Waterloo (movie, 1970)

Waterloo ( Russian :  Ватерлоо ) is a Russian – Italian historical filmby Sergei Bondarchuk of 1970 on the theme of the Battle of Waterloo of 1815 .


The film starts on the 1814 abdication of the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte , after the campaign in France in 1814 and the restoration of the French monarchy of King Louis XVIII. It then traces the Hundred Days , the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 and the confrontation between the two commanders, the Duke of Wellington and the Emperor Napoleon I er to Waterloo in Belgium .

Technical sheet

  • Title: Waterloo
  • Directed by: Sergei Bondarchuk
  • Screenplay: Serge Bondartchouk , Vittorio Bonicelli , Mario Soldati , Rafael Vara
  • Photo: Armando Nannuzzi
  • Music: Nino Rota , Wilfred Josephs
  • Production: Thomas Carlisle , Dino De Laurentiis
  • Production Company: Dino De Laurentiis Cinematografica , Mosfilm
  • Distribution Companies: Columbia Pictures (outside United States), Paramount Pictures (United States)
  • Budget: ~ US $ 35,000,000
  • Language: Russian , English
  • Genre: Historical War Movie
  • Release date in France: 
  • Duration: 134 minutes


  • Rod Steiger : Napoleon I st
  • Christopher Plummer : The Duke of Wellington
  • Orson Welles : King Louis XVIII
  • Virginia McKenna : Duchess of Richmond
  • Jack Hawkins : General Thomas Picton
  • Dan O’Herlihy : Marshal Ney
  • Ivo Garrani : Marshal Soult
  • Sergo Zakariadze : Marshal Gebhard Blücher
  • Charles Millot : Marshal Grouchy
  • Andrea Checchi : Sauret
  • Yevgeny Samoilov : Pierre Cambronne

Around the film

The staging is facilitated by the participation of 20,000 extras of the Soviet Army 1 , which allows a very realistic reconstruction of troop movements; good historical veracity for uniforms, weapons and tactics.

Columbia Pictures published a 28-page illustrated guide on the occasion of the 1970 release of Waterloo . According to this book, Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis had difficulty raising funding for the film until he negotiated with the Russians late 1960s, and was able to find an arrangement with the company Mosfilm. The film eventually cost £ 12 million (about $ 38.3 million in 1970), making Waterloo one of the most expensive films ever made. If it had been filmed in Western Europe or the USA, the costs would probably have been multiplied by three. Mosfilm brought about 4 million pounds sterling, nearly 16,000 Red Army soldiers, a complete brigade of the Soviet cavalry, and many engineers and diggers to prepare the reconstruction of the battlefield in the vicinity of Uzhhorod in Ukraine (at that time part of the Soviet Union ).

To recreate a realistic battlefield, the Russians cleared two hills, established 8 kilometers of roads, transplanted 5,000 trees, planted fields of wheat and wildflowers, and recreated four historic buildings. To form the mud, about ten kilometers of irrigation pipes were installed. Most of the battle was filmed simultaneously with five cameras from the ground, a 30-meter tower, a helicopter, and a railway line next to the filming field.

Filming took place over 28 weeks, with a delay of 16 days due mainly to weather conditions. Most of the scenes were filmed during the summer of 1969, in a sweltering heat. In addition to the battle scenes in Ukraine, various scenes were shot at the Caserta Palace in Italy , while various scenes of interiors were shot in De Laurentiis studios in Rome . The period clothes were created by E. Rancati, and hundreds of shoes were provided LCP di Pompei.

Months before filming began, the 16,000 soldiers trained in the tactics and movements of 1815, the use of sabers and bayonets, maneuvering guns. In particular, 2,000 soldiers were selected to charge and use muskets and rifles. The army was housed in a camp near the reconstructed battlefield. Every morning after breakfast, the men converged on the costumes, put on their French, English or Prussian uniforms and put themselves in position 15 minutes later. The soldiers were commanded by officers who took direct orders from director Sergei Bondarchuk by walkie-talkie. To help him to lead this important multinational project, the director always had four performers at his side:

This film is one of the biggest failures of the US box office with a revenue of $ 1.4 million for a budget of $ 25 million.

Excerpts from the film are shown at the Waterloo Battlefield Visitor Center , near the Lion Butte.

Historical errors

This article does not sufficiently mention its sources (February 2010).If you have reference books or articles, or if you are familiar with quality websites dealing with the topic discussed here, please complete the article by providing useful references to its verifiability and linking them to the ” Notes ” section. and references »

In practice: Which sources are expected? How to add my sources?

  • The presence of Marshal Soult during the abdication of Napoleon is not possible since in 1814 he commands a French army in the South East of France against Wellington.
  • Ney would have really told Louis XVIII that he intended to bring Napoleon back in an iron cage, but there was never a clash between the two men on the road to Grenoble on March 6, 1815. Ney will join the Emperor on March 15 (declaration of Lons-le-Saunier).
  • The mill where the Emperor rests does not exist in the topography of places [ref. necessary] . Rod Steiger who embodies it, appears in a scene with unshaven face, which is unthinkable: the emperor took care to be always glabrous [ref. necessary] .
  • Sergei Bondartchuk, a Russian, can not refrain from lending this phrase to Napoleon when he learns of the arrival of Blücher’s troops: “What did I not burn Berlin ! “. The Moscow fire is certainly present in the Russian memory[ref. necessary] but nothing in the texts indicates that Napoleon Bonaparte uttered this sentence [ref. necessary] .
  • The persistent noise of boots accompanying the movements of the Imperial Army may be deplored just as the Napoleonic infantry was wearing sneakers, clogs or shoes [ref. necessary] .
  • If there is mention of the battle of Ligny , during which the Prussians suffered the defeat against Napoleon on June 15, there is no real reference to the Battle of the Four-Arms which opposes Ney to Wellington the next day, two days before Waterloo.
  • Wellington, the generals and the English nobility dance the waltz in Brussels before the battle. Unlikely in 1815. The waltz, already well established in the Central Empires, was adopted by the English aristocracy only after 1820.


  1. ↑ Waterloo , article by Arte [1]  [ archive ] , accessed June 4, 2007

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