‘Victim’s Ball’ scene where Napoleon meets Josephine for the first time. The spectacle-filled action epic that details the checkered rise and fall of the iconic Napoleon Bonaparte, played by Oscar winner Joaquin Phoenix. With it's grand state rooms, magnificent staircases and French style interiors, Petworth House was found to offer the authentic look and feel for several key moments in the film.
Rather than rely on constructed sets and CGI to set the scene, Ridley Scott and his team chose wherever possible to find real locations that could double for the palaces and stately homes that were the backdrop to Napoleon’s life. Production designer Arthur Max found many of these in the UK: “There is enough neo-classical architecture in England to make it possible, probably because a lot of the design that comes out of France and England is based on Italian classic Palladian architecture.”
Stars Joaquin Phoenix, playing Napoleon Bonaparte, and Vanessa Kirby, playing Josephine, along with other principle cast members, 120 supporting artists and 200 crew spent two days filming at the National Trust property, with the house being transformed into an authentic setting, allowing for such a large and fast-moving production - an exciting challenge for the team at Petworth! Visitor Operations and Experience Manager, Sue Rhodes explained: "While all the scenes were pre-planned with storyboards, Ridley Scott and his cinematographer Dariusz Wolski would decide where to position the camera when they were on location, which meant every corner of each room had to be ready to be on camera. It took seven days to dress the house for the two days of filming. Despite the challenges of such a huge production, it was a fascinating experience for the team. The cast and crew were incredible – so professional and very respectful of the house. Ridley Scott was particularly impressed with our art collection!".
Visitors can explore the featured locations; The Beauty Room, Marble Hall, Carved Room, Little Dining Room and Grand Staircase, as well as The Red Room and Square Dining Room which were also captured in the background of scenes, filled with dozens of extras to add depth to the frame.
Find out more about the filming of Napoleon at Petworth
Find out which rooms you can see before visit (some rooms may be closed for conservation)
Covering the Macbeth : Sue Rhodes/National Trust