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War & Peace (1973)

Anthony Hopkins , Alan Dobie , John Davies  |  NR |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Anthony Hopkins, Alan Dobie, Morag Hood, Joanna David, Sylvester Morand
  • Directors: John Davies
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Koch Vision
  • DVD Release Date: October 23, 2007
  • Run Time: 890 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000QGE86K
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,270 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "War & Peace" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Leo Tolstoy’s 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

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Having seen all three versions, (Hepburn, Russian and this) and having read the book and biographies of Tolstoi, I am most impressed with this version. The actors may not be exact replicas in appearance but in spirit they capture the characters quite well. The dialog is well chosen and faithful in the most important areas. My only criticism would be (and this is true of all versions) that Tolstoi's explanation of Helene's and Anatole's cruelty being due to their complete lack of sensitivity of what they're doing, is not so obvious as in the book. Anatole is seen riding around Moscow and waves gaily to Pierre the day after his failed attempt to elope with Natasha which indicates how little he thinks of what he has done. Perhaps it is not extremely important but I thought it made alot understandable.
In all other respects, this is a wonderful film, one I would and have watched again and again. You feel as if you know all the characters and you find yourself caring deeply about them. Even having seen it repeatedly I find myself equally moved with each viewing (ok, not as much as the first time when it was new but I was 12) I wish I could give it more than 5 stars. This is a film I had waited 25 years to see again and having lent it to a friend look forward to its return so I can watch again. In my esteem it ranks as one of the top 10 beautiful films!
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91 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Low Star Power...High Quality March 7, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
I'm quite in agreement with the reviewer who wrote that this is the best version of Tolstoy's classic--which I have, in fact, read. This is distinct from the "Fonda/Hepburn" version for that very reason: the mid-'50's version is known as the "Fonda/Hepburn" version. There were no Stars in this BBC production, just excellent actors. Mind you, anyone who watched a lot of Masterpiece theatre was able to follow Angela Down [Princess Marya Nokolaievna Bolkonskaya] into a subsequent series, "The Glittering Prizes;" or Frank Middlemass who portrayed General Kutuzov into "Poldark" as Uncle Charles. It was only later that Anthony Hopkins went Hollywood, and became recognized; although his portrayal of gay butcher Richard the Lion Hearted in "The Lion in Winter" was superb in '68.
This is the best, most faithful to the book, version of War and Peace available.
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63 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the best film version made of War and Peace August 9, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I saw this film only once, 25 years ago when it was serialized on PBS, and I have been waiting to see it again ever since. I have seen every other film version of War and Peace, but none can compare to this one. Anthony Hopkins is superb as Pierre.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A GRAND EPIC January 18, 2005
Format:VHS Tape
I first viewed the 1972 BBC dramatization of Tolstoy's War and Peace when it was broadcast around 1982 on Masterpiece Theater as 14 one-hour episodes. Captivated by the panoply of gowns, uniforms and palatial interiors and enchanted by the capricious dynamics between the many characters, I had no interest in or understanding of the "war" aspect of the story. Indeed, the myriad explanations of military strategy were tedious to me at the time. I had attempted to read Tolstoy's novel many times but found the Russian names difficult to grasp and differentiate. The best result of my viewing of this film series was that it inspired me to finally have the courage to read the book. The film provided proper pronunciation of the names and gave me faces to connect to the names; this made the reading much more pleasurable.

To my knowledge, PBS never rebroadcast this War and Peace, as so many other excellent and memorable programs have not been aired a second or third time, no matter how worthy. So I am grateful to the deities of video for blessing us with VHS/DVD. Viewing this series again, I am surprised by the things I didn't notice or appreciate on my first and second viewings. How did I overlook or ignore all the philosophical asides delivered by Pierre and Andrei? It was as if I were seeing this program for the first time and had never read the book - which I am now inspired to give a second reading.

Anthony Hopkins is superb as the mumbling, stumbling Pierre who is constantly searching for something to which he may devote his simmering passion - despite the deceit and crassness he encounters in his society.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Follows the Book very well October 8, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I've seen the three main versions of War and Peace and all three have their strengths and weaknesses. The primary strength of this version is that it follows the book very well. When I read the book, I was strongly attracted to Princess Maria, but she is barely portrayed in the other two films. In this version we are able to see her develop and understand the relationship between her and Natasha's brother. The detail is not lost, because this version takes it's time and shows everything.
The primary weakness of this version is that battle scenes are not as spectacular as the other two versions, and the modern updating of dialogue (with inferences that I doubt the original author did not completely intend, i.e. the children's joke about the doll and the baby at the beginning of the first part). But not withstanding these weaknesses, I recommend this version.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent acting, good script that follows the book
Typical BBC production, excellent acting, good script that follows the book.
Published 2 months ago by geeluvr
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Very poor BBC production. I was very unhappy with this purchase.
Published 2 months ago by Zappa 1258
1.0 out of 5 stars OK but......
I am not writing a one star review to demean this production, for what it is it is quite good. I am writing instead to encourage those on the fence to choose Sergei Bondarchuk's... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Michael Adams
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the time...
I tried reading this when I was in my 20's. At that time I did not have the patience to work through this novel. Read more
Published 2 months ago by The Sequoyah Guy
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good stuff. I don't think this quality performance and production could be duplicated in this day of C.G.A.
Published 3 months ago by Chris
5.0 out of 5 stars Fifteen hours did the book justice and I think I'll say my favorite...
There are some British miniseries that you wish would never end.........
This was one of them......... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Armand C. Monturano
5.0 out of 5 stars War & Peace, or How I Met Anthony Hopkins
I was about 25---utterly mad for the series, and, though I'd been married for some years/had two kids, I was sleeping with Anthony's picture beneath my pillow. Read more
Published 4 months ago by holly b switzer
5.0 out of 5 stars loved this too
This miniseries is as close to the lengthy novel that one will get. I thoroughly enjoyed watching. I t help to bring the novel to life for me.
Published 4 months ago by Jane Doee
3.0 out of 5 stars Read the book first
The book was better than the movie. For some reason I could not accept the character played by Anthony Hopkins compared to his recent works. Read more
Published 5 months ago by beachykeen
2.0 out of 5 stars Why doesn't this have captions?
The VHS version that came out in the 1990s has closed captions. The DVDs do not have CC or subtitles. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Michael C.
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