A Russian Prince experiences battle against Napoleon and a troubled relationship with his father and wife. Finds acceptance of her death and eventually his chance of true love. A spoiled, ... See full summary »
By 1812, Napoleon's forces controlled much of Europe. Russia, one of the few countries still unconquered, prepares to face Napoleon's troops together with Austria. Among the Russian soldiers are Count Nicholas Rostov and Prince Andrei Bolkonsky. Count Pierre Bezukhov, a friend of Andrei's and self-styled intellectual who is not interested in fighting. Pierre's life changes when his father dies, leaving him a vast inheritance. He is attracted to Natasha Rostov, Nicholas's sister, but she is too young, so he gives in to baser desires and marries the shallow, manipulative Princess Helene. The marriage ends when Pierre discovers his wife's true nature. Andrei is captured and later released by the French, and returns home only to watch his wife die in childbirth. Months later, Pierre and Andrei meet again. Andrei sees Natasha and falls in love, but his father will only permit the marriage if they postpone it for one year until Natasha turns 17. While Andrei is away on a military mission, ... Written by
Henry Fonda claimed that he had agreed to do the film after reading a version of the screenplay written by Irwin Shaw, and was much displeased when this was re-written by others. He also claimed that producer Dino De Laurentiis would go into fits of screaming rage whenever he saw him wearing eyeglasses, as the character of Pierre is supposed to do; De Laurentiis insisted that this was not properly heroic, which suggested to both Fonda and King Vidor that he had never actually read the book. Fonda and Vidor used the eyeglasses only on those days when De Laurentiis didn't visit the set (which, fortunately, were quite numerous). See more »
After the opera, when Anatole and Natasha meet, he approaches her from behind and puts his left hand on her shoulder. The next shot shows them a little way from each other. See more »
Closing credits epilogue: The most difficult thing - but an essential one - is to love Life, to love it even while one suffers, because Life is all. Life is God, and to love Life means to love God. Tolstoy "WAR and PEACE" See more »
King Vidor's version of Leo Tolstoy's WAR AND PEACE has finally been released in the U.S. by Paramount and is a welcome addition to my DVD collection. I have been tempted many times to purchase a Hong Kong pressing of this title -- but I'm glad that I refrained. While this DVD does not contain much in the way of "Extras", it does contain a nice wide screen transfer that captures to look of its original release. Paramount, rather then following in the footsteps of the other major studios, did not use the CinemaScope wide-screen process developed by 20th Century-Fox and introduced in 1953 with their Lloyd C. Douglas adaptation of THE ROBE. Rather, Paramount developed their own wide- screen process and called it VistaVision. The VistaVision system moved 35mm film through the camera side-ways, resulting in a picture negative that was close to 70mm in size. The film was then reduced to a wide-screen image (usally around 1.85:1 instead of CinemaScope's 2.65:1 ratio). Coupled with genuine Technicolor (before it became teamed with Eastman Color) photography, VistaVision was capable of stunning images. WAR AND PEACE was photographed by JACK CARDIFF, one of finest cinematographers ever to grace film (THE RED SHOES is one of his works), resulting in one of the most beautifully photographed films of all-time! Alas, stereophonic sound was not generally employed by Paramount and so WAR AND PEACE has only a mono track -- nice, but not as nice a stereophonic track would have been. As to the film itself, I can only express that I have loved it from the first seeing in 1956 -- and continue to find it a great and involving film experience. The film is truly spectactular (even when compared to the 6-hour Russian version of 1968), but it works for me because of the human story. AUDREY HEPBURN as Natasha is perfection itself. She grows from the delightful innocence of childhood to the wisdom (and beauty) of adulthood. HENRY FONDA, often criticized as being wrong for the role of Pierre, is very effective as a man searching for and finding the true meaning of life and events. The film ends with this marvelous quotation from Tolstoy: "The most difficult thing -- but an essential one -- is to love Life, to love it even while one suffers, because Life is all, Life is God, and to love Life means to love God". And that is what this film captures -- and this is what sets it apart from other great epics. Nino Rota's score is also a great asset to this films effectiveness. As to the DVD itself -- Paramount, while not restoring it in the manner done for their recent releases of ROMAN HOLIDAY and SUNSET BOULEVARD, have still provided us with a fine DVD! There is no commentary track (most of the principals have passed away) -- but it would have been nice to have heard from Jack Cardiff. Both the B&W Behind-the-Scenes Trailer (showing location shooting of a key charge scene and a few words from director, King Vidor) and the re-release theatrical trailer, are interesting. How does the film compare to the book? I'm currently reading the book -- and can honestly say that I'm glad that I've seen the movie first. It helps greatly in keeping track of the numerous characters and plot developments. The book is one of the enduring masterpieces of literature -- but this film stands on its own as a great motion picture! Thanks Paramount for the DVD release!!
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