Emmy-winning director David Grubin leads us on an epic tour of the life and times of French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, from his Corsican childhood to his banishment on a remote Mediterranean island. We learn about Bonaparte's early feelings of isolation and conflicted loyalties; his increasing sense of infallibility as his fame grew; and his unfettered passion for wife Josephine, whom he wrote to constantly, often on the verge of battle.
For a truly comprehensive view of Napoleon's rise and fall, look no further than this first-rate documentary, directed by Grubin under the auspices of PBS, and ably narrated by eminent historian and author David McCullough ("Truman"). This insightful feature runs four hours, but can readily be viewed in two installments. Its chief virtue is a keen sense of balance: a mix of drier historical commentary with exciting battle re-enactments; as well as a nuanced blending of the soldier/emperor's military fortunes with an involving perspective of the man himself. If you want to get smart on Napoleon and have fun doing it, don't miss this entry.