War And Peace (1966)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBBB

Original title:  Voyna I Mir

USSR, 1966.  Mosfilm.  Screenplay by Sergey Bondarchuk, , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by , , .  Music by .  Production Design by , , , .  Costume Design by , , , .  Film Editing by .  

Leo Tolstoy’s epic novel virtually explodes onto the screen in this unforgettable, mammoth-length (7 hours!) adaptation by director . Bondarchuk himself plays the central aristocrat Bezukhov, who witnesses the history of Russia from the battle of Austerlitz through to the Napoleonic war of 1812, both on the battlefield and at home. The private story mostly concerns itself with innocent young Natasha Rostova (a splendid ) whose passionate young heart leads her to a handsome, widowed prince who entertains the idea of marriage with her, until she risks personal ruin and eternal scandal by falling passionately in love with a rakish soldier. Meanwhile, Russia herself struggles to survive the French emperor’s bid for domination of the eastern world, which comes to a head in a scintillating series of battle scenes that involve what seem like thousands upon thousands of extras and some highly impressive technical effects. The film is endlessly rich with visual splendour (adjusted for inflation it would cost about $600 million today, making it the most expensive film of all time) but also thematically dense with Tolstoy’s plot and dialogue. Gorgeous camerawork and passionate performances ( is a standout as the domineering general Kutusov) make the seven hours, believe it or not, fly by.

Academy Award:  Best Foreign Language Film
Nomination: Best Art Direction

Golden Globe Award:  Best Foreign Language Foreign Film

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