"War & Peace" Episode #1.5 (TV Episode 2016) Poster

(TV Mini-Series)


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Peace and revenge
TheLittleSongbird15 June 2018
Anybody who even as much attempts to adapt Leo Tolstoy's magnum opus 'War and Peace' deserves at least a pat on the back for trying, regardless of how successful it is in doing so or not. The novel is one of the greatest there is, but because of the enormous length (one of the longest novels there is, and it was admittedly not the easiest to immediately get gripped at first), very rich story and dialogues, and complex characterisations and themes it is also one of the most difficult to adapt.

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 is a great penultimate episode, if not 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 is charming, wasn't sure about her at first but Natasha has become more interesting here and in the third episode meaning that James was able to be more at ease.

In conclusion, excellent. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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Tolstoy's Genius in Creating Character
lavatch5 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
As the series is moving towards its conclusion, the genius of Tolstoy becomes apparent in character transformation at the time of the invasion of Russia by Napoleon in 1812.

Pierre has begun his recognition of Russian patriotism, the power of Russian Orthodoxy, and his deep affection for Natasha. Princess Marya too begins to appreciate Natasha after the Bolkonsky family has been forced to leave their estate, due to the invasion. Even the reprobate Dolokhov offers a sincere apology to Pierre for his disgraceful conduct. Perhaps the most striking transformation is the maturity of young Nikokai Rostov, who conducts himself admirably as a soldier in assisting Princess Marya at a time when her serfs were in near revolt. But the question remains of how young Nikolai will treat the long-suffering Sonia, who waits for him with the patience of Penelope.

The solitary character who remains rigid and unbending is Andrei Bolkonski. The lowest point of his characters is apparent when he refers to Natasha as a "fallen woman," after her brief tryst with Anatole Kuragin. His unforgiving nature and his nearly self-destructive approach to the war in leading the avant-garde at Borodino demonstrate his intransigence.

The episode ends with the approach of the French and the preparation of the Russian army at Borodino. Everyone, including the Cyclopian General Kutuzov, anticipates at best a stand-off between the two enormous armies. The surprising development in the narrative is the sudden arrival of Pierre who wishes only to "observe" the nature of war. He will soon have his opportunity.
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Boris is a fool
felipefromchile2 June 2018
Warning: Spoilers
The episode is beautifully shot. I'm only dissapointed they changed Balashev with Boris, to carry the Tsar's message to Napoleon. Boris is a fool
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