Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, with a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that


Sunday, 13 June 2021

Waterloo - new BluRay limited edition

 I pre-ordered the limited-edition BluRay re-issue of Bondarchuk's 1970 movie, like a good chap, and yesterday a parcel plonked through my door. I haven't watched it yet.


I probably bought this in the same spirit that I would buy another new Liverpool FC coffee mug - loyalty as much as direct interest. The pack includes various posters and booklets and promotional materials - including replicas from 1970; the actual digital material includes sound-track excerpts, a 30-minute documentary about the making of the film and an extra version of the movie with audio commentary added by Simon Lewis. Lewis is a screen writer and author - he has no particular connection with the topic (apart from the fact that he is writing a book about the production of the 1970 film, to be published by BearManorMedia sometime in 2021), so his commentary is on the detail of the filming rather than the history, but there is also military input added by Robert Pocock, the Napoleonic expert [who?] - fair enough - I'll certainly watch that. I'll also watch out for the book, and apparently someone is working on a documentary film about Bondarchuk - if you want to know any more about this, have a look at Lewis's Facebook page Waterloo1970Book - I won't attempt a direct link to FB here, since they never work, but I've seen the page, so I know it exists.

The movie itself, apart from a digital clean-up, is undoctored - the legendary missing scenes are not included (lost forever, it seems), so the Prussian cavalry will still enter the fray carrying their sabres in their left hands, so that they may be seen charging from left-to-right (same direction as the Scots Greys), which the director decided would be less confusing for the audience.

There have been earlier BluRay reissues - the customer reviews for these have been poor, with complaints about Region compatibility and Vietnamese subtitles - stuff like that. I am not expecting to be particularly excited - nor disappointed - by my new purchase. As with the allegorical football mug, the coffee will be pretty much the same. I'll give it a spin next weekend.

Lewis certainly gets a good plug of his forthcoming book. I know nothing of his previous CV, so I shall reserve judgement, though I note with some alarm that in the past he has worked on a film script with the dreaded Dan M Brown - presumably Lewis contributed the bits that weren't pinched from Wikipedia, and corrected the grammar and punctuation.

So - new movie reissue pack in HD - haven't watched it yet - I've seen the original movie more times than I'm prepared to admit, so there may not be too many surprises. 

Quite happy so far. I'll probably mention this again.

 

***** Late Edit *****

This is just for Rodger...


 
*********************


28 comments:

  1. Waterloo like The Charge of the Light Brigade are films I always enjoy watching…
    I clearly have a deep affection for them as I no longer shout abuse at the screen when I get to the more ‘creative’ scenes…

    All the best. Aly

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The physical extras in the box include a "perfect-bound" booklet with extra photos and an overview of Waterloo. The narrative includes the incident where Ney is present with the force which intercepts Napoleon - which, as far as I am aware, only happened in the movie. Oh well - let's skip the abuse!

      Perfect binding, as you will be aware, is a special technique which ensures that the pages will fall out if you open it wide enough to read...

      Delete
  2. I remember seeing it , spent some of my first pay cheque on one of the 'better' seats at the Palladium - sadly knocked down many moons ago . Still a great film though .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent - which Palladium was that, Tony?

      I originally saw it at the ABC in Edinburgh.

      Delete
    2. The Palladium in Kendal - long long since demolished

      Delete
    3. Great stuff. I have some fond memories of Lake District cinemas during wet holidays! - I first saw Lord of the Rings at a cinema in Bowness on Windermere - the Royalty?

      Delete
    4. Here you go - a cinema with battlements - 3 cinemas in Kendal, back in the day, it says.

      http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/44544

      Delete
  3. I have lost count how many times I’ve watched this movie and I enjoy it every time. Years ago I recorded the music and all those famous quotes which I would then play during games to the annoyance of everyone else ! ūü§£ actually it went down rather well as I’d also bought various LP’s of French Napoleonic military music and British Marches etc so it was all rather good fun

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't tried it yet, but apparently the "soundtrack" feature is a version of the full film with no speech - just sound effects and music. Hmmm?

      Delete
  4. One of my all time favourites!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Matt - yes, indeed. A feature of my wargames with Stryker and Goya is a requirement to punctuate the proceedings with quotes from Waterloo - if they are appropriate that's good, but it doesn't really matter.

