Interesting, pro-German take on the Napoleonic Wars
Quite an interesting movie, though I saw it without the benefit of a musical score, making it all too easy to riff. My husband is a big Napoleon fan, and was continually exclaiming that the extremely pro-German slant of the film was completely contrary to the actual history. But he did admit that it hit a lot of historical plot points correctly, only in a rearranged order, or with some compression of time, which is not unusual in a movie. The Battle of Ligny in particular is not often portrayed on film. One problem with the movie is the question of time; it's almost impossible to know how much time is elapsing between events. We go from the Congress of Vienna to Napoleon on Elba, to Napoleon returning to France, to a panicky call- up of allied forces, to scenes of Napoleon advancing through France (entirely on foot, it appears). How long did all this take? A week? Three months? We're never told. I suppose that the original audience must have learned this history in school, and it wasn't thought necessary to spell out the details, just as a modern American film assumes that the audience has some knowledge of American geography, and doesn't find it necessary to explicitly state the distance between, say, Washington and New York. It's just assumed that the audience will roughly know where they are on the map.
Naturally, the real hero of the story is the Prussian commander, Blucher. Napoleon is a menacing, though intermittent, presence in the first half hour, and then disappears entirely for the next hour. Wellington has even less screen time until we get to the actual battle of Waterloo, and despite his nickname of "The Iron Duke", we see him on the verge of cracking under the pressure until a message from Blucher FINALLY makes it to him, and steels him to hold out until rescue comes. The scenes of the Prussians creeping through the woods towards the battlefield remind me of "Siegfried" - the Germans really did love those shots of tall trees with shafts of hazy light slanting down; it's only proper that this image should be evoked again to portray another German hero.
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