The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
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All Critics (9)
| Top Critics (4)
| Fresh (3)
| Rotten (6)
Bondarchuk is so overwhelmed by the thousands of Russian cavalry troops he's been given to play with, and by his $25 million budget, and by-his obsession for aerial photography, that his leading characters turn out scarcely more human than his extras.
As for the golden history and legend, they lie buried beneath this delayed replay of a primer on strategy.
Visually impressive, but a rather silly attempt to explain Napoleon.
The sense of the film itself is another matter, and the particular dullness of Bondarchuk's attempt to translate history into cinema makes Waterloo a very bad movie.
A confusion of spectacular aerial shots, romantic slow- motion calvary charges, mumbled high command conferences and deafening artillery.
Waterloo is solid, sometimes to the point of lumbering... But Waterloo succeeds in what it set out to do -- to re-create a major historical event and place it in some kind of perspective.
It all plays out dutifully according to the history books.
What's good about this work? Steiger as Napoleon and Plummer as Wellington. And a glorious project that's as sumptuous as imagination could make it, lavish in numbers of people and in costumes and sets. But the story's too big. They couldn't get it all in. So you get crowds of well dressed folks simply standing around in some scenes. And if one is unfamiliar with the story forget about understanding the huge battle scenes. There's a better chronicle on this epic, historic battle somewhere, there must be.
At first, King Louis XVIII(Orson Welles) is none too worried when Napoleon(Rod Steiger) begins his comeback tour from Elba with a thousand men. When that number becomes substantially much, much larger, the king figures it might be a good time for an extended vacation. That's okay because the Duke of Wellington(Christopher Plummer) is waiting patiently in Belgium for the emperor to make his move. In the meantime, he attends a gala or two.
"Waterloo" is a splendidly produced extravagansa, centered around the famed battle and turning point in history. While it is clearly apparent the huge amount of research that went into the making of this movie, it sadly never truly comes alive. Part of this comes down to the narrow focus on Wellington and Napoleon, especially about how different they may have been. In fact, the first half hour comes perilously close to becoming a one man show which is not entirely bad since Rod Steiger makes a surprisingly effective Napoleon. That's also at the detriment of almost everybody else which partially short circuits the movie's otherwise profound final statement.
Massive battle scenes and a superb cast. The script often sounds a bit strangled as it leans heavily on attributed quotes. The film was a joint Soviet/Italian collaboration made in 1970 and it seems no coincidence that political and socialogical differences between Napoleon and his adversaries are highlighted - the dictator Bonaparte is shown as very much a man of his people whereas his aristocratic opponents exhibit an air of superiority to and distain for their working class rank and file. All in all it's not a perfect film but it truly is an epic spectacle.
Not bad for an old war movie. Funny and interesting.
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