- 2 hr 14 min
Waterloo is an epic war film that chronicles the final battle of Napoleon Bonaparte against the combined forces of the British and Prussian armies, which took place at Waterloo, Belgium in 1815. Released in 1970, the movie was directed by Sergei Bondarchuk and starred Rod Steiger as Napoleon, Christopher Plummer as the Duke of Wellington, and Orson Welles as King Louis XVIII of France.
The film opens with a depiction of Napoleonâs exile to the island of Elba after abdicating the French throne in 1814, as well as his triumphant return to France a year later. The Emperor soon sets out to build a new army and re-establish his rule over Europe, culminating in the climactic battle of Waterloo. The film provides a detailed portrayal of the complex military strategies and tactics employed by both sides, as well as the bravery and sacrifices of soldiers on both sides of the conflict.
One of the strengths of Waterloo is its stunning cinematography, making use of thousands of extras and accurate historical depictions to recreate the battlefield and the soldiers who fought on it. The filmâs extensive battle scenes are some of the most realistic portrayals of 19th century warfare ever put on film, complete with hordes of soldiers, cannons, cavalry charges, and explosions.
The cast also delivers excellent performances that bring to life the historical figures they portray. Rod Steigerâs performance as Napoleon is particularly noteworthy, earning him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor. His portrayal is neither overly sympathetic nor villainous, but rather presents a complex and nuanced depiction of a charismatic leader who many people believed could conquer the world.
Despite the filmâs technical brilliance and strong performances, some critics have accused it of presenting a sanitized view of the battle that downplays its brutality and violence. The movie largely glosses over the horrific human toll of the conflict and instead focuses on the politics and strategy of the battle. While this approach makes sense given the overall scope of the film, it may not be as emotionally resonant as other war movies that are more willing to confront the full ugliness of warfare.
Overall, Waterloo is a grand and thrilling film that provides a fascinating glimpse into one of the most pivotal moments in European history. Its epic scale, attention to historical detail, and compelling performances make it a remarkable and enduring achievement in the history of cinema.