After defeating France and imprisoning Napoleon on Elba, ending two decades of war, Europe is shocked to find Napoleon has escaped and has caused the French Army to defect from the King back to him. The best of the British generals, the Duke of Wellington, beat Napolean's best generals in Spain and Portugal, but has never faced Napoleon. Wellington stands between Napoleon with a makeshift Anglo-Allied army and the Prussians. A Napoleon victory will plunge Europe back into a long term war. An allied victory could bring long term peace to Europe. The two meet at Waterloo where the fate of Europe will be decided. Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Soldiers of the Red Army were used as extras to portray the British army. They panicked repeatedly and scattered during the filming of some of the cavalry charges. Attempts to reassure them by marking the closest approach of the horses with white tape similarly failed, and the scene was cut. See more »
At the opening of the campaign (just after Napoleon's "God's got nothing to do with it" comment), French troops are seen marching down the road and across the fields. Troops did not march-in-step while on the move across country. It was too tiring and inefficient. Route step (aka route march) was used instead, in which the troops remained in a loose formation but did not match their steps. See more »
Mama, Iggy has promised to bring me a cuirrasier's helmet to use as a work basket; without blood it Mama.
Duchess of Richmond:
And one for me, young man - *with* the blood.
Sir William Ponsonby:
And where do you plan to stick your Frenchman, Hay?
Lord Richard Hay:
I thought under the right arm, sir.
See? He has it all planned.
General Sir Thomas Picton:
When you meet a cuirrasier beam to beam, you'll be lucky if you bring away your life with you nevermind his helmet. Boy, you'll learn the art of fighting from the French.
See more »
The battle of Waterloo gets superb treatment in this spectacular. The cast is extremely well chosen. Rod Steiger embodies Napoleon, and Christopher Plummer is everyone's idea of Wellington. The battle itself, which takes up most of the movie, is also well done. I can't attest to its accuracy, not being a Napoleonic scholar, but at every point of the battle you know what's going on. And though every famous line from Napoleon, Wellington and Blucher worms its way into the movie, they never seem out of place.
All in all, it would stand with the greatest war movies ever made, and certainly a necessary part of anyone's historical education, except for some very peculiar choices in editing. Sometimes these are done just to give the epic story a different look from, say, a David Lean film. 1970 was right in the middle of often detestable and embarrassingly dated experimentation with the look of mainstream films (see "The Thomas Crown Affair" for an example of just how poor the thirty-year-old "cutting edge" can look these days). At other moments, the editing simply looks poor, with abrupt cuts. And what's with the slo-mo in the charge of the Scots Grays? Every effort was made to make the movie look like famous Napoleonic paintings, and that charge is one of the most famous paintings in military history. But it's just another poorly done moment of experimentation.
Overall, the movie is first-class. The cast is solid, the script is good, the production values are first-rate, and there's even some tension, even though we know what happened to Napoleon in the end. But what should be one of the great epic films of all times doesn't seem, in the end, to add up to the sum of its parts. Nevertheless, it's a must for history buffs.
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