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Waterloo [DVD] [1970]

Price: £11.99
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Product details

  • Actors: Rod Steiger, Christopher Plummer, Orson Welles, Jack Hawkins, Virginia McKenna
  • Directors: Sergey Bondarchuk
  • Writers: Sergey Bondarchuk, H.A.L. Craig, Mario Soldati, Vittorio Bonicelli
  • Producers: Dino De Laurentiis, Richard C. Meyer, Tom Carlile
  • Format: PAL, Widescreen, Surround Sound, Colour, Anamorphic
  • Language: Finnish, English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Uca Catalogue
  • DVD Release Date: 6 Jun. 2005
  • Run Time: 128 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (154 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004RCO8
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,417 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

After his abdication Napoleon Bonaparte (Rod Steiger) is exiled to the island of Elba. However, he escapes to be reunited with his generals and troops, and mounts a last desperate bid for power at the what is now known as the Battle of Waterloo. He has, however, reckoned without the British forces led by Arthur Welsley, the Duke of Wellington, who had just returned from a successful campaign in Spain.


"A film that will never be equalled for its spectacle and dramatic power" says the stirring trailer on this otherwise sparsely featured DVD. Taking the story of the Napoleonic Wars to Bonaparte's final defeat, Waterloo is an unofficial continuation to director Sergei Bondarchuk's own 70mm super-epic War and Peace (1968). The climactic battle of Waterloo is shown in the second half of the film and re-enacted with such stunning realism by a cast of around 20,000 extras that it looks like documentary footage from history itself (some 20 years later, Gettysburg, 1993, did the same for the American Civil War). Those who hailed the groundbreaking impact of Saving Private Ryan should see Bondarchuk's films, as for sheer scale and intensity--if not bloodiness--they make Spielberg's hit look like an amateur video. Without ever attempting a French accent, Rod Steiger makes a commanding Napoleon, Christopher Plummer a worthy adversary as Wellington, while the supporting cast led by Orson Welles, Jack Hawkins and Virginia McKenna is excellent. The DVD transfer is richly detailed and clear, though the print itself could have done with just a little restoration. Though dated, Abel Glance's Napoleon (1928) remains definitive for many, perhaps explaining why Stanley Kubrick eventually abandoned his planned Napoleon film, instead making the 18th Century period epic Barry Lyndon (1974). --Gary S.Dalkin

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 78 people found the following review helpful By David C. Read on 26 May 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a truly astonishing film. I doubt it could even be attempted today. The number of uniformed extras is astonishing considering the cost of the uniforms involved, especially the beautiful French cavalry and infantry uniforms. The charge of the Scots Grays Cavalry is magnificently filmed, clearly inspired by a famous painting.
The battle is somewhat accurately depicted, insofar as the order of engagements, charges, and skirmishes. Toward the end, however, it becomes confusing, and has obviously been severely edited for time. Other reviewers have stated that the film was originally four hours long. This version is only a little over two hours. I would not have complained had it been a full hour longer, so long as that hour was devoted to accurately depicting the battle, and showing off some of the amazing uniforms, especially of the French cavalry. Frankly, the battle itself seems to have been somewhat shortchanged in this shorter version.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By The CinemaScope Cat TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 13 Nov. 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
After being banished to Elba, Napoleon Bonaparte (Rod Steiger) returns in triumph to Paris to reclaim his Emperor's throne while King Louis XVIII (a mountainous Orson Welles) flees the city. But his glory is short lived as he meets the armies of Wellington (Christopher Plummer) at the battle of Waterloo. This handsome epic, directed by Sergei Bondarchuk (1967's WAR AND PEACE), is a mixed bag. With the exception of a well done ball sequence, the dramatic portions tend to be stagnant. But the battle scenes, which occupy the second half of the film, are pretty awesome. More so because it's not CGI the way it would be today. Filmed in the Soviet Union, the Russians not only helped fund the film but provided some 16,000 soldiers to act as background in the battle scenes. When you see some of the incredible aerial shots or the charging armies, you know it's real people on the screen, not computer generated images. Steiger, while an odd choice for Napoleon, is effective in his restrained scenes while his eye popping acting is distracting in others. The Nino Rota score is a dud but Armando Nannuzzi gives the film a nice sheen whether the rich looking interiors or the vast exteriors. With Jack Hawkins, Virginia McKenna, Dan O'Herlihy, Michael Wilding and Philippe Forquet.

The Sony DVD via Great Britain is a nicely rendered anamorphic wide screen (2.35) transfer.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth M. Pizzi on 29 July 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
In the tradition of the cinematic epics like Kubrick's "Spartacus" and Mann's "Fall of the Roman Empire," Bondarchuk's "Waterloo" succeeds in depicting Napoleon's desperate and final bid for power and glory. Steiger, no stranger to roles that have consistently challenged his acting ability, is quite good as the deposed French emperor who narrowly lost his final battle. Orson Welles' appearance as Louis XVIII, is far too brief but most welcome, and Plummer as Lord Wellington is a casting director's dream. Dino de Laurentiis has produced some questionable if not laughable films in the past "King Kong" (1976) and "Flash Gordon" (1980); however, "Waterloo" must be seen as one of his better efforts.

Many critics here at Amazon will applaud the many and well-orchestrated battle scenes--a case-in-point are the great aerial shots of the British "squares" organized against Marshall Ney (Dan O' Herlihy) and the French cavalry--and one can easily understand the film's strong visual appeal, but this opus succeeds in other ways too.

The non-battle scenes, for instance, like the ball before the battle which introduces us to Napoleon's nemesis, Wellington, and the scenes of Napoleon dictating letters to his secretaries, are thoughtful touches that broaden the scope of this highly entertaining film and successfully depict an aristocratically genteel milieu shattered by the cataclysm that is nineteenth-century warfare. On the surface, an era characterized by the gentility of the landed gentry and sportsmanlike conduct on the battlefield, later destroyed by the real brutalities and devastation of war.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By amazon customer on 3 Dec. 2014
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The perfect gift for all Historical movie enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

I've always thought, as a film enthusiast, that it's an asset to have as little knowledge of history as possible. On many occasions, history buffs become so swept up in spotting inaccuracies that they forget to appreciate the quality of the film-making itself, the director's breathtaking vision, the unrivalled spectacle. Who was Napoleon? Once we've eliminated the possibility of his being a particularly nasty and tyrannical farmyard pig, all I can offer you is that he ruled France for a time during the early nineteenth century, and met his downfall at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Armed with this basic knowledge, I positioned myself before the biggest screen I could provide and began to watch 'Waterloo (1970),' directed by Sergei Bondarchuk. Just three years earlier, the Soviet filmmaker had released 'War and Peace (1967),' his epic eight-hour adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's celebrated novel and, drawing on his experience in filming battle sequences, concentrated all his efforts on an extravagant and awe-inspiring recreation of the Battle of Waterloo.

American actor Rod Steiger was cast in the role of Napoleon Bonaparte, a seemingly-unusual choice to portray a Frenchman, but Steiger brings a wonderful intensity to the character. Throughout the battle, Napoleon is depicted as a courageous and level-headed leader, who, due to the constant harassment of illness, was hampered in his decision-making and ultimately defeated, an outcome he accepts rationally, though not without much sorrow.
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