Marley Grillo

Written by Marley Grillo

Modified & Updated: 01 Jun 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith


Known for its epic scale and gripping portrayal of historical events, the movie Waterloo is a true cinematic masterpiece. Released in 1970, this historical drama directed by Sergei Bondarchuk tells the story of one of the most iconic battles in history – the Battle of Waterloo, which took place on June 18, 1815. Starring legendary actors such as Rod Steiger as Napoleon Bonaparte and Christopher Plummer as the Duke of Wellington, the film brilliantly captures the intensity and grandeur of the battle. Waterloo not only showcases the strategic genius and military tactics of the opposing forces, but also explores the human drama and sacrifices that unfolded on that fateful day. In this article, we delve into 42 fascinating facts about the making of this epic film, shedding light on its production, cast, and the historical accuracy that went into bringing this monumental battle to life on the big screen.

Key Takeaways:

  • “Waterloo” is a historical epic movie released in 1970, featuring a star-studded cast, massive battle scenes, and attention to historical accuracy, making it a landmark film in the genre of historical epics.
  • The movie portrays the Battle of Waterloo with real cannons, extensive research, and a focus on the human cost of war, earning critical acclaim and a Golden Globe award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Table of Contents

Waterloo was released in 1970.

Directed by Sergey Bondarchuk, Waterloo hit the big screens in 1970 and left a lasting impact on audiences.

It is a historical epic.

Waterloo narrates the famous Battle of Waterloo that took place in 1815, showcasing the clash between the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon Bonaparte.

The movie features an all-star cast.

With actors like Rod Steiger portraying Napoleon Bonaparte and Christopher Plummer as the Duke of Wellington, the film boasts an impressive lineup.

The battle scenes were massive.

Waterloo is known for its grand scale battle sequences, featuring thousands of soldiers and intricate details to recreate the historic events.

The film was shot in the Soviet Union.

Due to budget constraints, the production took place in the Soviet Union, utilizing their vast landscapes and resources for authenticity.

It holds the record for most on-screen extras.

Waterloo set a Guinness World Record for having the largest number of extras involved in a battle scene, totaling over 15,000 individuals.

The musical score was composed by Nino Rota.

Famed composer Nino Rota created the powerful and memorable soundtrack for the film, adding to the intensity of the battle sequences.

The movie faced numerous production challenges.

From inclement weather to logistical issues, Waterloo encountered several obstacles during its filming, contributing to the complexity of its production.

It was critically acclaimed for its historical accuracy.

Waterloo received praise for its attention to historical detail, ensuring that events and costumes were as faithful to the time period as possible.

The movie emphasizes the human cost of war.

Beyond the epic battles, Waterloo delves into the personal stories and sacrifices of soldiers, portraying the human side of warfare.

Real cannons were used during the production.

To achieve authenticity, the filmmakers incorporated real cannons in the battle scenes, creating a visually stunning experience.

The movie was released as a two-part epic.

Initially, Waterloo was released as a two-part film, allowing audiences to fully immerse themselves in the historical events depicted.

It was the most expensive Soviet film at the time.

Waterloo held the title for the most expensive Soviet film ever made during its release, showcasing the commitment to its grand production.

The battle sequences were meticulously choreographed.

To capture the chaos and intricacies of the battle, each scene was carefully planned and choreographed, showcasing meticulous attention to detail.

The movie showcases the tactical brilliance of the Duke of Wellington.

Waterloo portrays the strategic genius of the Duke of Wellington, highlighting his command and decision-making during the battle.

Napoleon Bonaparte is portrayed as both a military genius and a flawed leader.

The film humanizes Napoleon Bonaparte, showcasing his military prowess while also exploring his shortcomings as a leader.

Waterloo won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.

The film received international recognition, winning the prestigious Golden Globe award in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

The battle scenes were meticulously researched.

Extensive research was conducted to ensure accuracy in the battle scenes, including the placement of troops, weaponry, and uniform details.

Waterloo was filmed in Cinemascope.

The movie was shot in Cinemascope, a widescreen format that enhanced the visual experience and added to the grandeur of the production.

It was a joint production between the Soviet Union, Italy, and the United States.

Waterloo was a collaborative effort between multiple countries, combining resources and expertise to bring this historical epic to life.

The film showcases the multinational nature of the Battle of Waterloo.

Waterloo encapsulates the diverse range of nationalities involved in the historic battle, from British and French soldiers to Prussian and Dutch forces.

The battle scenes were filmed over several months.

Due to the scale and complexity of the battle sequences, filming took place over an extended period, ensuring every detail was captured.

The costumes were meticulously designed.

To accurately represent the attire of the time, the costumes were intricately designed, taking inspiration from historical references.

Waterloo received an Academy Award nomination.

