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57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Faithfully and beautifully rendered film of the book
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...
Published on June 12, 2000

versus
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but no subtitles or closed caption
Fast delivery and packed well. Beautiful production with superb acting. However, this 1972 BBC video has no subtitles or closed captions. Sound is okay but not great. Even with my hearing aids, I have to sit too near the TV to understand some dialogue but miss much. Obviously the vender couldn't have added text but could have warned buyers. If I missed a warning I...
Published 22 months ago by Larry R. Yates, Ph.D.


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57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Faithfully and beautifully rendered film of the book, June 12, 2000
By A Customer
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
By 
Ray West (San Francisco, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: War & Peace [VHS] (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
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
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.

Like Natasha (the nubile heroine), I could not help falling in love with Pierre's friend the brooding, dutiful and pensive Andrei, masterfully portrayed by Alan Dobie.

The beautiful gowns, uniforms and gentlemen's wear were created by Charles Knode, the costume designer who won the Academy Award for his creations in Blade Runner.

The story covers fifteen years with the War of 1812 in between, so the setup may seem slow and wearisome. The point is to follow how people grow (or not) through their experiences with each other and the circumstances in which they are thrown. Like the rest of us, these characters have "issues" - even before Napoleon imposed himself on them. However, as nearly all the characters become enmeshed in its effects, war accelerates "process".

To watch this movie now (2004) is eerie. War and peace. We certainly have war. Where is peace? Tolstoy, who died in 1910, first published his novel in 1865-1869. It is ironic that in the film, as he ponders the comet of 1812, Pierre wonders what the world will be like when the comet returns in a hundred years. The viewer has the benefit of knowing what neither Pierre nor Tolstoy could know, that the status quo of Russia in 1812 or 1820 suffers brutal and irreversible devastation.

In the film Napoleon's reason for invading Russia is so he can impose his universal code over all of Europe, referred to in the book as the Continental System, so that instead of scores of states and principalities, each with their own laws and courts, all of Europe would be governed under one set of laws, with one court system and one currency. Napoleon has nearly got his wish. What would he think of the EU - of which Russia is not a member?
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still wonderful after all these years, October 22, 2007
By 
steve (sunnyvale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: War & Peace (DVD)
I last saw this version 34 years ago (if my arithmetic is right), when I was in college. I remember it with awe. With 20 episodes in which to stretch out character development, there is room to fit much of the novel here. I was lucky enough to get an early copy of this and am about 30% of the way through again. At 54 I still love this version. It is an "old" TV production of the novel, but the acting, the acting...
If you can stand 1970's BBC production values, and a lack of computer graphics, wizards, and aliens, by all means take the plunge and watch this version.
I plan to watch it again before another 34 years have passed :)
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Follows the Book very well, October 8, 1999
By A Customer
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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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spetacular, May 15, 2002
By 
This review is from: War & Peace [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This War and Peace was just wonderful. I saw it many years ago when it was serialized on PBS and just loved it. Because it was thirteen episodes it was able to cover much from the book. It really fleshed out the characters especially the major ones. Unlike the movie version with Audrey Hepburn, Henry Fonda and Mel Ferrer, other important characters have major roles in this production which is critical to the story. The acting was just stupendous. That was the first I saw Anthony Hopkins and just knew he would be a major star. He was perfect as Pierre. I really loved this production.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hopkins' War and Peace, August 30, 2007
By 
Edward Adelman (Marin County, California) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: War & Peace (DVD)
War and Peace is by far my favorite book, and this version of it is, in my opinion, the best film ever made. When I read the book, I see these characters. The character portrayal comes as close to matching the book as any film ever has, but Tolstoy's philosophy is beautifully expressed. This is an unequalled treasure.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Which War and Peace to Watch?, November 9, 2010
This review is from: War & Peace (DVD)
The short answer up front is all three (the Hollywood/Hepburn version, the Bondarchuk/Russian version, and the BBC/Hopkins version). Each sheds a different light on Tolstoy's work (which I have read three times, in different translations). If you are completely unfamiliar with the work, I recommend starting with the Hollywood version. At 3 hours, it is the shortest (by half), adequately acted (if not always well cast), has reasonably good sound and picture quality, and provides, at least in outline form, the major plot elements of the novel. The Russian version is the definitive filming, with it's tens of thousands of extras, authentic locations, and a production budget that could not even be imagined in present-day Hollywood. The primary issues with this version relate to the long history of bad dubbing, bad subtitles, and arbitrary abridgements. The Rusico (NOT the Kultur) release presents the movie in its original, un-cut, widescreen, 4-part version, with the ability to individually select (or turn off) dubbing and subtitles in any combination. I cannot recommend this version highly enough (the sacking of Moscow makes the burning of Atlanta from GWTW look like a campfire, the palacial interiors are magnificent, and the Battle of the Borodino is completely unequalled on film). All of this being said, I believe that the BBC production is probably the best representation of the novel as a whole. At 14 hours (over twice the length of the Russian version and four times the length of the Hollywood version), this one allows for complete character development and a real appreciation of Tolstoy's philosopies of war and culture. Granted, the scope is not as large (there were only about 1,000 extras used, and the interiors are mostly all BBC studio sets), but the acting is universally superb, the English adaptation is excellent, and it tells the story in greater depth than either of the other two. Any one of the three will provide a good viewing experience - it just depands on what you want to take away from it.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars War & Peace, November 18, 2007
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This review is from: War & Peace (DVD)
I saw this version when it originally aired and I think is one of the best dramas ever shown in any media. The production is very true to the book and I like it better than the Russian version, which was produced about the same time, and the 1956 Hollywood version. I have look forward to its release to DVD for many years.

In my opinion this is Anthony Hopkins best work.
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War & Peace
War & Peace by John Davies (DVD - 2007)
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