Leo Tolstoys timeless masterpiece of love and loss is universally recognized as one of the greatest novels ever written. Focusing on the consequences faces by three Russian families during the Napoleonic Wars, this classic work is retold in twenty parts in this epic BBC production, complete with award-winning design and breathtaking battle sequences.
Anthony Hopkins heads the cast as the soul-searching Pierre Bezuhov (a role for which he won the 1972 Best Actor BAFTA); Morag Hood is the impulsive and beautiful Natasha Rostova; Alan Dobie is the dour but heroic Andrei Bolkonsky; and David Swift is Napoleon, whose decision to invade Russia in 1812 has far-reaching consequences for both the Rostov and Bolkonsky families.
Includes a 44-page booklet featuring production notes, episode summaries, character profiles and stunning behind the scenes photography.
Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace towers over most novels. It isn't merely the length that impresses--over 1,200 pages--but the number of characters. This BBC/Time-Life serial spans the Napoleonic Wars (1805-20) and incorporates 52 principals and 110 supporting players (a 44-page booklet proves indispensable with identification). Chief among them is Pierre (a bespectacled Anthony Hopkins), an illegitimate idler who becomes Count Bezuhov upon his father's death. Pierre admires Napoleon (David Swift), and chooses not to fight. Cousins Nikolai Rostov (Sylvester Morand) and Andrei Bolkonsky (Alan Dobie) harbor no such reservations.
The Yugoslavia-filmed battle sequences convince with their cavalcade of extras, but the drawing-room scenes serve as the heart of the series. (The soft exteriors were shot on film; the crisp interiors on video.) In these sequences, the other Rostovs, Bolkonskys, and Bezuhovs--notably Nikolai's impetuous sister, Natasha (Morag Hood)--emerge as complex individuals. Occasional inner monologues distinguish them further. There's some overacting from a few cast members, like the splenetic Anthony Jacobs (Prince Bolkonsky), but Dobie, Angela Down (Andrei's sister, Maria), and especially BAFTA winner Hopkins, give three of the more nuanced performances. Dramatized by Jack Pulman (I, Claudius) and directed by TV veteran John Davies (Germinal), this 20-part series follows a black-and-white silent, a Hollywood production (with Henry Fonda and Audrey Hepburn), and an Oscar-winning Russian epic. The British edition, however, stands as the most complete adaptation. As Pulman stated at the time, "Part of the novel's effect is achieved by its sheer weight of detail, the piling up of incident upon incident." After 15 increasingly compelling hours of marriages, affairs, births, duels, and deaths, it's hard not to feel a kinship with these fatefully entwined families. --Kathleen C. Fennessy