Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Sean Bean, Daragh O'Malley, Abigail Cruttenden, Alexis Denisof, CÚcile Paoli
Director: Tom Clegg
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Television, Military & War
Life seems to have settled down for British Officer Richard Sharpe as he enjoys a much-deserved rest at a French chateau with his new love, Lucille. However, the news of Napoleon's return from exile drives Sharpe back to t... more »
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Buy the DVD, grit your teeth, then read the book
M. Price | Palo Alto, CA USA | 10/13/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I became enchanted by the Sharpe series by watching the series on TV. The chemistry between Sharpe (Sean Bean) and Harper(Daragh O'Malley), the struggle of the compentent Sharpe to get recognition and authority within the rigid class structure of the British Army (makes you wonder how the British army could have been so successful in the 19th century), the wary relationship between the Spanish and the British, the fantastic luck that keeps Sharpe and Harper alive, and the characterization of even temporary characters all presented against the background of the peninsular campaign during the Napoleonic wars, I found fascinating and moving. Sean Bean plays a much more compelling character here than in any of his villianous movie roles (e.g. Bond).Of course, I looked forward eagerly to the release of the series on DVD.In the meantime, I read all of the books. Since the completion of the television series, Bernard Cornwell has extended the story of
Sharpe both before the peninsula campaign and after Waterloo. The books are far richer than the TV series, but this doesn't detract from the series at all. The series generally stands on its own but the books add considerable depth, background, and context.The last episode in the series, Sharpe's Waterloo, suffers more in comparison with the book, because the underlying events are familiar. 100 minutes is hardly engough time to explain the manner in which the battle of Waterloo unfolded and to develop the several other story threads involving Sharpe. Still, it is fine culmination to the series.As in all of the DVDs in this series, the video quality is poor. This has been mentioned by other reviewers but needs some explanation. The color is good, the video has little noise, and there are no surprizing artifacts. The problem is image resolution. The DVD is encoded at 4.35Mbites/sec with almost no variation responding to changes in scene or motion. This is low: the Abyss, a high-quality DVD transfer, is encoded at 5.79Mbites/sec with occasional bursts at over 7Mbits/sec. The difference is dramtic. All of the Sharpe DVDs are fuzzy and lack detail; they appear to be out of focus. There are not enough pixels in the image to provide a good image on even a small TV screen. And forget about watching these on a large screen.Still I recommend this series. Buy the DVDs, put your chair across the room, and enjoy. At the end you'll want more. That's the time to buy the books."
Terence Chua | Singapore | 05/12/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Here we are, after thirteen hundred glorious minutes, at the last hundred minutes of the TV adventures of Richard Sharpe. After the events of "Sharpe's Justice", Sharpe has returned to Normandy to Lucille, as he promised, never to fight another battle. Except: it is now the summer of 1815 - Napoleon Bonaparte has left his exile on the island of Elba, marching across France and calling his loyal troops back to him. The Hundred Days have started, the final gasp of the Napoleonic Wars. Sharpe's greatest regret has been that he has never faced Boney in battle, so off he goes to war, his Chosen Men back at his side. But Wellington places him on the staff of the Prince of Orange, young, arrogant and incompetent - his adulterous wife, Jane wants her lover, Rossendale, to kill him - and Napoleon has humbugged them all, quickly and efficiently splitting the Anglo-Dutch and Prussian armies apart, to destroy each individually. Will Sharpe survive this? Boney's attacking, the Prussians have still not arrived to give aid, and the fate of Europe will be decided in this little valley near a town called Waterloo...Bernard Cornwell's original novel, "Waterloo: Sharpe's Final Adventure", was masterful - it managed to weave an exciting personal story for Sharpe and at the same time give an understanding of how this most famous of battles unfolded. Unfortunately, "Sharpe's Waterloo" doesn't really do that. I could follow it because I already knew how the battle progressed, but I would think the viewer who knows little about what happened that day wouldn't be able to follow the grand scheme of battle. As a result, we see Sharpe take part in various bits of the battle but never quite get why each is important. On the other hand, one could argue that this shows the fog of war from the soldier's perspective - that the individual didn't really know how the big picture was forming up. This isn't particularly convincing to me, because I've seen it done magnificently in Ted Turner's production of "Gettysburg", and with a good script I don't see why it can't be done here.Also, the same budgetary limitations that have plagued the series also show up here. One doesn't get the impression in the slightest that this was a battle than involved more than 300,000 men, all in all, on all sides. We never get much more than one regiment at a time on screen and the final advance of the Imperial Guard as a result winds up looking pretty wimpy. Given this was the grand finale, I had hoped they would splurge a bit, but sadly this was not the case.On the positive side, the acting is cracking as usual and loose ends are (more or less) tied up. The battle at La Haye Sainte is particularly well done, even given the budgetary problems. Sharpe does a lot of swordplay and firing and realizes his dream of commanding a battalion. We see the deaths of beloved and hated characters, and Harper and Sharpe finally get their wish - to see Boney. The rest, as they say, is history, and you're going to have to watch it to find out what happens to our heroes. The transfer, like the latter few episodes, is surprisingly good compared to the earlier DVDs - one wishes heartily that they could have put some extras in, though. About time for them to adapt "Sharpe's Devil" one of these days, I think..."
