Waterloo (I) (1970)

G   |    |  Action, Biography, Drama


Waterloo (1970) Poster

Facing the decline of everything he has worked to obtain, conqueror Napoleon Bonaparte and his army confront the British at the Battle of Waterloo.

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7.3/10
7,286

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  • Rod Steiger in Waterloo (1970)
  • Waterloo (1970)
  • Rod Steiger in Waterloo (1970)
  • Rod Steiger in Waterloo (1970)
  • Waterloo (1970)
  • Waterloo (1970)

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User Reviews


17 November 2000 | vox-sane
9
| 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.

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