Roll slow, be gentle, eat healthy, look out for your vulnerable friends and neighbours, minimize TV, start a novel, watch all the foreign films you’ve always meant to, crack open War & Peace like you should’ve years ago / hit me up if you need some podcasts or train videos #hugs
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?
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?
Have you read “War and Peace”? Now is a pretty good time.
It’s rather enjoyable￼, but if you find Tolstoy’s original *too long*, both Lenin and I did “remix” or maybe “fanfiction” of the classic.
It’s one of the only things we have in common.
PS May I interest you in my “Letters from Russia” mixed media project? It was inspired by Tolstoy and written in the form of letters from someone in Napoleon’s army going into Russia in 1812 back home to his lady friend – All associated artifacts are within this archive.
What follow is a transcription of a talk called “Are You Worthy – Publishing from Greeks to Geeks” at Wordcamp Whistler in 2009. Video and audio exists, as does a “round-up” of photos, tweets, artifacts, and so on. See “Consider Perusing” below.
Speaker:We really hoped you enjoyed today and I think you’re going to enjoy this last session. I’ve been looking forward to it since we started planning this. So with that I’m going to turn over to Dave Olson, he’s going to ask you, “Are you Worthy?”
Dave:So, it’s the end of the day, my brain is a little stretched — a lot of input, a lot of stuff. So, if you feel a little antsy, because frankly taking notes — I don’t know if I’m going to say anything that’s really worth taking notes.
I’m just putting this out there, if you want to come and sit down here or you want to pull your chair over, I’m an old hippie, so I was on dead tour. It’s all right you can come and sit down if you want. No big deal by the way. I’ll give you a moment to do that.
My ulterior motive for asking you to do that is that I didn’t bring anything to put on the projector. But I have lots of little odds and ends here. So, you’ll get a better view if you come and sit up front. That’s the way I like it — special shout-out to the ladies right back there.
I almost said I didn’t make any slides but I did make two slides here because people are always telling me that, “Dave, we really like your presentations, but damn it, would you give us a bulleted list?”
The life of the author of War and Peace was a remarkable drama
Count Leo Tolstoy was more than just a novelist – he was a soldier, a philosopher, the founder of a new religion, and an eccentric humanist. A cultural and moral authority, in his later years he suffered an existential crisis that ultimately led him to a lonely death.
On back porch, Uncle Weed shares a personal message to the chooglers international followed by a spiel about tactics to resist a golf course incident induced corporate drug test using vigilance, friendly lawyers, a trip to Belize w/ broken wrist, and Tolstoy’s War + Peace.
In prep for a chat on “Write Now! The Art & Action of Letter Writing w/ DJ Snail Mail” on Free Radio Santa Cruz’s about my Letters from Russia project, i jotted down some a bit of backstory which i’m posting here lest i misplace and to share with others with interest. So, … here ya go :
I started writing LfR while at an Evergreen College week long course “Poets and Philosophers Discuss Love and War” at Lake Crescent, WA. I had prepared with much reading about the historical context so i could make the story accurate. I then charted out the philosophical topics to address during Herni’s political transformation and personal journey.
I wrote each letter separately, handwritten on different papers and different writing instruments and only taking a piece or two to keep the letters brief and intense. Each letter was written while out on a walk/hike (so i could be in character a bit i suppose) and i didn’t edit from the original letters at all.
I lived overseas (Japan, Micronesia) quite a bit pre-Internet so am an enthusiast of printed letters and papercraft (I collect paper ephemera from trips).
I’d very much like to find someone with some deeper historical knowledge to give a read to see if there are glaring historical
inaccuracies – though i am sure on the dates and locations – before distributing the piece more broadly.
As for me, I choose to forge my own place in history, to determine by own ends rather than subject my precious life for the exclusive use of any man – monarch or otherwise. Without my freedom to be what, and who, I choose, I have lost all! No matter how in- significant my life’s work, at the least my life is of my own choosing and my labours, at my own volition. My action, my loves, my thoughts will determine my life’s significance, and I will not surrender to fate’s whims. I alone will live this life and this value I will not compromise.
It has been a journey of horrific proportions since I last was able to chance a letter.
The cold is equaled only by the depravity of desperate humans in its numbing pain. And yesterday, my friend Maurice joined the untold thousands of dead – scattered, abandoned aside the muddy cart path, deep-rutted in the frozen earth.
Littered with wreckage – dead horses, men frozen solid, eyes gaping, boots taken. Many stumble barefoot roasting frostbitten toes by their final fire. Pillages of war dumped – no weight or relic worthy of any carrying. Golden candle sticks, Persian rugs – objects of decadence, objects of art, holy relics – deserted now.
