Top positive review
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A Great Watch - 4.5 stars!
on 8 October 2016
Waterloo (1970) is set in the Hundred Days period of the Napoleonic era and depicts one of the greatest comebacks in history: Napoleon Bonaparte's brief return to power and its consequences. The beginning of the film gives a great background to events, including the Emperor's abdication and his emotional farewell to the Old Guard.
I watched this film after it was highly recommended by History Buffs online. The battle was beautifully reenacted and the film kept very close to the tactics, attire and historical events surrounding the period and battle; good examples include Ney's cavalry charge without infantry support, which was a pleasure to watch and the charge of the 'Scot's Greys'.
I would say 'I loved it' but the casting of Rod Steiger as the Emperor grated against me a little as it smacked of the 'Short Boney' mishap that most people perpetuate about the historical Napoleon being short when he was actually above average height for his time. Apart from this and other small inaccuracies, all featured in the History Buffs episode, I really enjoyed this film.
This film rivals the quality of another absolute favorite of mine: Gettysburg (1993). Without the sometimes obtrusive CGI scenes of more modern films, the wide shots are spectacular and truly capture the carnage, tragedy and nobility of war in equal measure, with each individual being a real extra and soldier (from the Soviet army of the time).
Despite my aforementioned gripe, the acting of the two lead males - Steiger and Plummer - was solid and the sheer power and authenticity of the sets pulls the viewer inside its world kicking and screaming. The subplot of the British soldier stealing a pig and worming his way out of Wellington's wrath added a charming dimension and humanity to the film too.
In conclusion, I am confident that even hardened old history fanatics will enjoy watching this film and I rate Waterloo at 4.5 stars.