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Waterloo

By Gary S. Dalkin

"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.

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FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)DVD unavailableSoundtrack unavailable at Amazon.com - try eBay (see links below)Rated GNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Sergei Bondarchuk

Stars: Rod Steiger, Orson Welles, Christopher Plummer, Jack Hawkins, Virginia McKenna, Dan O'Herlihy, Michael Wilding

Released: March 31, 1971

Availability: VHS


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