The film was recognized by the Academy Awards with a nomination for Best Costume Design, highlighting the attention to detail in its visuals.

It took years to secure funding for the film.

Getting financing for Waterloo was no easy task, and the production faced numerous challenges in securing the necessary funds.

The movie features both practical and visual effects.

From explosive battle sequences to subtle visual enhancements, Waterloo combined practical and visual effects to create a realistic depiction of war.

The Battle of Waterloo marked the end of Napoleon’s reign.

Waterloo portrays the pivotal battle that led to Napoleon’s defeat and subsequent exile, marking the end of his reign as Emperor of France.

The film explores themes of leadership and sacrifice.

Through the portrayal of historical figures, Waterloo delves into the complexities of leadership and the sacrifices made during times of war.

It has a runtime of over two hours.

Waterloo, with its extensive battle sequences and rich storytelling, has a runtime of over two hours, allowing for a comprehensive exploration of the events.

The movie showcases the bravery and heroism of soldiers.

Waterloo pays tribute to the bravery and heroism displayed by soldiers on both sides of the conflict, highlighting their unwavering commitment to their cause.

The film was a box office success.

Despite its ambitious production and historical subject matter, Waterloo achieved success at the box office, attracting audiences worldwide.

The movie was shot in multiple languages.

Due to its multinational production, Waterloo was filmed with actors delivering their lines in different languages, later dubbed or subtitled for distribution.

The film provides a balanced portrayal of both sides of the conflict.

Waterloo strives to present a balanced perspective, showcasing the motivations and actions of both the French and Allied forces during the battle.

It features stunning cinematography.

The cinematography in Waterloo captures the scale and intensity of the battle, utilizing sweeping shots and dynamic camera movements to immerse viewers in the action.

The movie showcases the role of cavalry in warfare.

Waterloo highlights the importance of cavalry units during the Battle of Waterloo, depicting the impact they had on the outcome of the conflict.

The film received praise for its detailed production design.

Waterloo’s production design was highly regarded, with meticulous attention to recreating the settings, uniforms, and overall atmosphere of the time period.

Real historical figures are depicted in the movie.

Waterloo includes the portrayal of real historical figures such as Napoleon Bonaparte, the Duke of Wellington, and Gebhard von Blücher.

The movie has a large ensemble cast.

Alongside the main characters, Waterloo features a large ensemble cast, representing the various regiments and units involved in the Battle of Waterloo.

It emphasizes the horrors of war.

Waterloo does not shy away from depicting the brutalities and devastating consequences of war, showcasing the human toll it takes on individuals and societies.

The film explores the complexities of leadership.

Through the characters of Napoleon and Wellington, Waterloo delves into the intricate dynamics of leadership, examining the responsibilities and challenges that come with it.

The movie received positive reviews for its battle scenes.

Critics praised Waterloo for its realistic and immersive battle sequences, which were considered some of the most impressive in cinema at the time.

Waterloo remains a landmark film in historical epics.

Decades after its release, Waterloo continues to be regarded as a significant film in the genre of historical epics, setting a high standard for subsequent productions.


Waterloo is a truly extraordinary film that brings to life one of the most significant battles in history. With its impressive production value, stellar performances, and meticulous attention to detail, the movie offers viewers a gripping and immersive experience. Whether you are a history enthusiast or simply enjoy epic war films, Waterloo is a must-watch. It showcases the power of cinema to transport audiences to another era and capture the intensity and intricacies of a historical event.


1. Who directed the movie Waterloo?

Waterloo was directed by Sergei Bondarchuk, a renowned Russian filmmaker and actor.

2. When was the movie Waterloo released?

Waterloo was released in 1970.

3. What is the running time of Waterloo?

The movie has a running time of 2 hours and 14 minutes.

4. Who are the main actors in Waterloo?

Waterloo features an impressive ensemble cast including Rod Steiger as Napoleon Bonaparte and Christopher Plummer as the Duke of Wellington.

5. Is the movie historically accurate?

While there may be some fictional elements in the film, it stays true to the overall historical events of the Battle of Waterloo.

6. How was the battle sequence filmed?

The battle sequences in Waterloo were filmed with an enormous number of extras and intricate choreography to recreate the scale and intensity of the conflict.

7. Did Waterloo receive any awards or nominations?

Yes, Waterloo was nominated for two Academy Awards and won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.

8. Can I watch Waterloo on streaming platforms?

Waterloo is available on various streaming platforms like Amazon Prime Video and YouTube.

9. What makes Waterloo unique compared to other war movies?

Waterloo stands out for its grand scale and ambitious production, as well as its focus on character development alongside the battle sequences.

10. Is Waterloo worth watching?

Absolutely! Waterloo is an epic historical film that offers a captivating portrayal of a legendary battle, making it a must-watch for movie enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

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