Tag Archives: bondarchuk

Diary: War and Peace rolls mightily… (in various forms)

Movie time: War and Peace

To be clear: this is the 1959 Hollywood/King Vidor version with Audrey Hepburn and Henry Fonda and others… There are several adaptations of the classic Tolstoy novel and this frankly, is not the best by any measure. Even at 208 minutes the story is incredibly compressed and huge critical chunks simply cut out. It really lacks in its reliance on camera trickery which, perhaps was innovative at the time, but has the feeling of “clean it up in post“… Especially with the sound editing/mixing, it’s a mess. All that said, I totally enjoy it Mostly because of Audrey.

There’s is a much longer Soviet-era Russian adaptation (7 hrs) by auteur Sergei Bondarchuk (co-wrote, directs and acts) from 1967 / it’s endlessly wonderfully long, came out in a series in Russian language (naturally) with various French and German as needed. It’s truly epic so you got to settle in / plan for the long-haul / rousing battle & party scenes interspersed with slow contemplative vignettes. The actors arent as pretty/shiny as other versions but hey, realism (I have this one of three long VHS tapes).

Then, there’s a BBC series from 2016 which is in general very well done – aside from a few casting choices which I for some reason find incredibly annoying (but I’m kind of like that). Pacing is good and cinematography is often great. if you’re going to settle in for one, this is probably the best all-arounder/entry point. Lily James is a worthy Natasha.

Another good all-arounder albeit a bit melodrama-esque came in a 2007 series. An international production so well done on various languages & casting actors from different cultures / a bit hard to find as was made for European release. 

There is also a 1972 British made TV series and a 1915 b&w film, neither of which I’ve seen.

Have you seen any of the series? Any opinions on a favorite? Have you read the book?

I mean, if not now, when?

##

Note:

Ted says: The Soviet version is one of the most amazing films ever made I think. It’s now on a criterion Blu-ray release.

I reply: indeed, the backstory of the creation is just as epic as well. He had free rein to state museums, use of the Army personnel and helicopters etc / Must get my hands on the criterion as I’ve only watched on the VHS tapes which, leave a little bit to be desired.

Ted: Factoring the current rate of exchange, it supposedly the most expensive film ever made. Like 800 million or something.

Me: Epic in every sense of the word! Although hard to calculate the true cost of the budget with all of the government resources/access use. Have you seen any of the other versions? Comments?