Monday, July 29, 2013


Dir: Sergey Bondarchuk.

I'd heard of this movie many times, but I'd never seen it. No television channel ever showed it where I've been living, despite the fact that I've seen 'Zulu' on terrestrial televsion at least four times (and twice on my computer). Since I'm not really into Napoleonic land battles, I haven't missed the film, but I have read once or twice, this was something worth watching, and after I'd watched 'Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World', the evening previously, I felt inclined to see 'Waterloo' when I chanced across the full film (and in reasonable quality) on You Tube.

Luckily I wasn't expecting miracles from a film made in 1970, so I merely chuckled at the actors doing their best to appear in character whilst on rocking horses with propane explosions going off behind them. Unfortunately the introspective tone of the film was not so funny, and I found myself rapidly losing interest every time the camera man fell asleep whilst watching Steiger struggle with a megalomaniac's inferiority complex. The film really sank when Plummer, playing Wellington, lapsed into the same timid voice overs.

The big battle, which dominates the second half of the movie, was rather disappointing too. The sheer number of extras (or cardboard cut outs) was impressive, but despite the odd innovative camera angle every now again, the action sequences had very little dynamic and appeared to rely almost totally on obscuring the picture with smoke rather than create a sense of ambience. When I consider this film with 'The Duellists', which was made seven years later with a much smaller cast, and probably a fraction of the budget, I can't but help thinking that here is a film in desperate need of a remake!


Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Going to have to disagree with you on this one... :o)

moif said...

No problem Steve, but why?
Is it an old favourite of yours?

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Oh man, this was one of the defining moments of my adolescent wargaming hobby.... I can only think of two films that I went to see more than once while they were still showing at the cinema, this one, and "The Song Remains the Same".... for me it was always the grand sweep that excited me.. the uniform detail, the panoramic views, the numbers involved and the spectacle.. Plummer is not a brilliant actor but he tried, Steiger was well over the top but plausible - he was trying to play a little man who managed to carry an entire nation into war with him in the far corners of the world but who knew he was not as good as he was - I suspect Napoleon would have been over the top in real life too... it's not a 5 star, but I'd argue for 4 and accept (grudgingly.. ) 3.5... :o))

moif said...

Consider the film well defended then!

Now I need to see if I can find any other historical classics I can catch up on

Steve-the-Wargamer said... ?? :o)

moif said...

20 episodes! Ouch.
Still, I read the books years ago and it can't be as long as they were :)