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

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1973   1972  
Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 2 wins. See more awards »


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Series cast summary:
...  Pierre Bezukhov 17 episodes, 1972-1973
...  Natasha Rostova 14 episodes, 1972-1973
Alan Dobie ...  Prince Andrei Bolkonsky 14 episodes, 1972-1973
...  Count Rostov 14 episodes, 1972-1973
...  Sonya 13 episodes, 1972-1973
...  Countess Rostova 12 episodes, 1972-1973
Angela Down ...  Princess Maria Bolkonskya 10 episodes, 1972-1973
Sylvester Morand ...  Nikolai Rostov 10 episodes, 1972-1973
David Swift ...  Napoleon 9 episodes, 1972-1973
Fiona Gaunt ...  Hélène Kuragina 9 episodes, 1972
...  Mikhail Kutuzov 8 episodes, 1972-1973
Anthony Jacobs ...  Prince Bolkonsky 7 episodes, 1972
Neil Stacy ...  Boris Drubetskoy 7 episodes, 1972-1973


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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | War


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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

20 November 1973 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Guerra e pace  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


John Davies worked two years on this show. See more »


Version of War and Peace: Episode #1.1 (2007) See more »


God Save the Tsar!
By Alexei Lvov
Performed by The Band of H.M. Welsh Guards
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User Reviews

Everything the 1956 film should have been, and the best version of the Tolstoy classic
24 July 2015 | by See all my reviews

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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