Waterloo

1970

Action / Biography / Drama / History / War

133
IMDb Rating 7.3 10 7,505

Synopsis


Downloaded 16,665 times
September 23, 2019

Cast

Christopher Plummer as Raymond Swan
Dan O'Herlihy as Capt. Ronald Blaine
Orson Welles as Narrator
Rod Steiger as Christopher Gill
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.17 GB
1280*720
English
NR
23.976 fps
123 min
P/S N/A / N/A
2.1 GB
1920×1080
English
NR
23.976 fps
123 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by GulyJimson 10 / 10 / 10

"Next to a battle lost, the saddest thing is a battle won..."

Depicting history on film has never been easy. In all cases the history is simplified and events compressed, while historical personalities are often combined or eliminated entirely. This is perfectly understandable given the needs of cramming information into a two, perhaps three hour film, while maintaining some sort of dramatic continuity and structure. Generally speaking, while the political and social currents are painted in broad strokes, costume, make-up and especially art direction can vividly recreate in glorious detail an era, if only on a visual level. The attitudes and speech of the performers play an important part here as well for nothing will destroy the audience's willing suspension of belief in a period recreation faster than a performance or vocal intonation that seem anachronistic. Do these films succeed as cinema? "JFK" and "Lawrence of Arabia" are both great films because they succeed as works of cinema first, however inaccurate or debatable the history they depict. History's depiction in cinema must take a back seat to film ascetics given the limitation of the medium in allowing for examination of an individual or event with anything approaching depth or scope. Sergei Bondarchuk's "Waterloo" (1970) was his follow-up to his previous, equally spectacular "War and Peace" (1968). Both films recreate the Napoleonic Age on a visual level to a degree of detail that has never been equaled. While the earlier film was based on the celebrated novel of Tolstoy, "Waterloo" concerns itself with the events leading up to the confrontation between Emperor Napoleon I and Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington. Any film dealing with the out-sized figure of Napoleon Bonaparte must confront the problem of a super abundance of source material, the adapting of which would be daunting to a modern mini-series, let alone a film running a little over two hours in length. Obviously simplification is a necessity. Indeed the film opens with a brief written prologue summing up the events of the past twenty years leading up to the battle. Yet "Waterloo" is unique in that virtually all the dialogue is taken from historical sources. Very little is made up, and Bondarchuk with co-scriptwriters H.A.L. Craig and Vittorio Bonicelli fashioned a story that is lucid and taut while remaining remarkably accurate to the actual event. Bondarchuk was an absolute master of logistics, perhaps the greatest. and "Waterloo" places on display his considerable talents. With an eye for detail he and his technicians reconstructed the entire battlefield, complete with chateaus and farmhouses. In addition they installed beneath the earth a watering system allowing them to soak the various fields of wheat and barley as needed. Given the use of a Russian army division of 20,000 men to represent the French, English and Prussian armies, he deployed them-in costume-complete with all the necessary Napoleonic ordinance to recreate the most famous battle in history. And all of this was achieved without the use of CGI and digital effects. It was all done live and the result is incredible; an actual Napoleonic battle recreated on a full scale. With columns of smoke and fire, charging horses, thousands of troops in brilliant uniforms marching in formation, the film as caught by cinematographer Armando Nannuzz has a horrific grandeur. The stirring score by Nino Rota uses music from the period as well as actual martial tunes played by Napoleon's Old Guard as they marched into battle. All the set pieces of the battle are lovingly recreated; the assault on the Hougoumount, the charge of the Scots Greys, the forming of the British army into squares, the final stand of the Old Guard. Bondarchuk also wisely focuses on the personalities of the two protagonists. He is well served by both Rod Steiger as Napoleon and Christopher Plummer as Wellington. Steiger is earthy and passionate, a brilliant charismatic leader racing against the rapid decaying of his faculties. Plummer is arrogant, aloof, a disdainful English aristocrat, "Scum. Nothing but gutter trash and scum!" And he is referring to his own troops. They are surrounded by a great supporting cast. Happily the film is well served here as well. Dan O'Herlihy as Marshal Ney does a superb job of suggesting a man struggling desperately with some inner conflict. As his British counterpart, Jack Hawkins plays the hard-bitten General Sir Thomas Picton. He is an aristocrat more at home on the battlefield than on the ballroom dance floor. Orson Welles does an effective cameo as the fat, gouty, ineffectual Louis XVIII. Welles does a remarkable job in his few minutes of screen time by actually making the fleeing Bourbon King sympathetic rather than buffoonish. Virginia McKenna does a delicious turn as the worldly Duchess of Richmond in a stunning ballroom sequence that sets Byron's poem, "The Eve of Waterloo" to it cinematic equivalent. The film was long rumored to run over four hours in the Russian version, and at times it does have the feel of a film that has been cut, but recently the film's Associate Producer and Editor Richard C. Meyer has confirmed that the longest known version ran 132 minutes and that the "four hour" version was merely a rough cut never meant for distribution. A quick look at the complete cast list, however suggests otherwise as many never made it to the released film.

Reviewed by vox-sane 9 / 10 / 10

Exquisite for its focus alone

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.

Reviewed by vox-sane 9 / 10 / 10

Poor Editing Mars Superb Story

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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