War & Peace (TV Mini-Series 1972–1974) Poster


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A marvelous recreation of the novel that is very faithful to it
Michael Casagrande18 November 1999
Anthony Hopkins stars in the role that brought him to my attention, that of Pierre Bezukhov. He gives a rendition of Pierre that is very convincing, and takes the character through an education that is far from sentimental, though it is very moving.

The depth of the novel is brought out by the length of the mini-series, which I saw on PBS' Masterpiece Theatre in the early 1970's. It is well shot, with wide open vistas that do some justice to the Russian countryside. The portrayal of Russian country life and its glittering high society of the cities is most convincing.

The performances beyond that of Hopkins are also quite strong. Very affecting was Alan Dobie as Prince Bolkonsky. The whole effort deserves 10 out of 10.
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Greatness was achieved.
Tom Murray24 April 2001
This more-than-twelve-hour-long BBC TV version of the epic Tolstoy novel, War and Peace, starring Anthony Hopkins as Pierre, is a brilliant production, is the finest TV movie that I have ever seen and is based on the greatest novel ever written. The length allows sufficient time to fully develop the many characters over a long period of their lives. This is one area where TV can surpass the cinema.

The 1972 BBC TV miniseries, War and Peace, was a far superior rendering of the great Tolstoy novel. A 2007 TV series of War and Peace, created by Italy, France, Germany, Russia and Poland was also excellent but, to me, the BBC version was the greatest.
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Excellent film
Eagle12803 April 2005
I am delighted to say that this miniseries is an excellent adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's famous book and it is remarkably faithful to the story line. What I do not understand is why this film version has not been set onto DVD yet. If it were I would buy it tomorrow. Nearly every major British Actor and Actress from the 70s appears in this version and I notice different items in the episodes every time I view my VHS version. I highly recommend this for anyone who wishes to read the book beforehand or afterward. I also enjoy seeing Anthony Hopkins as a very young man portraying a character full of energy, failings and then how the character through Anthony Hopkins matures by the end of the series.
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An adaptation true to its roots!
dr_valentine_mp26 June 2005
I remember seeing this first when I was just 12. It definitely left an impact on me especially Alan Dobie's Prince. Also Natasha Rostova played by Morag Hood is a very interesting and free-spirited character. Ms. Hood has really brought natasha to life, so much so that sometimes you can't wait to watch what she's going to do next. The scenic backgrounds of Russia are beautiful and as always Anthony Hopkins dazzles in his rendition of Pierre. Anyone interesting in seeing a movie version of War & Peace must watch this and not the more recent versions (very dry and boring - would think it was shot in Texas). The scenes tend to linger in your memory..
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I heartily second the opinions regarding the superbness of this epic series
jeffws16 February 2009
I don't have much to say in addition to the adulations given by, especially, those who watched this amazing series at a young age. I was 23 when it first broadcast on public television, a co production of the BBC and Time-Life. I disagree with the verbose UK reviewer above, who felt the episodes boring until about halfway. I was intrigued with episodes 1 and 2, and utterly engrossed by 3, waiting impatiently for the following week to bring the next episode. My only problematic observation from the 1st episode was that it seemed a little stagy, as if I were watching a stage play. Small criticism. Watching it again 37-odd years later ( have finished the 2nd DVD as I write this) I was again engrossed, with the advantage of not having to wait a week for the next episode! The only proper and accurate adaptation to the great novel.

Considering this a television production, I was again impressed (and surprised) by the ambition and quality of the battle scenes. It was refreshing not see an exaggerated CGI army battling another CGI army. My favorite actors were Alan Dobie and a young Anthony Hopkins. Every time I see Hopkins in a movie, I immediately remember his outstanding performance as Pierre. The one scene I always remember is Alan Dobie ad Prince Andre, lying in the battlefield after being wounded while leading a futile charge at Austerlitz, lying on the ground, staring up at the sky and remarking about it, that all is vanity, illusion.

Finally, how can one forget Fiona Gaunt as Helene? Wow, those low-cut empire-style gowns. I kept fearing (if that is the word) that she wouldn't be able to "contain" herself. (Sorry for the moment of male levity).

My all-time favorite British TV production, even slightly ahead of the wonderful Upstairs, Downstairs.

P.S. Thanks to the viewer who pointed out that it was not shown on Masterpiece Theater. I always remembered that it was, and was regretting that Alistair Cooke's introductions and final comments were missing from the DVD. Now I know that they were not! But how I wish they were!
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wonderful adaptation
joanmarieherbers3 June 2007
I remember seeing this when I was in high school and being mesmerized. Having watched it at home now twice, I still think this an amazing adaptation. Watching Anthony Hopkins stretch his legs in his first big role is a wonder and presages all the kudos he was to receive in ensuing decades. I also think Morag Hood was quite convincing as a 13-year-old girl through to a nearly-30 Natasha; in contrast to another viewer who was bothered by a 30-year-old woman playing the girl Natasha, I found her acting the part of a 13 year old to be convincing.

