Waterloo (film)

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Waterloo (Russian: Ватерлоо) is a 1970 Soviet-Italian film directed by Sergei Bondarchuk and produced by Dino De Laurentiis. It was the story of the preliminary events and the Battle of Waterloo, and was famous for its lavish battle scenes.

It starred Rod Steiger (portraying Napoleon Bonaparte) and Christopher Plummer (portraying the Duke of Wellington) with cameos by Orson Welles (Louis XVIII of France). Other stars included Jack Hawkins as General Picton, Virginia McKenna as the Duchess of Richmond and Dan O'Herlihy as Marshal Ney.

The film includes some 15,000 Soviet foot soldiers and 2,000 cavalrymen as extras ("it was said that, during its making, director Sergei Bondarchuk was in command of the seventh largest army in the world"[1]). Fifty circus stunt riders were used to perform the dangerous horse falls. These numbers brought an epic quality to the battle scenes.

Contents

Plot

The film opens on Château de Fontainebleau in 1814. Paris is besieged by the Austrians and her allies. Napoleon Bonaparte (Steiger) is urged by his marshals to abdicate but he refuses, defiant. Upon hearing the surrender of his last army under Auguste Marmont he realises that finally all is lost and accepts the abdication pleas of his marshallate. He is banished to Elba, an island in the Mediterranean with a small army of 1,000—Ney (O'Herlihy) calls it an honourable exile.

After a tearful farewell to the Old Guard, he is carted away. 10 months later he escapes from Elba and sails back to France. Michel Ney, now under the allegiance of the restored Bourbon king (Welles) is asked to capture him at Grenoble. Ney agrees, eager to earn the respect of the court, who just the day before insulted his "low birth" wife by addressing her as "Madame" despite her title. He declares he'll bring Napoleon back to Paris "in an iron cage", which Louis XVIII says to himself is an exaggerated expression and an overreaction, typical for a militarist.

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