      I am reminded of my #3 son - when he was 7 or 8 he watched "Zulu" over and over (on VHS) - eventually he not only knew the entire script but he also knew the Zulu chants and songs, word perfect. I am pleased to remember which jacket I left my car keys in, these days, so that does impress me.

      Delete
  5. Watched it a few times too. Love it! Love the mug too. YNWA.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheers Rodger - I added a Late Edit for you...

      Delete
    2. Excellent,that is brilliant!

      Delete
  6. Ton, this 'fan cut' has a bit more of Ligny in it (mainly stills, but a bit of video too)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgdoeFrXvPI
    James

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for this James - I used to have a link to this, but (of course) I lost it, so I'm pleased to have it again.

      Delete
  7. A couple of weeks ago I got hold of a copy of the Waterloo paperback by Frederick Smith that accompanied the release of the film. It's based on the screen-play so will be a great source of dialogue for whenever we can resume games! I remember borrowing a copy from someone at school back in the day and was enthralled - happy to say I am just as hooked this time around. As it is taken from the screen-play you can deduce what scenes may have been cut from the film, there is a lot more about Quatre Bras and Ligny!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ian - excellent! I had a look at an eBay auction for an elderly copy of this book last year, but the bidding went beyond what I was prepared to pay. I used to have a copy - maybe 40 years ago - and it fell apart! I hadn't realised that Fred E Smith was actually quite a famous chap, having written 633 Squadron (I think).

      My fave bit of the book (and I always go on about this - so much so that I'm no longer sure whether I've convinced myself that it exists!) is about Bl√ľcher's horse getting shot under him at Ligny, where I'm pretty sure that the book says "suddenly a shot rang out", which suggested to me that the Battle of Ligny was conducted in something like total silence otherwise - maybe they threw giant pompoms at each other. The whole idea of a shot suddenly ringing out at Ligny was quite an eye-opener for me - really, I was interested in getting a copy of the book just to prove to myself that my memory was correct, but if you felt moved to have a quick squint sometime, you could help put an old man out of his misery! [It probably doesn't say it at all...]

      I couldn't understand why they didn't do a fantouche BluRay reissue in 2015, but they have held it back until the 50th anniversary of the movie (plus 1 year delay). Maybe that makes more sense (apart from the delay).

      I have now watched the 30-minute documentary about the making of the movie - I hadn't realised what a bunch of unknowns the supporting cast were, and the extent to which the dialogue was dubbed in.

      I knew that Picton's voice is dubbed, since Jack Hawkins had previously had his larynx removed, but Mrs De Lancey is played by Dino de Laurentis's daughter, who was not an actress and had no English at all, so she is obviously dubbed. Soult is played by an Italian, so the mysterious McSoult Scottish voice was dubbed by an unknown actor. The blond soldier who breaks out of the square, shouting "why? (etc)" was an unknown Russian, who spoke no English, and so on. Some of the actors did very little thereafter - Richard Heffer (Cavalier Mercer) did relatively minor parts afterwards, as far as I can see, and so did Peter Davies (Lord Hay), who was 17 years old at the time and had never been in a film before. This is all show-biz tittle-tattle, but quite interesting for all that!

      The presence on the BluRay disc of a full length sound-effects-and-music-only version is really pretty weird - it would take a rare devotee to be prepared to sit through all of that, though maybe we could start quoting sound effects as well. A bottle or two of wine would help.

      The scene on the balcony, shouting to the crowds in Grenoble, was shot in Italy, as were all the scenes at "Versailles". The battle and campaign scenes were shot in Crimea, I think.

      Enough. I need to come up with a new, show-stopping quote, so I'll need to work at this.

      Delete
    2. Page 69 - "A shot rang out and Blucher's horse fell". I got a copy for three quid on eBay!

      Delete
    3. Excellent - thanks for that! - you've made a happy man very old...

