In search of Joséphine

A documentary by Eric Ellena

In France, Canada, Italy and the Caribbean, there is a historical icon that novelists, historians and curators all share a common passion for – a woman who died in 1814 only to become the central topic of numerous texts and literature worldwide.

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Joséphine de Beauharnais, born Rose Tascher de la Pagerie was the daughter of a penniless planter from Martinique, she was also wife to the young and fickle Viscount of Beauharnais before she became a widow at 31 years old. Afterwards, she established herself as the ideal partner for the future French Emperor Napoleon and went on to become one of the most remarkable women of her time.

The film brings us to the places where Josephine once lived and visited including the Caribbean Islands (Martinique), Italy (Milan, Venice, Garda Lake, Udine), France (Paris, Fountainebleau and Plombières) and, of course, the Chateau de Malmaison where she last resided.
We’ll rediscover the plantation ruins where Josephine grew up poor in Martinique, revisit the church where she had an arranged marriage to Beauharnais when she was only 16, reveal how she escaped the guillotine at the Carmes prison during the Reign of Terror, and unearth the secret letters she wrote to the young Hippolyte Charles who she was rumored to be having an affair with.

With the help of these passionate, eloquent and amusing authors, experts, and history buffs, the film will reconstruct the important moments of Josephine’s life, examine the influence she had on her time, untangle the truth surrounding the vast rumors regarding her character, and finally change the public’s image of her which had been long misconstrued by many 19th and 20th-century historians. Using documents, illustrations, and reenactments, we’ll explore a historic time period and finally tell the true story of an extraordinary woman who overcame her many hardships and became the first French Empress after an incredible and astonishing rise to power.


Info: FullHD, 2×52’, Italy, France, Martinique, 2012
Theme: History, Biography
Subject, Script, Direction: Eric Ellena
Cinematography: Michele Codarin
Editing: Giorgio Milocco
Producers: Marta Zaccaron, Ian Ayres
Production: Quasar Multimedia and French Connections Films
Status: in distribution
With the support of: FVG Audiovisual Film Fund, CNC and MEDIA.