Marysia i Napoleon (Maria and Napoleon)(1966)




Director:     Leonard Buczkowski.

Starring:     Beata Tyszkiewicz (Maria Walewska - Marysia), Gustaw Holoubek (Napoleon Bonaparte - Napoleon Beranger), Juliusz Luszczewski (Anastazy Walewski).

Polish film;  Maria Walewska uses her sensuality to try to convince Napoleon to help liberate Poland


Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 

A man goes for a pleasant drive in the country, but first he runs into a road repair crew  working on the highway and then, when he stops to look over his maps, a herd of horses comes running around his car and he has to dash back inside his car to prevent possible injury.  He drives along with the horses surrounding him, but loses control and runs into the head around a statue on the front lawn of a huge mansion.  His rear bumper is half way off and he has a big dent on the driver's side of his car.  He sees a huge mansion before him.  He just goes right in as if he owned the place.  He looks around and finds a woman dressing herself.  She shouts for him to get out and he excuses himself for the interruption. He gets lost in the mansion and starts looking around.  He sees the Maria Walewski and Napoleon paintings on the wall of one room. 

A tour guide comes by and the stranger asks if this is a portrait of Maria Walewski?  Yes.  The guide asks if the fellow is Polish and the guy says no, he's French.  Then the guide asks if that's his car outside?  Yes.  The guide now notices a resemblance of the man to the portrait of Napoleon.  The guide goes to get help from the boss and from two other tourist guides.  They come back to the room where the Frenchman was, but don't see him.  He is sitting in a chair with his back to the guides.  Two pretty women come into the room and walk right passed the chair and they start laughing.  The boss asks what they are laughing about and the taller woman says that the rumor is that they have lost a Frenchman in the mansion.  The Frenchman now looks at the two women more closely and notices that the taller one looks like the portrait of Madam Walewski.  He takes an even closer look and all the people are dressed in period clothing of the Napoleonic era.  He tells the chamberlain that he shouldn't reproach the women so.  The Chamberlain is irritated by this and asks who is this man?  He says he is Napoleon Belange.  One of the men starts laughing loudly.  Napoleon?  In Walewice (which is 397 km/247 miles from Warsaw)?  The chamberlain asks Miszel, where is the real Napoleon?  He says in the Posen area.  Napoleon Belange asks where is Napoleon fighting?  In the Posen area.

The scene changes to Napoleon Belange as the real Napoleon on his horse watching the battle.  Duroc looks through the telescope and says that they have torn the enemy apart!  So Napoleon decides to head for Warsaw.  He asks Duroc to let him know if she spots any really good looking women. 

Back at the mansion the elderly chamberlain (Maria's husband, Anastazy Colonna-Walewski, was chamberlain to King Stanislaus Augustus Poniatowski).  Anastazy tells Maria that she's not ready for her journey.  She will be going into Warsaw.  The maid assists Maria in getting ready.  She sees Porajski coming back to the mansion on a horse.

Maria goes downstairs and her husband asks where is she going?  He has forgotten about their trip to Warsaw.  She says that's good because she didn't want to go to Warsaw anyway. 

Husband and wife ride in a carriage.  Suddenly Napoleon's carriage comes up behind Maria's carriage.  One of Napoleon's guards rides up to the other driver to tell him to move to the right and let their carriage get passed him.  The driver of Napoleon's carriage tries to pass on the right and the coaches bump into each other.  The old man asks why they stopped and learns it's because of the Emperor Napoleon.  The old man says:  "Napoleon?  Oh, that's a bad sign.  Let's get back to Walewice."  The military now arrest the errant coach driver.  Maria protests and then goes to see Napoleon in the other coach.  Napoleon asks for her name and she says Maria Walewski.  The emperor says there sure are some pretty flowers blooming amidst the snow. 

