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Epic Battles Trade Off With Romantic Sparring in Dariusz Wolski’s ‘Napoleon’ Camerawork

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Will Tizard Contributor Recreating epic battle scenes was just part of the challenge in filming “Napoleon” with director Ridley Scott, says Polish-born cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, who screened the grand-scale biopic at the Camerimage cinematography festival in Poland on Friday.

Getting the realism needed to capture the vast brutality of the Battle of Austerlitz or Waterloo, says Wolski, depends on exhaustive planning and coordination, of course, but also some impressive juggling. “You’re basically creating a huge event.

You have army personnel, you have extras trained to behave like soldiers from the 19th century, you have horse people, then we have armor, you have professional effects people, explosions, then you have main characters.

You basically design the whole battle.” Keeping track of all of these would be a challenge for even an experienced director, Wolski notes, but in Scott’s case, he actually films them all at once – while also ensuring he gets every shot and angle needed for the scene. “He’s basically editing as he’s filming,” said Wolski, with eight or more cameras filming battles simultaneously, all monitored at the same time.

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