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Napoleon: NI Producer Mark Huffam Hails ‘Fantastic Challenge’ of Film

A film producer from Northern Ireland has described his involvement in the new Napoleon movie as a “fantastic challenge”.

Mark Huffam has been reunited with acclaimed director Ridley Scott for the epic about the French emperor.

Although he has previously worked on the likes of Saving Private Ryan and The Martian, Mark says this is the biggest film he has undertaken.

Featuring Joaquin Phoenix in the lead role, Napoleon was shot in 61 days and involved 500 extras, a huge crew and multiple cannon.

“Lots of cannon, lots of extras, lots of horses, lots of everything,” Mark tells BBC News NI.

“Joaquin is a totally fabulous actor and I think for him to take on the role of Napoleon was a huge challenge but he has done the role masterfully.

“The film follows his career from being a young artillery officer right to the very end of the story.

“He had a meteoric rise, he very quickly became a general and then from a general he went on to become an emperor.

“He did a lot of good and he also did a lot of bad.”

‘It’s a cinematic adventure’

Napoleon sees Marie Antoinette die at the guillotine and the firing of a cannonball at the Sphinx.

The artistic licence of the film has annoyed some historians but Mark defends the flexibility displayed in its creation.

“We never set out to make a documentary,” explains the producer, who’s originally from Ballyclare in County Antrim.

“It was always going to be a cinematic adventure so we have followed the facts maybe not quite to the letter of the law.

“We brought an historical adviser on from very early days but, even when you talk to the historical advisers, everybody who is an expert on Napoleon doesn’t necessarily agree with the other experts on Napoleon.”

Seeing Star Wars in Banbridge

Mark will answer questions at a preview screening of Napoleon at the Strand Arts Centre in east Belfast on Wednesday evening.

He recalls how watching films at cinemas in Northern Ireland fired his imagination as a youngster.

“That was our big treat when we were children. The one that sticks in my mind is going from Templepatrick to Banbridge to watch Star Wars for the very first time on the big screen.

“If there was any reason why I am in the film industry I would say it was that trip to the cinema.

“It is just as enjoyable now as it was then and I think to protect and maintain the cinemas that we do have is a very important thing.

“The Strand has got a place in my heart because I have been going for years.”

Source : BBC