As Nikolai Rostov and Andrei prepare for battle, a determined Prince Vassily Kuragin tries to forge a bond between Andrei's sister, Princess Marya, and his son, Anatole, while Pierre finds h... Read allAs Nikolai Rostov and Andrei prepare for battle, a determined Prince Vassily Kuragin tries to forge a bond between Andrei's sister, Princess Marya, and his son, Anatole, while Pierre finds his new married life difficult.As Nikolai Rostov and Andrei prepare for battle, a determined Prince Vassily Kuragin tries to forge a bond between Andrei's sister, Princess Marya, and his son, Anatole, while Pierre finds his new married life difficult.
Of the major versions, the best version is the 1972 mini-series with Anthony Hopkins, not only an ideal adaptation of the book and as faithful as one could get but also brilliant in its own right, one of the best the BBC ever produced. The 1966 Russian one directed by Sergei Bondarchuk, while not as accessible, is a close second, a towering achievement and contains the best battle and ballroom scenes of all the 'War and Peace' adaptations. The 1956 King Vidor film has a number of good things, like the production values, the music score, Audrey Hepburn and some of the supporting cast but the sound quality and two male leads are very problematic and the story is not as riveting as it could have been. Faring least is the 2007 adaptation with Clemence Posey as Natasha, beautiful production values and some impressive supporting performances but sunk by the problematic performances of the three leading characters, awkward and underwritten script-writing and bland storytelling.
This latest offering from 2016, courtesy of BBC, is not as good as the 1972 mini-series or the Sergei Bondarchuk film, but is far more successful than the 1956 film and 2007 adaptation. This very well done and feels more settled and meatier in content, though the episode isn't one hundred percent flawless.
Although the production values are wonderful on the whole, some of the costumes don't fit as well with the period and are not as lavish as the rest and some of the make-up is 21st century-ish.
However, considering that adapting 'War and Peace' is a mammoth task and virtually impossible to be word for word, detail for detail this does very well as an adaptation. It is condensed and not one hundred percent faithful, but the heart and soul of the book is there and while focusing predominantly on the relationships between the characters and the characterisations it is very intelligently written and everything feels coherent and emotionally investible. Even if the Sergei Bondarchuk film has more beautiful ballroom scenes and more powerful war scenes, this adaptation hardly underwhelms in either.
'War and Peace' (2016) stands brilliantly on its own, and shouldn't be marked down solely for it not being a completely faithful adaptation, that is not fair on the adaptation as they are two different mediums and deserve to be treated as such.
It is wonderfully made for starters. The photography is some of the most beautiful personally seen all year on television, almost poetic and heart-breaking in its beauty, the settings, interiors and period detail is sumptuous in every sense. It's always special when scenery is like a character all of its own and the Russian landscapes is one of the greatest examples of that, as well as looking exquisite, seen anywhere on film or television not just this year but possibly ever.
Another standout is the music score, words cannot describe how amazing it is, almost like another character. Not only is it so dynamic with every scene, with the haunting choirs, chilling ambiance, poetic nuance and rousing bombast even enhancing the impact, but it serves as an amazing score on its own and one of the best music scores for television this year as well as worthy of its very own soundtrack album.
The script is very literate and intelligent, the characterisation meaty and the dialogue always flowing beautifully. The storytelling throughout is engrossing with a lot packed in but elaborated upon enough to make it fascinating and easy to follow.
Performances are top-notch, regardless of any reservations as to whether certain actors are right physically. Paul Dano's sensitive and multi-faceted portrayal Pierre is one of the most successful ones of all 'War and Peace' adaptations, and is one of his best overall performances. James Norton is a handsome, commanding and tragic Andrei. In support, standouts are an outstanding Jessie Buckley, Tuppence Middleton as a Helene that's somewhat both a villain and a victim and Jim Broadbent's incredibly powerful and affecting Bolkonsky. Greta Scacchi and Adrian Edmonson also fare well. Lily James has settled better, though Natasha is yet to be properly interesting.
Overall, great and more settled. 9/10 Bethany Cox
- Jun 11, 2018