Director Sergey Bondarchuk had two heart attacks during the years of production. He suffered his first heart attack while filming part 3, the battle of Borodino. He suffered his second heart attack while filming part 4, the Fire of Moscow. Then the director was in-and-out of hospital during post-production.
Lyudmila Saveleva came to the 1969 Academy Awards, she received the Oscar on behalf of the filmmakers. But when she came back to Moscow, the Soviet authorities entered the airplane. The Soviet government took the Oscar away from the filmmakers.
"War and Peace" has a bombastic reputation and is erroneously believed by many to be the most expensive film in history. It is also maintained that it employed the largest army of extras ever. Both assertions are wrong. While the Soviet statement it cost $100 million (in 1967 terms) was oft repeated in the American press upon the film's release in the US, the protocols of the USSR's State Cinema Committee from 25.8.1965 reveal that its approved budget was 8.5 million ruble, of which 2.51M were to be paid to the military for its services. The producers' financial statements set their total expenditures on "War and Peace" to have been 8,291,712 ruble after its completion in August 1967. Though a huge sum in Soviet terms, it was equal to $9,213,013 by the contemporary exchange rate and, considering ruble inflation, about 2 billion ruble in 2012 (~$67 million under the 2012 rate). In addition, the famous claim that 120,000 soldier extras participated in the recreation of the Battle of Borodino was denied by director Bondarchuk himself, who told National Geographic when asked about this (Peter. T. White, "The World of Tolstoy", June 1986 issue): "that is exaggeration, all I had was 12,000."
Director Bondarchuk cast those Russian actors who were previously censored under Stalin, and were kept underemployed in the Soviet film industry. Thus Bondarchuk arranged for comeback of several stars of the 1930s and even of the silent-films era, such as Veronika Polonskaya, Stanitsyn, Anatoli Ktorov, Galina Kravchenko, Boris Zakhava and other notable actors.
The US' première was held at the DeMille Theater, Seventh Avenue and 47th Street, New York. The screening for this seven-hour epic was shown in two parts, and the cost of a ticket was a staggering $7.50, for the best seats.
This film was made with the complete cooperation of the Soviet government, the Red Army, and the citizens of Moscow which is how they managed to get 1500 horses and 120 thousand extras into the war scenes.
The Battle of Borodino took over two years to produce with over 300 actors and 120 thousand extras involved. About 200 firing cannons were filmed in the battle and about 100 thousand rifles were used by extras and stunts.
A replica of central Moscow was built in Volokolamsk for filming the fire of Moscow. The replica was completely burned down as part of filming. For filming the scenes of the fire, actor Sergey Bondarchuk had a stand-in, Yuri Devochkin.
Original art, jewellery, swords, guns, and period furniture from several museums, as well, as replicas of period military uniforms, decorations, ball gowns and costume jewellery pieces were used in the film.
About a thousand professional artists, designers, decorators and museum specialists worked on sets construction, design, and decoration. Several companies in Moscow and Leningrad were involved in making replicas of military uniforms, period dresses and costumes during the years of production.
Her role as Natasha was the first performance for former ballerina Lyudmila Saveleva. More than 40 years later she would return to Tolstoy with a performance in a television mini-series adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina (2009).