Outside the mansion, Napoleon Belange speaks to the woman who looks like so much like Maria Walewski in the portrait.  In fact, they both realize that the other looks like Napoleon or Maria.  Belange is impressed by the fact that Maria Walewski lived in this mansion.  Then he imagines that Napoleon would walk with her on the grounds of the mansion.  But Maria says that Napoleon was never actually at the mansion.  Belange asks:  "Could I possibly be his substitute?"  She says he's a little late because Napoleon was in Poland 160 years ago.

Belange says he's late.  He takes the guide for a little drive.  He says he's late because of her, Madam Walewski.  He is late for his meeting with the convent of Polish philologists in Warsaw.  (Philology is the study of language in written historical sources.)  He says in France he teaches Polish.  He gets a little too fresh with the young woman and she tells him to pull over.  She then runs for the bus and gets on.  He asks where will he find her and she says at the Department of History at Warsaw University.  Belange says:  "Josephine did warn us against Polish ladies." 

The emperor leaves in his carriage.  A soldier recognizes Maria and the two hug each other.  They are brother and sister.  He says he is headed for Gdansk to Gen. Dabrowski.  It's a short reunion because Maria's husband wants to keep on going. 

The valet Miszel tells the old man that it's time for him to get dressed.  His sister is expecting him to celebrate New Years.  The old man asks where are they?  Varsovie (Warsaw.)  The maid tells Maria that Mr. Porajski is here.  Porajski comes in.  He is really taken with Maria's beauty.  Maria and Porajski go into the room and the forgetful  husband tells Porajski to go back and tell everyone that the chamberlain is sick.  Everyone leaves the room except for the chamberlain.  Miszel comes in to announce the visit of Monsieur de Talleyrand Pearigour, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs.  It takes awhile for the chamberlain to realize that the Talleyrand is waiting to see him.  He blames Miszel for the delay in receiving Talleyrand. 

The chamberlain warmly welcomes Talleyrand who tells his host that the French will stay awhile longer in Poland to help straighten Poland out after the Prussian and Russian rule.  Talleyrand tells the chamberlain to remain in Warsaw because the chamberlain must remain at his post.  Emperor Napoleon himself was inquiring about the chamberlain.  Moreover, the emperor invites the chamberlain to a ball tomorrow.  Maria comes into the room and her husband introduces her to Talleyrand, who invites her to the ball.  Maria says she is sick and fears that tomorrow she will be even sicker.  But her husband assures Talleyrand that Maria and he will be at the ball. 

After Talleyrand leaves, Maria gets scolded by her husband for being difficult.  He says she just doesn't understand that her husband is getting back into state politics and this ball is important for his future. 

Maria receives a lot of flowers.  Her husband grabs the note, reads it and then tells Maria that Marshall Duroc is announcing his visit.  The husband now goes to lay down to rest.  The sister-in-law comes in to speak with Maria.  She is excited because she heard that Talleyrand paid Maria a visit.  She asks about the flowers and Maria tells her that it's from Duroc.  The sister-in-law is very impressed.  She looks over the flowers and finds a note.  She reads the note to Maria from "N" (Napoleon).  The note just says that he has repeated her name so many times that he knows it by heart.  Sister-in-law says:  "Naughty girl!"  Miszel announces the visit of Duroc. 

Maria thinks Duroc is pulling a prank on her, but when he assures Maria that the note was from the emperor, she starts to swoon.  The husband comes in and, believing that the chamberlain knows about the letter, he does some fancy foot-stepping to avoid any scandal.  The husband, however, doesn't really know what's going on.  Duroc insists on one thing:  both the chamberlain and his wife must attend the ball.  He explains that it's a matter of etiquette.  Nevertheless, Maria insists that she is not going to the ball. 

The Walewskis are late to the ball.  This has Duroc very worried and Talleyrand concerned.  Napoleon is impatiently waiting for the arrival of Maria. 

