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On September 27, 1810, the French troops commanded by Marshal Massena, were defeated in the Serra do Buçaco by the Anglo-Portuguese army of general Wellington. Despite the victory, Portuguese and British are forced to retreat from the enemy, numerically superior, in order to attract them to Torres Vedras, where Wellington had built fortified lines hardly surmountable. Simultaneously, the Anglo-Portuguese command organizes the evacuation of the entire territory between the battlefield and the lines of Torres Vedras, a gigantic burned land operation, which prevents the French from collecting supplies. This is the setting for the adventures of a multitude of characters from all social backgrounds - soldiers and civilians, men, women and children, young and old - to the daily routine torn by war and dragged through hills and valleys, between ruined villages, charred forests and devastated crops.Highly persecuted by the French, already tormented by an unmerciful weather, the mass of ...Written by
A historical drama co-produced by Portugal and France. The plot takes place post Battle of Bussaco (27-09-1810) while the population and the Anglo-Portuguese troops make the strategic withdrawal for the Lines of Torres Vedras, erected by order of General Wellington, in an attempt to make a final decisive stand against the advance of the Napoleonic Army lead by Marechal Massena.
A film that had everything to be extraordinary and perhaps even a striking epic of the Portuguese cinema, with a budget around 5 million Euros, it is revolting that it does not contain a single battle scene, just two brief skirmishes. It follows too many characters none of them of consequence on the grand scheme of the theme portrayed (except Wellington and Massena), so the audience does not empathize with any of them, even with a length time of 151 minutes (2h:31m). I guess all the money went to scenery, costumes and some 'big name' actors that hardly show for a maximum of 5 minutes to quickly disappear and never be seen again. I know that the focus of this movie is on the common folks, their plights and efforts during such a terrible event, but the movie is called "Lines of Wellington", not "Evacuation to Torres Vedras"! Therefore the title is misleading, being more a soap-opera with a thematic backdrop then properly a movie about the title's theme.
So I assumed the plot would revolve around the two most influential personalities related to the event: Massena (Melvil Poupaud) and Wellington (John Malkovich). But Massena hardly has any screen time, and when he does, he rarely talks! He also should have been played by someone at least ten years older, just as the real Massena was during that time. And Wellington, who also should have been played by someone at least twenty years younger like the real Wellington was during that time, just comes out as a pompous ass, which really annoys me: sure he was pompous due to his historical, social and upbringing context, but I doubt he was an ass even more amidst a military campaign as portrayed by Malkovich! And then when comes that scene where he recites the Beef Wellington recipe, I swear I never before in my entire life felt so compelled to punch the screen! There is no proof that the two are related! John Malkovich, you are a nice actor, but I will never forgive you for making an ass out of one of the greatest European heroes, the man who defeated Napoleon Bonaparte! And your hair is ridiculous: Wellington was ahead of his time and already wore it short.
I really have no clue to what was the producers' idea behind this grotesque travesty. Have they made any minimal research? The majority of characters are purely fictional. The acting is just ordinary, except Victoria Guerra that really uplifts the scene when on screen. The soundtrack is nice but nothing epic and a bit monotonous. And don't even tell me about the 'not so' outstanding technical aspects because nowadays it is no hardship to get outstanding settings and costumes for period movies, so that does not count! - I know it should, but I won't.
For those who want to have a true historical perspective of this event and its most outstanding characters, please buy a book on the subject or consult Wikipedia because from this movie you learn nothing. The only payoff is 2 or 3 interesting dialogues and to see Soraia Chaves and Victoria Guerra naked, but not even that is sufficient to save this movie from being on my (short) list of the most hated ones.
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