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>
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 »
During the scene where Napoleon and his staff see the advancing Prussians in the distance, where they raise their telescopes to their eyes, one officer on the right of the scene doesn't have a telescope and just pretends to raise one to his eye. See more »
[On Wellington's refusal to move]
[thinks to himself]
This Englishman has two qualities I admire: caution, and above all, courage
He hasn't moved, he's nailed himself to his ridge. Now's the time to move all the heavy artillery against Picton.
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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