One must survive by wits and cunning and in that, my dear Maurice helped me along so much. He appeared one morning (though there is little difference between day & night – just walking and not-walking), with a sturdy walking cane for me! He was the one who coaxed me each dreadful day as we trudge into uncertain horizons. Oh the peace he feels now, free of this madness!
As I sit looking down from the hilltop, watching as thousands fall dead – by bullet, by Cossack sword, or pushed into the icy river with the mob pushing across. For me, there is little chance of me making my way across the bridge, not alone, not without help from my friend.
Surely when the officers have crossed, the bridge will be destroyed like so many bro- ken dreams – leaving the Russians and French separated as we began. I will not rush to death, rather for me, I will have the courage to determine my own fate to stride purposefully and resolutely, free of heart, clean of conscience, ruling only my sovereign self.
For you – for the days we missed together & the years in which we‘ll never part – I will find a way to survive. For the thousands of dead faces I have seen, and for Maurice, I renounce this war but pledge that I will not let this tragic madness defeat me.
My dear Genevieve, look for me in the spring, my return will be later than hoped.
I write with haste (tucked under a rug for a tarp) so I can send this note straight by messenger to you in Paris. We, since yesterday, have been ordered into retreat and as such are retracing (I assume) our route and trust only to hope that we survive. When it became clear we would not stay over winter in Moscow, the looting, pillaging & other monstrosities in the name of spoils erupted as these scavengers made away with every shiny trifle they could seize from anyone weaker – no matter their standing. I loathe the disgusting manner of how we humans can treat each other when exposed to the harsh certainty that death has eluded you so far and your chances may be up soon.
I will spare you details but will assure you of my preparedness I have made. I managed to cobble together the best pair of boots I could manage. I made two pairs giving one set to Maurice who obtained scraps of luxurious fur which I carefully sewed inside. The soles are double thickness and, in mine I placed some felt to prop and protect my limping leg somewhat. The outside leather is sealed with candle wax, I scuffed the leather to hide the quality lest some drunkard attempt to steal them – though it would require great force for me to surrender my boots – without which would mean certain peril in these treacherous conditions. I also have a warm coat (the heaviest I could find) and a supply of candles and dry tinder.
Now my sweet, please do not concern yourself unduly, but in seeing the savagery of death around me for so many months & knowing the inhospitable lands ahead, I must tell you two things and request one of you, in event I am unable to return.
To you, please know that no one has ever been loved more by anyone than I love you. You are fantastically adored & amazingly admired. You stir the very nature of my soul & fulfill me as a man and as a person. If I do not return to sit with you on the veranda drinking wine in the afternoon, please allow yourself to find someone else to spend glorious days with. Please do not settle! Any suitor must be worthy and aware of your refinements, intelligent and vigorous spirit.
For me, please bind these letters and store them somewhere safe in hopes that one day my discourse may help another generation avoid such madness.
Again I write to you in haste after too long a month. The situation found here in Moscow has worsened greatly and we continue to live as a captives rather than conquerors. I have scant reason to hope, but if only to hang onto my senses and precious sanity which as abandoned so many here.
The ‘Grand Armie’ looting, destroying, pillaging – decimated and surrendered to their basest, barest traits. Greed and fear rule this city of ashes, destroyed as a desperate hope for some, but fuelled by the debauchery of ours. More than shaming themselves, they risk the common ability for survival as these winds & clouds grow in strength each day.
The Russians’ Alexander continues to ignore N.’s letters of surrender, etc. How can he be blamed in mistrusting N.’s advances since the public scorn he felt after since Tilsit and now the surrender of Moscow? Meanwhile, N. issues decrees to mitigate the suffer- ing of the stragglers left here who aren’t already shot or starved. Promises of kindness & benefit to any that come out of hiding & bring their vegetables or butter to market. What! Would anyone bring their labours to benefit a usurper of their lands? To them, he is no liberator or revolutionary. To them, he is not a brilliant general & able to fair administrator – he is a tyrant to them & to others, many of which serve in his army.
Save for famine or plague, there is no greater evil than occupation by an enemy, no matter how well mannered, jovial, cordial or able the enemy is. To spread a revolution or reform must be accomplished as a friend & with openness, sincerity and not at the sacrifice of so many lives. So many thousands of lives around me, reduced to animals smashing greedily into each cellar, reducing grandeur into rubble. The discipline is gone – Napoleon does not command these hoarders. They are controlled only by their overwhelming desires for self-preservation regardless of means.
I however my love am determined to survive. I am cautiously preparing for the inevitable cold as I await a chance to simply live in peace again – but I fear there is no escape if not soon.