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 »
King Vidor's masterful version is simplified and stagey, but still beautifully done.
This film version of Tolstoy's novel nicely captures the essence of his story. The VistaVision, Technicolor photography by Jack Cardiff give the the set pieces the look of a classic painting. Nino Rota's lavish score perfectly compliments the visuals. The casting is superb; and even though Fonda is physically wrong in the critical role of Pierre, his dignified persona makes up for it. Hepburn, as ever, is radiant as Natasha, and hits her marks perfectly. Anita Ekberg's superstructure alone brings Helene to life; Ferrer, Homolka and Mills are all, likewise, wonderful in this. The largely underappreciated Herbert Lom is absolutely brilliant as Napoleon. Practically speaking, this is a notable film adaptation of an enormous literary work, inspite of any comparisons one would care to make between the book and the movie.
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