David Swift brings real complexity to Napoleon, and the family scenes of the Rostovs are a wonderful contrast to the dysfunctional Bolkonsky family. The acting is very good throughout (although Joanna David as Sonya does a bit too much weeping for my taste) and the peek into the Russia of the times is faithful to the book.

This production shows its age, especially the graininess of exterior shots compared to the interior studio film, but overall I think it a truly outstanding adaptation. I sure wish Alan Dobie was still working in film! Most of the secondary characters (Dolohov, Helene, and Katische) are quite good.
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A beautiful epic where I first discovered Anthony Hopkins
camille-722 November 1999
I was more into the romance of the show rather than the battle scenes but I watched the entire production when in my early 20's. I thought Morag Hood was a good choice for Natasha, resembling in appearance and actions, a young Audrey Hepburn who had originally played Natasha in the 1950's production. This was the first time I ever saw the young Anthony Hopkins and was very impressed by his kind and sincere portrayal of Pierre and was also impressed by Alan Dobie as Andre! Well, lets face it, I thought they were both extremely handsome!!! As I said I wasn't into the historical aspect of it but enjoyed the storylines of the important families, the Bezuhov's, Rostova's and Bolkonsky's.
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Everything the 1956 film should have been, and the best version of the Tolstoy classic
TheLittleSongbird24 July 2015
Adaptations of War and Peace aren't a great many, and almost all of them have their problems. That said, as masterful as Tolstoy's novel is, due to the mammoth length, the complexity of the characters and the story as well as Tolstoy's themes and his writing style, it is also one of the most difficult books to adapt. One adaptation does a particularly fantastic job with it however, and that adaptation is this 1972 BBC mini-series.

The mini-series looks wonderful, with spectacularly opulent costumes and sets, lavish and evocative period detail (actually looking like Russia, Russian country life and high society is also very accurately depicted) and it's photographed beautifully as well. The music score is well composed and fits beautifully, with an appropriately understated version of the Imperial Russian Anthem serving as the main theme. The script is thoughtful, cleverly structured(tight in alternative to rambling, and a real attempt is made to let the story make sense, and successfully too) and literate, not only adhering true to Tolstoy's writing and themes but it captures the depth and spirit of the writing and themes as well. The occasional voice-overs help one to completely understand the story and why the characters behave the way they do, not feeling intrusive at all. The nearly fifteen hour length is ideal for adapting such a huge story, adaptation-wise this version is as faithful to the book as you can get and does it while also maintaining in translation what makes the book so powerful, keeping the key scenes, characters and themes and with the full impact they ought.

War and Peace (1972) doesn't spend too long on the human drama scenes, and unlike the 1956 film doesn't endlessly stretch them to tedium, key and family relationships portrayed with moving intensity. The battle scenes don't wrench the gut quite as much as the Russian version, but are still powerful and poignant with far superior and authentic sound quality than in the film, and would have been even more so with the inclusion of background scoring. The winter retreat is particularly well done here. The series is skilfully directed, and the characters carry the narrative compellingly, their interactions and situations feeling very real and they avoid falling into caricature (including Napoleon and Kutuzov). Anthony Hopkins is superb in one of his best early performances, the only Pierre of any of the adaptations to be completely ideal, and Alan Dobie is aristocratic and expressive as Andrei and Morag Hood enchants as Natasha despite being somewhat too old.

Rupert Davies steals his scenes, Joanna David is touchingly sympathetic and Angela Down makes one wonder why she didn't do more acting. Harry Locke underplays wisely in the optimistic role of Platon, David Swift brings humanity to Napoleon rather than as a hammy caricature and Frank Middlemass is a vividly forthright General Kutuzov. Overall, a brilliant mini-series and the best version of the Tolstoy classic. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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Excellent version, much better than the 2007 one
cluciano6318 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Still, the casting of Natasha is doubtful for me, as the actress in this version looked far too old to be playing a teenager for much of the series. She acted very silly and young, as per the role, but did not suit completely. But not enough to take away from the overall production.

The hairstyles of the men are jarring at times, rather bad wigs, lol.

Anthony Hopkins is amazing, It is startling to see certain gestures and motions that he retains forty years later.

Overall the acting, settings and costumes are realistic and well-done. I love the role of Count Rostov in this version, he was a charming actor.

As always, it is difficult to hear of the suffering of the Russian soldiers. The contrast between the immaculate uniforms and lack of food and supplies was ludicrous, if represented at all accurately.
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