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Waterloo (1970)

Facing the decline of everything he has worked to obtain, conqueror Napoleon Bonaparte and his army confront the British at the Battle of Waterloo.

Director:

Sergey Bondarchuk (as Sergei Bondarchuk)

Writers:

H.A.L. Craig (story and screenplay), Sergey Bondarchuk (screenplay collaboration) (as Sergei Bondarchuk) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Won 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Rod Steiger ... Napoleon Bonaparte
Christopher Plummer ... Arthur Wellesley - Duke of Wellington
Orson Welles ... Louis XVIII
Jack Hawkins ... Gen. Sir Thomas Picton
Virginia McKenna ... Duchess of Richmond
Dan O'Herlihy ... Marshal Michel Ney
Rupert Davies ... Gordon
Philippe Forquet ... La Bedoyere
Gianni Garko ... Drouot
Ivo Garrani Ivo Garrani ... Soult
Ian Ogilvy ... De Lancey
Michael Wilding ... Ponsonby
Sergo Zakariadze Sergo Zakariadze ... Blucher (as Serghej Zakhariadze)
Terence Alexander ... Uxbridge
Andrea Checchi ... Sauret
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Storyline

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 <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Waterloo. The battle that changed the face of the world. See more »


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Italy | Soviet Union

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 October 1970 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Battle of Waterloo See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono | 70 mm 6-Track (Westrex Recording System) (70 mm prints)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A title card on the movie's English language trailer stated that this picture was "a film that will never be equaled for its spectacle and dramatic power". See more »

Goofs

When the Allied cavalry are being run down by Napoleon's lancers and the cry goes out "Back, get back! Sound the recall!", one of the cavalrymen's trousers split and blue underwear can be seen. See more »

Quotes

Napoleon Bonaparte: When I am dead and gone what will the world say of me?
Le Bedoyere: They'll say that you extended the limits of glory, sire.
Napoleon Bonaparte: The limits of glory'; is that all I have to leave to my son, the 'limits of glory'?
See more »

Alternate Versions

All UK video and DVD releases are cut by 22 secs to remove horse falls. The B.B.F.C have cut 'Waterloo' in accordance with their policy of censoring scenes showing actual (or what appears to be actual) cruelty inflicted upon animals during filming. For instance, in the British DVD release the scene where the French Cavalry charge the red-coated British squares has lost a few seconds where a horse and rider topple forward after being gunned down. This was cut because of the scene's apparent use of the 'Running W' device, a notorious (and illegal) technique in which a stunt rider charges a horse into a 'W' shaped trip wire to make it fall forwards head over heels on-cue. All horse falls can be seen uncut on the American Region One DVD release. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Exquisite for its focus alone
17 November 2000 | by vox-saneSee all my reviews

The problem most war movies have, especially if they depict one battle, is the addition of extraneous sub-plots. I suppose the film makers think a broader audience will appreciate a movie more if there's an ordinary fellow shoved in that we can follow, and a love interest . . . Perhaps this view is valid. "Waterloo" comes dangerously on the brink of that pitfall in an early scene, but quickly backs up and focuses on who we really need to know to understand the battle: Napoleon and Wellington. Christopher Plummer was born to play Wellington, and he underplays the part beautifully, so that you know what he's thinking by the flick of an eyebrow or the corner of his mouth. Steiger looks like the older Napoleon, and he tends to chew the scenery, but Napoleon flew into unrestrained rages.

The movie does an admirable job of doing what so many lesser war movies don't: it gives you a good idea of what's going on in the field. If you pay attention, you won't be at a loss for the strategy or tactics.

Furthermore, the way it was shot has kept it from aging. It doesn't look like a "spectacle" from the '50s or '60s -- and though it employs a few of the poor film-making choices of its time that late-sixties film makers thought were so cool but which turned out so confusing and easily dated -- it doesn't seem dated at all.

The script has a peculiarity that might well have destroyed it: the writers seem to have excavated every famous quote from Napoleon, Wellington, et al, and shoved them all into the dialogue; and, amazingly, it isn't a distraction.

The worst problem the film has as a whole is its tendency to try to duplicate famous paintings by Meissonier, Lady Butler, and others; sometimes this works, giving the color tones we have come to expect of the period from those very artworks. Occasionally, it's distracting.

There are a few very rough cuts that look pretty bad. But the movie originally was more than four hours long, and the American release suffers from somewhat poor editing and splicing. Surely it's time to bring a full (and wide-screen) release to home video?

However, if you like your historical war movies diluted with love stories and fictional characters, rather than having the real brains behind the battles at center stage, you'll probably be bored to tears by it. If you want as good a recreation of a famous battle as you can probably get, this movie's for you.


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