Napoleon comes out after learning that the Walewskis are here.  He quickly goes down the reception line and stops before Maria.  Napoleon says he appoints the Polish chamberlain to be his own chamberlain.  He asks the man how old he is and he mumbles the figure.  Napoleon says he's been told that he is 86.  Napoleon is happy that he sees Maria again.

Napoleon Belange tells the guide Maria that he is so happy to find her again.  She is hanging out with young people who are her own age.  One of the guys asks why Belange is here?  Belange says he's here for a dance with Maria.  The guy says Maria doesn't dance with strangers.  Belange tells him not to worry for he and Maria have known each other for 160 years.  Maria corrects the figure to 158 years.  Maria goes and dances with Belange.  Another young fellow says he's going to bring that Frenchman down.  He cuts in on the Frenchman and dances with Maria. 

A French officer named Mortier asks to dance with Maria.  The real Napoleon sees this and tells Duroc:  "To Silesia with orders for Mortier.  Right away!"  Duroc immediately marches over to Mortier and tells him he has orders to go to Silesia.  Now.  Mortier leaves.  Another officer comes over to Maria to ask her to dance and Napoleon sends him to Gdansk.  The officer leaves.  Now Duroc asks to dance with Maria.  Napoleon dances with a woman name Annette. 

In the dance partners are exchanged and Napoleon dances with Maria.  He says he has eyes only for her.  When he's back with Annette, he tells her he has a wife in Paris.  When the dance breaks off, Porajski speaks with Maria.  Napoleon tells Duroc to send the man to Posen.  Duroc says the fellow is a civilian.  Then have the man arrested!  Napoleon goes back to his room.  Two men tell Porajski to come with them.  

In the morning the maid awakens Maria with the news that the French have arrested Mr. Porajski.  Downstairs sister-in-law speaks with Anastazy and warns him not to be dragged into any political machinations.  Speak only with the emperor.  She then suggests that he sneak out of the salon. 

Maria speaks with Duroc asking him why Mr. Porajski was arrested?  Duroc says he will handle the matter immediately.  He has Maria sit down with some other women.  They start asking her about choosing a Frenchman.  She says she's married and can't do such a thing.  Annette laughs at her and says that as a married woman she is free to enjoy full liberties.  Maria says she can't do that.  Maria starts making a joke out of the situation, but the women take her seriously.  Now she has to tell them that she was just joking.  One of the women says that's a great shame because such an alliance with Napoleon could really help poor Poland.  This is an angle that Maria has never considered.  She could be of service to her motherland. 

Flowers come for Maria and now it's as if she has a new attitude.  She tells Miszel to have the flowers taken to her room.  She takes the note that came with the flowers, excuses herself and goes up to her room.  Her sister-in-law follows her.  She also tells Maria that she could indeed help Poland.  Sister-in-law gets a little risqué with Maria and she gets mad.  She tells the maid to wrap up the jewels she received and send them along with the flowers back to the castle!  Sister-in-law can't believe it.  She asks:  "Are you crazy?"  Maria says:  "Yes!"  Duroc sees Miszel and two small boys going outside with the gifts and he gets very concerned about this. The people in the salon seem dumb-founded at this. 

A countess goes up to Maria's room and directly asks her:  "How was it possible that you turned down the emperor himself!?"  The woman doesn't blame Maria, but she does ask her to think sometimes about the possible consequences.  Maria asks if this is about the motherland?  The woman says:  "Precisely." 

Maria gets another note from Napoleon, and this time he himself mentions the benefits to her country.  He writes:  "Your motherland will be dearer to me, if you show mercy for my poor heart." 

Maria talks to her husband about Napoleon, but it's not clear at what does he get mad?  Is it over her or his getting a good promotion for his grandson? 

