The Great Waterloo Hunt

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By Richard Moore

One of the most spectacular war movies produced, Waterloo is just one of those films you need to have in your collection.

Okay, the scripting is a bit suss - so is some of the historical accuracy - and some of the dubbing for the multi-language cast is ordinary, but there can be few complaints about the giant scope of the imagery.

Tens of thousands of Russian soldiers signed up as extras to bring a real epic quality to Waterloo. No get-tight-in-to-hide-our-lack-of-numbers photography here as Sergei Bondarchuk uses zooming, panning and helicopter cameras to stunning effect and runs the lens over a massive landscape of colourful uniforms, towering explosions and charging horses.

For those keen on accuracy, the tactics used by the soldiers are pretty spot on - column and line formations - although in one of the climactic scenes I'm sure the rear rank of British Guards would have shot their own front line to pieces when the eager latter troops stood up just as the volley was fired.

The sound is awesome. Throughout the movie, the jangle of spurs and creak of leathers add a close-in realism for the viewer; that is when your ears are not being rung by massed artillery salvoes and musket fire.

There are a lot of well-known actors, mainly British, in the support cast of Waterloo and they do a very good job.

Christopher Plummer is superb as the aristocratic Duke of Wellington (even looks a bit like him) and Rod Steiger's Napoleon is excellent. Orson Welles makes a couple of appearances as (Fat) Louis XVIII and the support crew includes Dan O'Herlihy, Terence Alexander, Philippe Forquet and Ian Ogilvy.

There are three extra minutes of the movie on the DVD - the video has 126 minutes - but this was a perfect opportunity to put out a director's cut of the whole original version of Waterloo. Running time was four hours and would have brought joy to a Napoleonic buff's heart.


Movie: 85%

DVD Extras: 40%


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