Life under Napoleon

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History Documentary hosted by David Ritchie, published by SBS in 2006 - English narration

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Image: Life-under-Napoleon-Cover.jpg

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Perfume, cognac, champagne, wax figures, busts - wherever we look, we find the French emperor's legacy. But we're not really conscious of just how much the many innovations that Napoleon introduced shape today's world. Laws, customs, machines, figures of speech; many have their roots in the Napoleonic era. From the metric system and massive road construction projects; the Louisiana Purchase to the roots of today's European legal systems. What energy, what charisma must this man have had in order to turn the centuries old structures that shaped Europe until the 18th century upside down within a matter of just a few years? Napoleon is far from dead; his myth lives on. Some worship him as a hero; others condemn him as a tyrant. These two very different views of the once all but almighty emperor are especially apparent in the countries he affected the most, among them Germany, France, England, the USA and Russia. Napoleon was a figure as full of contradiction for the time he lived in as he is for us today. How did he manage to unite the people behind him? What forces did he align himself with, what dynamics did he utilize? He made himself the ruler of France and led his people into an age of glory and prosperity. The masses follow him with delight and eagerly helped implement his innovations. But his way led over uncounted battlefields and over more than one million corpses. In four episodes we examine what life was like in Europe from 1799 until 1815, from the end of the French Revolution until Napoleon's defeat at Leipzig 1813 and Waterloo 1815. We show Napoleon's rise and fall exclusively from the point of view of the citizens of his time blacksmiths, soldiers, farmers, dissidents, housewives - first hand accounts of life changing events, based on authentic historical material, diaries, letters and court documents, and often surprising anecdotes from Napoleon's reign. These don't speak of politics and alliances but about blood and tears, tyranny and hunger, about joy and freedom. Series Director: Georg Schiemann ; A Co-Production by MDR, WDR and LOOKS Film & TV in Association with ARTE, SBS-TV Australia and Al Arabian News Channel supported by MDM and MEDIA

[edit] The Conqueror

When Napoleon's armies marched into German territory, his arrival was greeted enthusiastically by some citizens of Cologne while others were filled with dread. The Church in particular was alarmed and presciently had the treasures of Cologne Cathedral moved to a safe place. Napoleon's officials instituted wide-ranging reforms. The metric system was introduced and the power of the Church wound back. Napoleon and his revolutionary principles were widely supported until he had himself crowned emperor. The coronation so enraged Beethoven, who had initially dedicated his third symphony to Bonaparte that he scratched out the dedication in a fit of rage. He sagely prophesied that Napoleon would end up abusing the human rights he had initially aspired to defend.

[edit] The Revolutionary

The French occupation of the Rhineland provinces led to an economic boom. After a pompous coronation in Paris, Napoleon aimed for a total supremacy in Europe and at Austerlitz dealt a death blow to the Holy Roman Empire. In its place he set up the Confederation of the Rhine, a loose association of German states. The introduction of free trade enabled citizens to open their own business without restrictions.

[edit] The Overreacher

In 1806 Napoleon entered Berlin in triumph. In 1807 Napoleon made a pact with Russia and confident that affairs in Prussia were under his control, he withdrew French troops. The imposition of an economic blockade on his old enemy Great Britain had a pervasive effect. As goods became unavailable smuggling became widespread. As well as forbidden goods, new and explosive ideas circulated and the philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte promoted education as a way of ridding Prussia of foreign domination. In 1810 the Russian Tsar withdrew from his alliance with France and the two sides prepared for war.

[edit] The Fall of Napoleon

Napoleon's Russian campaign ended in bitter defeat. Obliged to replenish his forces Napoleon began a massive recruitment drive. As resistance to French rule grew in Germany spies were employed to detect the ringleaders. Ferdinande von Schmettau became a cult figure when she cut off her long golden locks to raise money for the fight against Napoleonic rule. At the Battle of the Nations the allied forces overcame Napoleon's army. After his exile to Elba, Napoleon returned once more but was finally defeated at Waterloo. A young French sympathiser tried to smuggle the deposed emperor to America in an empty cask of brandy. Napoleon instead chose exile in St Helena.

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[edit] Technical Specs

Video Codec: x264 CABAC High@L4
Video Bitrate: 2 200 Kbps
Video Resolution: 1020x574
Display Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frames Per Second: 25.000 fps
Audio Codec: AC3
Audio Bitrate: 224 kb/s CBR 48000 Hz
Audio Streams: 2
Audio Languages: english
RunTime Per Part: 52 min
Number Of Parts: 4
Part Size: 900 MB
Source: DVD
Encoded by: DocFreak08

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