The door is open, so Napoleon walks on into the mansion where Maria is staying.  In the semi-dark he bumps into the parrot cage which starts the parrot screeching and then he bumps into the clothes manikin.  After that, he steps on the cat's tail.  He walks into a room where the maid is sitting.  The maid doesn't recognize him and treats him like a thief in the night.  He finally tells her he is Napoleon Bonaparte and the maid just laughs at him.  She now wonders if this man is not a bit crazy.  So, she plays along with him.  She says she is Madam Walewski.  Napoleon asks for permission to sit and the maid gives him permission. 

Maria comes out to see what all the laughing and talking is about.  She looks shocked to see the emperor sitting with her maid.  He quickly arises from his seat and tells Maria that he loves her. 

Napoleon Belange speaks with Maria.  She laughs at his version of the love story of Napoleon and Maria.  He tries to kiss Maria but she pulls back from him.  She goes inside and then he goes inside and yells to Maria that if she doesn't come to him tomorrow night, he will leave for France.

Duroc asks Maria for an answer but she will not give one.  Duroc says they will be expecting her tomorrow night.  As Duroc leaves, he indicates to the sister-in-law that Maria is not cooperating.  She goes to Maria and tells her that her husband wants to speak with her.  Her husband says that he has heard that Maria is moody again.  He tells her they were invited to go and go they shall.  Maria tells her she was the only one invited, and her sister-in-law intervenes to help soothe the husband.  She says this is an important political matter for Maria.  He says he won't permit this.  Maria says she wasn't going anyway.  Now sister-in-law intervenes again asking her brother if he is going to put up with this impudent attitude from his wife.  He says he won't allow it and sends her off to the castle. 

Talleyrand arrives again and again he tells Anastazy that the emperor mentioned his name. With Talleyrand has come the whole social set of wealthy and influential people.  They are all in ton he plot to get Maria into bed with Napoleon.  One man calls Maria selfish and stubborn.  One of the women goes over to the handsome prince and asks him to talk with Maria because as another lady says:  "No one has a way with women like you, prince."  The prince goes to get Maria.  The prince returns saying that Maria is absent. 

But she's still there.  The countess tells Maria her to go down to the salon.  Maria comes into a room with influential and powerful men, all old enough to be her father or grandfather.  A Polish statesman tells her that of all the beautiful women in Poland, she is the one who has a special duty to perform "to a man who has our fate in his hands."  The emperor of Europe has chosen her and she is to . . ."  Here Duroc hesitates and Maria helps him out by saying:  "I understand.  I'm prepared to do it."  The statesman is relieved.  Now he tells her when Napoleon takes her in his arms, she is to ask him about the fate of Poland. 

The countess and Maria go to see the emperor.  The officer of the guard escorts them to a room and asks them to wait here.  Mr. Constante, the emperor's trusted butler, will receive them.  The butler comes in and Maria is still a bit feisty.  Mr. Constante asks Maria to come with him and for the countess to wait for her.  Napoleon seems to be in a bad mood.  He yells at Constante and then he yells and throws Duroc out of his room.  Duroc tells Maria that her host is not in the best of moods.  He then in private asks Constante what he thinks?  The butler says this will not take long because the emperor "is incapable of true feelings."

Maria gets upset at waiting and decides just to go in to see the emperor.  Napoleon starts to ball out whoever has entered his room, but he stops when he realizes it's the beautiful Maria.  He tells her to sit down!  He repeats the request.  She starts to get up and Napoleon tells her again to sit.  He finishes his work.  He walks around impatiently and then tells Maria that he is overworked.  He tells her to blow out four of the five candles. A messenger knocks and Napoleon tells him to come in.  Now he has to have the candles relit to see the letters he just received from Paris. 

Maria re-lights the candles and then Napoleon tells her to extinguish the candles.  He comes over to her and she swoons.  She recovers enough and says to him that she has to ask him what about Poland?  He tells her to be quiet because:  "I love you."  They kiss.

