• Film
  • Drama
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Visually impressive, but a rather silly attempt to explain Napoleon, tracing his career from exile in Elba, through resurgence to power, to his defeat by Wellington at Waterloo. The main problem seems to lie in Bondarchuk's reliance on eye-catching gimmickry, and in his indecision as to whether to make a spectacular epic about nations at war, or an intimate portrayal of Bonaparte as a person. The early scenes, with less action, suffer most from this fault, although the whole thing is also blighted by Steiger's eccentrically mannered performance.

Release details

Duration: 132 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Sergei Bondarchuk
Screenwriter: HAL Craig, Sergei Bondarchuk, Vittorio Bonicelli
Cast: Rod Steiger
Christopher Plummer
Orson Welles
Jack Hawkins
Virginia McKenna
Dan O'Herlihy
Rupert Davies
Philippe Forquet
Michael Wilding

Average User Rating

2.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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Christopher Plummer reprises his aloof Captain von Trapp, this time as the arrogantly aloof first Duke of Wellington. Waterloo wants to be an epic battle spectacular at the same time as an introverted psychological portrait of the two adversaries. Some misguided camera trickery aside, the battle itself is accomnplished and duly bloody, whilst the closenes of the result is never left in any doubt. Rod Steiger remains a puzzle as the choice to play Napoleon, a fidgety, eccentric portrayal that is ultimately more suggestive of inner madness than genius. The ponderous early scenes (which allow for an eloquent cameo by Orson Welles as the bloated Louis XVIII) are not rounded off with Napoleon's final capture and exile to St Helena. At the battle's close with mud, death and rain closing in he climbs into his carriage and is driven enigmatically away. An odd conclusion to a strangely incomplete film.