War And Peace

  • 1956
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama, War

King Vidor's version of Tolstoy's great novel seems insufficient at more than three hours and fared ill both with the critics and at the box office, but it does deliver the spectacular visuals expected of historical epics. As Napoleon (Herbert Lom) prepares to invade Russia, the gentle, awkward, intellectual Pierre Bezukhov (Henry Fonda) falls in undeclared...read more

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King Vidor's version of Tolstoy's great novel seems insufficient at more than three hours and fared ill both with the critics and at the box office, but it does deliver the spectacular visuals expected of historical epics. As Napoleon (Herbert Lom) prepares to invade Russia, the gentle,

awkward, intellectual Pierre Bezukhov (Henry Fonda) falls in undeclared love with young Natasha Rostov (Audrey Hepburn). Soon afterward, his father dies--making Pierre the wealthy new Count Bezukhov and a desirable marriage prospect--and Bezukhov marries the luscious, adulterous Helene (Anita

Ekberg). Meanwhile, his dear friend Prince Andrei (Mel Ferrer), a haughty, gloomy aide to General Kutuzov (Oscar Homolka), returns home from battle after being wounded. Depressed after his wife's death in childbirth, Andrei rediscovers the joy of life when he, too, falls in love with Natasha, and

she with him--the two having been introduced by Pierre, who battles his own spiritual malaise after the failure of his loveless marriage. Andrei returns to the front and is wounded critically in the disastrous Russian defeat at Borodino. Pierre observes the carnage in horror and vows to

assassinate Napoleon, but he is captured and held prisoner when the French occupy Moscow. When all looks darkest, however, the Russian winter sets in, the French are routed, Pierre is reunited with Natasha, and the love that was hinted at in the opening scenes finally comes to fruition.

Lovers of Tolstoy's work are likely to be frustrated by this somewhat static film, which, inevitably, omits a great deal of Tolstoy's characterization, plots, philosophy, and historical analysis, while on the other hand plays up the Pierre-Natasha romance. The performances are similarly limited,

though Hepburn charmingly captures the gamine radiance of the young Natasha and Fonda (who felt he was miscast) effectively communicates Pierre's integrity. Cinematographers Jack Cardiff and Aldo Tonti contribute the film's most stunning work, as does Mario Soldati, who directed the battle

scenes.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: King Vidor's version of Tolstoy's great novel seems insufficient at more than three hours and fared ill both with the critics and at the box office, but it does deliver the spectacular visuals expected of historical epics. As Napoleon (Herbert Lom) prepare… (more)

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