Maria with Napoleon Belange tells him to think of something new.  Think of a different ending for the story.  But Napoleon Belange doesn't want to change the story.  He tells Maria:  "I love you."  She doesn't pay much attention to him.  Then she goes over to see a young fellow she knows.  Belange sits on a bench in the art gallery and asks himself:  "What's she doing to me?  What am I supposed to do?"  He hears from another Napoleon painting:  "Discipline!"   Napoleon tells Belange to follow his example.  He says he was a man women went crazy for.  Napoleon gets exasperated with Belange and tells him he is not going to speak to Belange again.  Belange says:  "Good riddance!  It is going to work somehow."  When Maria comes over to Belange he shows her that he is still jealous and he starts to leave her.  The portrait Napoleon tells him to stop and go back!  Belange goes back and sits on the bench with Maria.

The maid speaks with Maria the next morning.  Maria says she loves Napoleon.  The maid says that she is sure that Napoleon wants a son and maybe Maria can be the one to provide him with offspring.  Maria says shame on her for suggesting such a thing.  Napoleon comes into the room and the maid leaves.  He kisses Maria good morning. 

Maria's brother arrives in town  He stops for a bite to eat and hears French officers wondering what Napoleon sees in this Madam Walewski.  She is beautiful.  Her brother is offended by this and he challenges the speaker, Krzysztof, to a duel.  The brother manages to flip the sword out of Kryzysztof's hand.  A buddy throws Kryzysztof his sword.  As they are about to go back to sword fighting, an officer, Porajski, comes in and demands that this duel cease.  Another officer tells Kryzysztof to leave.  He leaves.  One of the other officers talking about Maria apologizes to her brother saying they did not know who he was.  Now the brother demands to know from his friend what does all this mean?  His friend tells him to cool down and then he will tell him what's been happening.

Napoleon and Maria play cards together.  She tells him that she saw the military parade today.  Napoleon gets excited and asks what she thought of his riders?  Maria replies that she was only looking at Napoleon and he looked grand.  Napoleon loses at card and he's not a good loser.  Maria laughs at him and he chases her around the table.  She runs into the other room where she lets Napoleon catch her.  All of a sudden Napoleon sees two men in the room.  He is mad at them for being there and demands to know why are they just standing there like that?  The two men don't say anything.  Maria tells Napoleon that one of the men is her brother and the other is a Polish officer (Porajski).  Napoleon calls for Constante and demands to know:  "Who dared to let them in here?"  Lt. Gerard is on duty, says the butler.  Napoleon gives the order to have the lieutenant arrested.   Then he tells Constante to take the Polish officer, degrade him and then discipline him!  Maria begs him not to do this.  So he promotes Porajski to captain and tells him he is being sent to the front.  Maria thanks Napoleon for doing this for her. Napoleon leaves the room. 

Maria says:  "Forgive me, Pawel."  And Pawel says:  "So this is how I became a colonel?"  She tells him:  "I serve my country." 

Pawel tells Porajski that Maria loves this Napoleon and she serves her country.  They both agree that they can't do anything about it. 

Napoleon holds the wool yarn for Maria.  The butler comes in to announce that the envoys of the Prussian king have arrived.  Queen Ludwiga is among them. 

Maria tells Belange that he must have made a mistake.  Queen Ludwiga was there, but not in Ostroda  --  in Tylza. 

The real Napoleon tells Queen Ludwiga that he demands unconditional surrender from the Prussians.  He says:  "I want the fate of the Prussian kingdom to be in my hands."  The queen makes a pass at Napoleon and he says he hopes she will stay at least another day.  Talleyrand tells Napoleon:  "Send her back to her husband or we shall lose this war."  Napoleon dismisses this concern by saying that his soldiers have already won the war. 

Napoleon tells Maria that he is going to give her the Principality of Warsaw.  She tries to negotiate with him.  She asks:  "Poland without Cracow?  Impossible!"  She starts feeling glum and he consoles her by saying:  "It's okay.  I'll give you whatever I can."  Maria now tells him that she is pregnant with his child. 