Yes I do like the series
M. La Vean | Michigan | 12/21/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I like the series so I am not objective in viewing this a stand alone.I am very plesed that the budgets have become much bigger as the series progressed. Far more extra's, more horses (some of them actually moving together as cavalry should) more variety of uniforms and nice settings.I look at period/costume pieces for more than just a plot...I am looking for an escape in time...the Sharpe Series does this for me (as does the Hornblower's)I am looking for a "feel"...for 90 minutes I want to believe I am in another world...I want the flavor of what it was like to live in another time, doing historic things.Sharpe's Waterloo does a good job at making me feel I am actually there at the defence of La Haye Sainte...there is no examination of the whole battle...just the worm's eye view of the men who had to hold the gate...So if you want the glamor and the big picture...maybe this isn't for you...however,if you want to pick up a rifle and help hold a key spot on the battlefield in a fighting that was desperate...then this is definitely for you."
Richard Sharpe fights his final battle at Waterloo
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 10/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The cross fans of Bernard Cornwell's maverick British officer Richard Sharpe have had to deal with in these fourteen films have been the depictions of Napoleonic War battles. Because of budget limitations military engagements are played out with dozens of soldiers, rather than the thousands that were usually engaged in the real battles. However, while they are still working with only dozens of soldiers in recreating the Battle of Waterloo in this final installment, there is a concerted effort by director Tom Clegg to pull out all the stops and fake it as well as they can. The result is that "Sharpe's Waterloo" provides a fitting finale to our hero's service in the Duke of Wellington's army.
At the start of this one Napoleon has grown tired of his exile on Elba and returned to France, where his army is flocking to him as he heads for Paris. Sharpe (Sean Bean) is in Normandy with Lucille (Cécile Paoli) when word comes that Boney is back for one last big fight and he has to rejoin Wellington (Hugh Fraser) to see this one through to the end. Harris (Jason Salkey) and Hagman (John Tams) join him as well and even Patrick Harper (Daragh O'Malley) shows up, although he has not re-enlisted. Sharpe is now a leftenant colonel, his position bought for him by Prince William of Orange (Paul Bettany), commander of the Dutch forces in the Allied army, who is glad to have the heroic Sharpe on his staff. The problem is that the prince is an inept military commander at best and a coward at worse, which he has several opportunities to show during the course of the battle.
Meanwhile, Jane Sharpe (Abigail Cruttenden), tired of the slights of polite society because she has abandoned her war hero husband and now is shacked up with Lord Rossendale (Alexis Denisof), wants her lover to kill Sharpe during the confusion of battle. We get graphic proof that Rossendale is not up to confronting Sharpe in a duel when the two show up at the last formal party before the battle. Sharpe no longer wants Jane back (and why Rossendale wants her now that Sharpe's money is all but spent is beyond me as well), he just wants the money. But if there is one thing I have learned from watching Sharpe's adventures it is that it is the rare time indeed that our hero will kill someone he needs to kill.
The conceit of "Sharpe's Waterloo" is that our hero manages to be in the thick of the fighting during the battle. The military situation was that Bonaparte was facing an Anglo-Dutch force of 77,000 under Wellington and a Prussian army of 102,000 commanded by Field Marshal Blucher. Napoleon had 72,000 men and a detached right-wing corps of 33,000 under Marshal Grouchy in between the two opposing forces to prevent them from linking up and crushing his army. On June 16, 1815 Bonaparte defeated the Prussians at Ligny, while at the same time Wellington had held a vital set of crossroads at Quatre Bras against Marshal Ney. Of course, Sharpe and his Chosen Men are there. At that point Napoleon detached Grouchy to keep the Prussians in retreat and away from Wellington at Waterloo while he turned his main strength towards the British.
The next day Wellington's army was drawn up across a small ridge at Mont St John, just south of the village of Waterloo, anchored by a series of strong points, the center one of which was the farmhouse of La Haye Sainte, which is where Sharpe and the Prince of Orange end up. The battle is obviously the main action here and there is the whole bit of how the animosity between Sharpe and Rossendale will play out, but the other key part of his one is Sharpe's troubles with "Silly Billy" as the prince comes to be known (there are worst things to call him, which involve a silk stocking filled with something not very nice, a phrase that, ironically, was historically Napoleon's descripton of his foreign minister Talleyrand, a master of diplomatic intrigue). The Prince of Orange repeatedly made mistakes that ended up with entire battalions of troops being destroyed or routed during Waterloo and after serving under a string of titled officers who were worse than butchers our hero finally reaches his breaking point. The straws that break the camel's back will strike fans of the series to the heart while those who know all about the battle will be impressed with how well Cornwell has integrated his characters into its key points.
After La Haye Sainte fell in the center of Wellington's line, the British commander called in all of his reserves. At that point Napoleon ordered the advance of his most feared troops, the Imperial Guard. At the pivotal moment and place on the battlefield, there is Richard Sharpe. One of the nice touches of "Sharpe's Waterloo" is the preoccupation of Sharpe and Harper with getting to see old Boney himself. After all these years and all the miles fought against Napoleon's troops in Portugal, Spain and France, the two old soldiers would just like to see the face of the enemy just once before the end.
If you have ever seen a British square in battle then you know it is a memorable seen. Your most recent opportunity would be the latest remake of "The Four Feathers" with Heath Ledger, but I do remember seeing Sergei Bondarchuk's 1970 film "Waterloo" with the long distance shot of several British squares being attacked by French cavalry. When I watched the mini-series "Napoleon" I could but only imagine what the Sharpe series would have done with that many bodies in all those wonderful costumes. But what "Sharpe's Waterloo" loses in scope it makes up for with the parts played by the characters we have come to know so well. A tip of the cap to Clegg for coming up with a memorable final shot of Sharpe before the credits role for the last time.