Napoleon (1995 film)

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Directed by Mario Andreacchio
Produced by Michael Bourchier
Mario Andreacchio
Written by Michael Bourchier
Mario Andreacchio
Mark Saltzman
Starring Jamie Croft
Philip Quast
Music by Bill Conti
Cinematography Roger Dowling
Edited by Edward McQueen-Mason
Distributed by The Samuel Goldwyn Company
Release date
  • 26 December 1996 (1996-12-26)
Running time
81 minutes
Country Australia
Language English
Budget A$4.3 million[1]

Napoleon is a 1995 Australian family film directed by Mario Andreacchio, and written by Michael Bourchier, Mario Andreacchio and Mark Saltzman about a golden retriever puppy who runs away from his city home to be a wild dog.

Plot summary[edit]

In Sydney, Australia, a puppy named Muffin is living with a human family and his own mother. Muffin, who calls himself Napoleon and pretends to be tough, wishes to be with the wild dogs that he can hear howling in the distance. The family has a birthday party and one of the decorations is a basket with balloons strapped to it. Out of curiosity, Napoleon hops inside, but the basket, untied from its tether, begins to float away.

Napoleon flies high above the city and heads out to the sea. Napoleon panics due to a fear of water. A galah named Birdo drops down on the side of his basket and offers to help him get down. Birdo's idea of help is to pop the balloons suspending the basket, causing Napoleon to land unharmed on a beachhead. Napoleon thinks he can finally seek out the wild dogs and heads into a nearby forest, ignoring Birdo's suggestion to return home.

At night, Napoleon starts to fear being alone. A mopoke in the forest warns Napoleon of terrible things that can happen to pets in the wild, but Napoleon ignores him as well and continues on his way. He discovers a large tree used by a psychotic cat as a home. The cat spots Napoleon and, thinking he is a mouse, chases him. Napoleon escapes when the mopoke pushes the cat into a pond. The mopoke then warns Napoleon that the cat will not rest until he is dead. As Napoleon runs off, the cat pulls herself from the pond angrily swearing revenge.

The next morning, Napoleon crosses a river while passing a group of annoying rainbow lorikeet that mimic everything he says. Napoleon meets Birdo again and reveals his nickname Muffin, but is overheard by the annoying birds and a green tree frog who all begin to sing and make fun of him. Embarrassed and ridiculed, Napoleon walks out onto a log near the water when he starts drifting. Birdo persuades him to swim and successfully does so. Afterward, Birdo decides to teach Napoleon how to live in the wild.

Napoleon learns hunting by practising on a group of rabbits, but is unable to catch one and ends up eating moss. Birdo's next lessons about friendly and dangerous animals and snowy weather are ignored. Smelling sugar and thinking it to be candy, Napoleon finds a tall sugar cane field and proceeds inside. A sudden brush fire burns the sugar cane, but Napoleon escapes with Birdo's help. As the two are talking, the cat returns attempting to attack Birdo, but fails. Birdo reunites with his lost flock but the cat has found them too. Napoleon notices and saves them with a warning of the cat. Napoleon and Birdo part ways as Napoleon wants to seek the wild dogs and Birdo wants to rejoin his flock.

Napoleon sees a perentie and hears loud howling coming from it. When he speaks with it, it reveals that it makes many different noises, including the howls, leading Napoleon to believe that the howling he has been hearing was just the lizard. Napoleon is saddened. As the area begins to flood, he runs for shelter and discovers two dingo puppies inside a damp cave and assumes they are lost like him. The water floods in and sweeps away Nancy, one of the pups. Napoleon dives into the water and rescues her out. The pups' mother returns and Napoleon realises that he has found the wild dogs.

The mother agrees to let Napoleon live with her and her pups. While out together, the mother asks why Napoleon wanted to be with the wild dogs. He explains that he always wanted to feel brave by living in the wild, but confesses to being disappointed with the lifestyle. The mother comforts him by reminding him it was his courage that led him out here and helped him save her puppies, which represents the true spirit of the wild dogs. Wanting to go home, Napoleon takes a trip across the landscape in a kangaroo's pouch. Napoleon reaches the shore and discovers his basket inhabited by a feisty penguin who resembles his past self; wanting to be a wild and brave creature. That night, Napoleon readies to sail back to the city with the basket, but his plan is interrupted by the cat's return. A battle ensues and Napoleon tries multiple times to stop the cat. Before she can kill Napoleon, the cat becomes distracted by the penguin, who shouts at her with taunts. Napoleon takes advantage of the distraction and knocks the cat off a cliff and into the basket; she disappears over the waves as she is carried away in the water. Napoleon looks up to a cliff side to see an image of a wild dog howling, symbolising Napoleon's understanding his bravery of being a wild dog inside.

Napoleon, still needing a ride back to the city, is saved when Birdo reappears with a turtle who takes Napoleon back. Napoleon returns home to his mother, who consents to calling him Napoleon and no longer Muffin. After a fade-out and before the credits, the cat appears again, climbing over a wall and saying "Ahh, not a mouse, a dog... dog must die!" And after that she leaves.

Voice cast[edit]


Napoleon was the most expensive independent production to be made in South Australia at the time of production.[1] Director Mario Andreacchio was inspired to make the film after watching The Adventures of Milo and Otis with his children.[1] During the shoot, 64 different dogs played the title role.[2]


Napoleon grossed $2,051,855 at the box office in Australia[3] during 1995. In Japan, the film opened on 87 screens during late February under the name Kulta, Finnish for "gold".[1] According to Andreacchio, the Japanese public mistook the original English title for a kind of brandy.[1]

It was released on VHS in the United States, with a different dub, on 11 August 1998 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.[4]


In the US, the film received no advance screenings for critics.[5] It however received three stars out of four from the New York Daily News.[5] Despite being a financial disappointment, the film has received a cult following.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Lloyd, Paul (25 February 1995). "Seeing the big picture". The Advertiser. Nationwide News Pty Limited. 
  2. ^ Keller, Louise. "Review of Napoleon". Urban Cinefile. Retrieved 20 July 2011. 
  3. ^ Film Victoria - Australian Films at the Australian Box Office
  4. ^ "New on Video: Upcoming releases". The Vindicator. 25 June 1998. p. C5. Retrieved 26 July 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Bernard, Jami (11 October 1997). "'Napoleon' Is a Bone Apart". New York Daily News. Retrieved 19 July 2011. 

External links[edit]