Belange says that's not right.  The child was not born until three years later.  Maria says the conversation took place in the Sherbrun Palace after the capitulation of Austria in 1809. 

Maria asks Napoleon what will be the name of their child?  Count Walewski.  And what about her name?  That's to decide later. 

Maria has a boy.  The child plays outside with Anastazy.   Maria's sister-in-law encourages her to go to Paris and let Napoleon see his son.  Maria says she can't right now because Poland needs her.  The Polish politicians constantly ask Maria what are the emperor's plans for Poland?  They encourage her to keep asking for more territory for Poland.  She says that if Napoleon strikes to the east, they may get some of their old eastern provinces back.  She tells the gentlemen that she will do what she can for Poland.  They are grateful to her. 

The maid comes busting in saying that soldiers are coming and Mr. Porajski, who she really likes, is leading them.  He comes in to tell Maria and the others that the French are moving east to attack Russia!  The people in the room are happy to hear about this.  And Napoleon will be here soon. 

The maid comes in later to tell Maria that Napoleon went straight on from Lowicz to Russia, rather than stop here. This saddens Maria. 

Maria is still playing hard to get with Belange.  She acts as if she is indifferent to him.  He tells her that this story of Napoleon is not over yet.  Maria says she wanted to spare him the sad details of what comes next, but if he insists, they will proceed with the story.  There was a terrible defeat for Napoleon and his cold return from Moscow.  And then there was another defeat.  Story over!  Belange yells out:  "Let's have fun, girls, to spite that morose lady."  One of the young men tells Belange that he wants a word with him.  They leave the cafe.  Maria asks the fellow she is dancing with where are they going?  He says he doesn't know. 

When the two fellows return they are both stinking drunk.  And they are both terribly dirty as if they had been tussling around on the ground.  Belange goes to Maria and says:  "Back from Moscow.  Terrible defeat!"  Then he collapses. 

When Belange wakes up he is on a couch in the mansion.  And he has a terrible headache from the hangover.  He looks out the window and sees his car still where he left it.  He turns to Napoleon's portrait and asks him what is happening to me?  He hears someone coming so he goes back to lay on the couch.  Maria comes back with the boss and Miszel.  The boss is Maria's uncle.  He asks if Belange ran into their garden again?  Maria says it was her who crashed the car this time.  Uncle asks:  "Did he teach you that?"  She says:  "I think so."  He complains about the Frenchman until Maria says that she loves this drunk.  Uncle asks if she's crazy and she shakes her head no.  Uncle leaves saying he's got his own problems. 

Now Belange jumps off the couch and hugs Maria.  Again she tries to act as if she hates this drunk.  The portrait of Napoleon cheers Belange on, saying that France will be proud of him.  Belange replies:  "Why France?  You're enough for me."  Maria asks Belange who he is talking to?  She turns around and sees the portrait of Napoleon.  She understands.  They kiss. 


A charming comedy that is also an historical film.  It follows a growing love between a woman named Maria and a man named Napoleon.  They both have a great interest in the French emperor Napoleon and they discuss Napoleon's history as regards Poland.  This love story is interwoven with the love story between the real Maria Walewski and Napoleon Bonaparte.  So, although the historical love story did not end well for Maria and Napoleon, Maria and Napoleon Belange have a much more encouraging future.  Beata Tyszkiewicz played both roles of Maria Walewska and Marysia, while Gustaw Holoubek played both roles of Napoleon Bonaparte and Napoleon Berange.  They both did very well.  The various funny situations, especially as regards Maria's husband who seems to have some form of dementia, are so ludicrous that they are funny.  I enjoyed the film.  I did notice that the film almost made Maria Walewski out to be a saint.  In other words, the whole of Poland virtually had to convince her to be with Napoleon against her will, so that she could help poor Poland in its hour of need.  That is certainly different from the other films about Maria. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


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