      Delete
  8. Since the theme of this excellent post is party about the pleasure of 'repeats', may I repeat my observation that while watching this film I kept expecting the Duke of Wellington to whip out a guitar and give us a few bars of 'Edelweiss'?
    I'll get my cloak, and bicorne hat..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The deleted scenes section and the commentary make it apparent that Plummer's campfire singalong sequence at Mont St Jean was cut out fairly early, as was the bit where he makes a dramatic entrance at the Duchess of Richmond's ball, flings off his white cloak and goes into a breakdance routine. I'm learning a lot here.

      I've also learned that the original hope was to get Richard Burton to play Napoleon, and Peter O'Toole (I think) Wellington.

      Delete
    2. interesting, I think I can 'see' Burton and O'Toole. Nights in the bar might have been lively, too (though I gather Chris Plummer liked the sherbets,too..)

      Delete
  9. This has been an education! Thanks fellahs.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sorry - a bit late to the discussion. Interesting stuff about the new BluRay and its associated material. Thanks. I've always felt a bit ambivalent about the film, although I certainly enjoyed it at the time, and I do have the DVD of it which I watch from time to time. I first saw it when it came out in 1970 when I was 15; it was at the Cecil Cinema in Hull (that should be Kingston upon Hull, of course ;-)). In those days films had accompanying booklets and I still have the Waterloo one, somewhat tatty now, with lots of shots from the film. (I'm sure it's still in copyright or I'd be happy to scan it and let people who want one have a copy.) Teenagers can be rather over-critical, of course, and I remember at school after seeing the film showing people the booklet which has a picture of a "dead" highlander in a square with a modern wristwatch on his arm, and the troops carrying bolt-action rifles, as presumably muskets were in short supply. The huge cuts in the final version do tend to make some of the scenes rather nonsensical, such as the Scots Greys (where were the rest of the Union Brigade?) charging into nothingness. I'm glad they made the film but it does seem like a missed opportunity to produce a really excellent film about Waterloo. And didn't the relative box office failure of the film put Kubrick off making his Napoleon film (and perhaps others from making films about the Napoleonic period)? We did end up with Barry Lyndon instead, so perhaps it's not all loss. :-) There may be few very good films about the Napoleonic period but films with much to say about the Seven Years War are very rare indeed...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi David - the film certainly has a few imperfections, but it is so much better than anything else that ever was (or will be) made that I guess I am happy to love it with its flaws! If someone now were to make a "really excellent" film about Waterloo then God bless them, but it would be CGI, and there would have to subplots about a video gamer and a girl with superpowers, or they wouldn't get the budget.

      As a friend said to me last week (completely unconsciously, though I have pulled his leg about it subsequently), we probably have to accept that these days Napoleon is a bit old hat...

      Delete
    2. Yes, you're right, of course; how many Waterloo films are there? ;-) The film is certainly very nostalgic for me; I went to see it with a friend with whom I shared a fascination for the Napoleonic period and with whom I frequently wargamed. He was a very talented artist. Sadly, he died at 40 so memories of seeing the film are very much linked to memories of him.

      I am often surprised by the passion many people still have for the Napoleonic period and especially those who think Napoleon was a hero; that old hat still has much power, it seems! I'm currently enjoying reading Oman's monumental Peninsular War which has a lot to say about Napoleon's share in the monumental cock-ups of that war. Of course, Oman is Anglocentric but I think the facts do speak for themselves. What is that saying about war? Oh yes; the winner tends to be the one who makes the fewest cock-ups... ;-)

      Delete
    3. As for how many other Waterloo films there are in existence, I have to say I have no idea. There may be films which refer to aspects of it, but I'm stumped if I can think of any! I first saw Bondarchuk's movie at the Edinburgh Film Festival, which I thought for years was the UK premiere, but it seems not - certainly Plummer and McKenna were guests of honour, and also the pipe-major of the Gordons!

      I have been an enthusiast of the Napoleonic period since I was about 11, for family reasons which are still precious to me. There is a lot of hocum, and a lot of mad devotees, but I still find it fascinating.

      Big gold stars for Oman's History - by contemporary standards, old Sir Charles was hardly Anglocentric at all. I have spent quite a bit of the last few years trying to catch up with the Spanish part in that war, and I find the most compelling bit of that whole saga Suchet's campaigns in the North East.

      The other saying which comes to mind is that in war the winner tends to get to write the official histories! All good stuff - thanks for this.

      Delete