Eight-hour epic based on the book of the same name by Leo Tolstoy. Two main story-lines are complex and intertwined. One is the love story of young Countess Natasha Rostova and Count Pierre... See full summary »
By 1812, Napoleon's (Herbert Lom's) forces controlled much of Europe. Russia, one of the few countries still unconquered, prepares to face Napoleon's troops together with Austria. Amongst the Russian soldiers, are Count Nikolai Rostov (Jeremy Brett) and Prince Andrei Bolkonsky (Mel Ferrer). Count Pierre Bezukhov (Henry Fonda), 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 (Audrey Hepburn), Nikolai's sister, but she is too young, so he gives in to baser desires and marries the shallow, manipulative Princess Helene (Anita Ekberg). 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. A few months later, Pierre and Andrei meet again. Andrei sees Natasha and falls in love, but his father will only permit the marriage if ...Written by
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 »
Two different versions of the main titles exists. Both of them in English. In the one, the credits are set against a neutral background, in the other against details of a painting of Napoleon in front of his troops. See more »
Vidor's unjustly over-looked version of Tolstoy's novel
Perhaps the best you can say for Vidor's long, (200 minutes), but surprisingly compact version of Tolstoy's novel is that it is no disgrace despite being 'internationalized' for mass consumption. (It's got an Italian producer, was filmed in Italy, an American director and a large cast from all over the place, leading in some cases to some very unconvincing dubbing). But it's also largely intelligent, well enough acted, particularly by Audrey Hepburn who is an enchanting Natasha, and visually splendid. No less than eight writers worked on the script which fails conspicuously to translate Tolstoy's 'grand ideas' into anything other than Readers-Digest form but then even Bondarchuk's even longer Russian version didn't quite manage the leap from page to screen. You may be forgiven, then, for thinking you are watching nothing more than a grandiose soap-opera even if it's a cut above run-of-the-mill historical 'soap-operas'. But in an age when three-hour-plus epics were ten-a-penny it didn't catch on and come Oscar time it was largely over-looked. (The even bigger but vastly inferior "Around the World in 80 Days" took Best Picture while "War and Peace" failed to snag a nomination in that category). But it is worth seeing if only for Hepburn's under-rated performance and for Henry Fonda, too old and miscast as Pierre, but bringing his liberal gravitas to the part, all the same.
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