Friday, April 29, 2016

The French connection: WATERLOO(1970)

As I have been VERY busy working as a lawn maintenance laborer I haven't had much time the past few months to do much of anything on the internet, much less contribute content to this blog. Still, and as always, I find time to enjoy movies. I recently purchased an epic war drama, a 1970 Italian-Russian film directed by Sergei Bondarchuck and produced by Dino de Laurentiis called WATERLOO. The film begins in 1814 with French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, his forces defeated by a coaltion force of British, Prussian and Spanish soldiers, forced to abdicate his position and flee to the island of Elba. Ten months later Napoleon escapes Elba and returns to France. The weak willed French king(played by Orson Welles) flees the throne upon learning that Napoleon has returned. Bonaparte quickly returns to absolute power.

Enter Arthur Wellesley aka "The Duke Of Wellington"(played by Christopher Plummer), an English aristocrat and capable military commander in charge of the coalition army which must contend with Napoleon again. France has been the dominant power in Europe since the late 1790's but other nations on the European continent oppose France, believing this country has become too powerful for its own good.

In June, 1815 a battle takes place at a town in Belgium called "Waterloo" which will shape the future of Europe for decades to come. Napoleon Bonaparte and a force of about 290,000 men battle a comparably sized force commanded by the Duke Of Wellington, Wellington's army assisted by the dashing Prussian army commanded by Blucher. Rod Steiger is terrific as the brooding, brilliant, ego driven "Napoleon Bonaparte". The actor evens resembles the real Bonaparte(based on artists renderings of the French emperor). The battle scenes are well choregraphed and the whizzing, whistling sounds of the airborne nine pound cannon balls launched from French and British cannons add to the spectacle of the Waterloo battle sequences. I also liked Dan O'Herlihy as Bonaparte's proverbial "right hand man", Marshal Michel Ney.

As a history buff Napoleon Bonaparte has always been of great fascination to me. I wrote a detailed research paper while in college on his disastrous military campaign in Russia(in 1812) so buying the DVD of WATERLOO was an easy decision for me.

Highly recommend this film to anyone who enjoys epic ar films! The Russian DVD of this movie is available for sale at Amazon and presents the film in it's original widescreen aspect ratio.