War & Peace (2016)
7.6/10
669
2 user 7 critic

Episode #1.1 

As Napoleon's army marches towards Russia, Pierre Bezukhov visits his dying father, unaware that his relations are scheming to have him disinherited, while Prince Andrei Bolkonsky leaves his wife behind as he prepares to join the war.

Director:

Tom Harper

Writers:

Leo Tolstoy (based on the book by), Andrew Davies
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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Mathieu Kassovitz ... Napoleon Bonaparte
Paul Dano ... Pierre Bezukhov
Rebecca Front ... Anna Mikhailovna Drubetskaya
Aneurin Barnard ... Boris Drubetskoy
Gillian Anderson ... Anna Pavlovna Scherer
Stephen Rea ... Prince Vassily Kuragin
Callum Turner ... Anatole Kuragin
Tuppence Middleton ... Helene Kuragina
James Norton ... Andrei Bolkonsky
Laurent Maurel ... French Viscount
Kate Phillips ... Lise Bolkonskaya
Tom Burke ... Fedya Dolokhov
Chloe Pirrie ... Julie Karagina
Greta Scacchi ... Countess Natalya Rostova
Kit Connor ... Petya Rostov
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Storyline

In 1805 Russia is at war with France though idealist Pierre Bezukhov, illegitimate son of a wealthy count, expresses admiration for Napoleon, a view not widely held in St Petersburg whilst Pierre's friend Andrei Bolkonsky, tired of high society and marriage to the pregnant Lise, decides to enlist and fight the French. After carousing with Anatole, unruly son of austere Prince Vassily Kuragin, Pierre travels to Moscow, calling on the Rostov family, whose daughter Natasha encourages romance between cousin Sonya and brother Nikolai, before visiting his dying father. Pierre is left everything, to the annoyance of another heir, Vassily, whose gold-digging daughter Helene snares Pierre into marriage. Meanwhile Andrei joins General Kutuzov in Austria, where their army is defeated by the French and Nikolai is captured. Written by don @ minifie-1

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | History | Romance | War

Certificate:

TV-14 | See all certifications »
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Details

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 January 2016 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Lithuania See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color
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Did You Know?

Goofs

In some scenes you can see mountains at a distance. However there are no mountains in the central part of Russia. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Anna Pavlovna Scherer: But mon cher ami, how can you be so calm? This... this monster, Bonaparte - he's crossed into Austria now and... who's to say that Russia won't be next.
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User Reviews

 
Honour and duty
10 June 2018 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Anybody who even as much attempts to adapt Leo Tolstoy's magnum opus 'War and Peace' deserves at least a pat on the back for trying, regardless of how successful it is in doing so or not. The novel is one of the greatest there is, but because of the enormous length (one of the longest novels there is, and it was admittedly not the easiest to immediately get gripped at first), very rich story and dialogues, and complex characterisations and themes it is also one of the most difficult to adapt.

Of the major versions, the best version is the 1972 mini-series with Anthony Hopkins, not only an ideal adaptation of the book and as faithful as one could get but also brilliant in its own right, one of the best the BBC ever produced. The 1966 Russian one directed by Sergei Bondarchuk, while not as accessible, is a close second, a towering achievement and contains the best battle and ballroom scenes of all the 'War and Peace' adaptations. The 1956 King Vidor film has a number of good things, like the production values, the music score, Audrey Hepburn and some of the supporting cast but the sound quality and two male leads are very problematic and the story is not as riveting as it could have been. Faring least is the 2007 adaptation with Clemence Posey as Natasha, beautiful production values and some impressive supporting performances but sunk by the problematic performances of the three leading characters, awkward and underwritten script-writing and bland storytelling.

This latest offering from 2016, courtesy of BBC, is not as good as the 1972 mini-series or the Sergei Bondarchuk film, but is far more successful than the 1956 film and 2007 adaptation. This very well done, if basically set-up and putting things into place, episode isn't one hundred percent flawless.

Lily James did grow as Natasha later, but here she didn't seem at ease yet and didn't quite gel with everything else.

Although the production values are wonderful on the whole, some of the costumes don't fit as well with the period and are not as lavish as the rest and some of the make-up is 21st century-ish.

However, considering that adapting 'War and Peace' is a mammoth task and virtually impossible to be word for word, detail for detail this does very well as an adaptation. It is condensed and not one hundred percent faithful, but the heart and soul of the book is there and while focusing predominantly on the relationships between the characters and the characterisations it is very intelligently written and everything feels coherent and emotionally investible. Even if the Sergei Bondarchuk film has more beautiful ballroom scenes and more powerful war scenes, this adaptation hardly underwhelms in either.

'War and Peace' (2016) stands brilliantly on its own, and shouldn't be marked down solely for it not being a completely faithful adaptation, that is not fair on the adaptation as they are two different mediums and deserve to be treated as such.

It is wonderfully made for starters. The photography is some of the most beautiful personally seen all year on television, almost poetic and heart-breaking in its beauty, the settings, interiors and period detail is sumptuous in every sense. It's always special when scenery is like a character all of its own and the Russian landscapes is one of the greatest examples of that, as well as looking exquisite, seen anywhere on film or television not just this year but possibly ever.

Another standout is the music score, words cannot describe how amazing it is, almost like another character. Not only is it so dynamic with every scene, with the haunting choirs, chilling ambiance, poetic nuance and rousing bombast even enhancing the impact, but it serves as an amazing score on its own and one of the best music scores for television this year as well as worthy of its very own soundtrack album.

The script is very literate and intelligent, the characterisation meaty and the dialogue always flowing beautifully. The storytelling throughout is engrossing with a lot packed in but elaborated upon enough to make it fascinating and easy to follow.

Performances are top-notch, regardless of any reservations as to whether certain actors are right physically. Paul Dano's sensitive and multi-faceted portrayal Pierre is one of the most successful ones of all 'War and Peace' adaptations, and is one of his best overall performances. James Norton is a handsome, commanding and tragic Andrei. In support, standouts are an outstanding Jessie Buckley, Tuppence Middleton as a Helene that's somewhat both a villain and a victim and Jim Broadbent's incredibly powerful and affecting Bolkonsky. Greta Scacchi and Adrian Edmonson also fare well.

Overall, very well done start if not completely settled understandably. 8/10 Bethany Cox


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