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War and Peace (1956)

Napoleon's tumultuous relations with Russia including his disastrous 1812 invasion serve as the backdrop for the tangled personal lives of two aristocratic families.

Director:

King Vidor

Writers:

Leo Tolstoy (based on the novel by), Bridget Boland (adaptation) | 5 more credits »
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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Audrey Hepburn ... Natasha Rostova
Henry Fonda ... Pierre Bezukhov
Mel Ferrer ... Prince Andrei Bolkonsky
Vittorio Gassman ... Anatol Kuragin
Herbert Lom ... Napoleon
Oskar Homolka ... Field Marshal Kutuzov (as Oscar Homolka)
Anita Ekberg ... Helene Kuragina
Helmut Dantine ... Dolokhov
Tullio Carminati ... Prince Vasili Kuragin
Barry Jones ... Prince Mikhail Andreevich Rostov
Milly Vitale ... Lisa Bolkonskaya
Lea Seidl Lea Seidl ... Countess Rostov
Anna Maria Ferrero ... Maria Bolkonskaya
Wilfrid Lawson ... Prince Bolkonsky (as Wilfred Lawson)
May Britt ... Sonia Rostova
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Storyline

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 alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

"BRILLIANT!"--New York Times See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | Italy

Language:

English | Italian | Russian

Release Date:

21 August 1956 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Krieg und Frieden See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$12,500,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)| Perspecta Stereo (as Perspecta Stereophonic Sound ® by Suonitalia Studio - Rome -)

Color:

Color (Technicolor) (as Technicolor®)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Audrey Hepburn recommended her Roman Holiday (1953) co-star Gregory Peck for the role of Pierre, but Henry Fonda was cast instead. See more »

Goofs

Just after Andrei dies while Natasha is at his bedside, he swallows and his adam's apple visibly moves. See more »

Quotes

Natasha Rostov: Nicholas.
Nicholas Rostov: What now?
Natasha Rostov: Is everybody looking at me?
Nicholas Rostov: Well, can't you see for yourself?
Natasha Rostov: Not without changing the expression on my face.
Nicholas Rostov: Natasha, you know, there's one awful thing about you.
Natasha Rostov: Tell it to me! Tell me the whole truth.
Nicholas Rostov: No girl I'll ever meet will ever be able to amuse me as much as you do.
Natasha Rostov: Shh... Don't talk like that.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »

Alternate Versions

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 »

Connections

Featured in Interactive Film Quiz (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Grande Valse Brillante
(uncredited)
by Frédéric Chopin (Waltz n°1 in E flat major)
See more »

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User Reviews

Decent Adaptation of Vast Novel but of its time
2 October 2002 | by trpdeanSee all my reviews

I've read the book and seen this version several times. The main drawback is of course time.

Thus, it must inevitably slight: a) many of the characters who bring joy to reading the novel - the princely father of the Kuragins, Sonja's story, Nicholas falling in love with Marya, the forgiveness by Bolkonsky (Ferrer) of Anatole Kuragin when his leg is amputated on a table beside which he is lain out, etc. and b) much of the philosophy contained in the book - whether about the masons or the purpose of life.

However, as a sort of highlights version of the novel, I thought it dealt well with the main lines of the plot.

It also is clearly 1950s film-making. There is little sense indoors of the lighting of the time, the sets look generally clean or deliberately destroyed (rather than mysterious and gloomy). In fact, the entire film appears all too clearly delineated - there is little of the kind of murkiness one would find in such a movie being made today - say, the way Schindler's List looks - or The Last Emperor looks.

The movie is also benefitted by having Audrey Hepburn, Anita Ekberg and John Mills - physically they are EXACTLY what I imagined of these characters - and I thought Mills and Hepburn were excellent. (And what Ekberg lacked in ability to convey emotion, she gained from her jaw-dropping embodiment of the buxom blonde!). The Henry Fonda choice for Bezuhov is an odd one - he's not the first person I think of when I think of a huge heavy awkward bear of a man. He did the best he could but was clearly miscast. Prince Bolkonsky (the father) and the Count and Countess Rostov were first rate - so were the choices for Napoleon, Homolka as Kutuzov, Kuragin, Dolokhov and the Rostov family. Mel Ferrer was ok - but imagine, say, the Terence Stamp of Far From the Madding Crowd and how he could have done.

All in all, this is clearly a movie of its time in cinematography, sets, the clearly drawn lines of the script - but it is entertaining and does about as well as possible in dramatizing in 3 1/2 hours a book of over 1000 pages.


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