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War & Peace (1968)

4.4 out of 5 stars 117 customer reviews

Additional DVD options Edition Discs
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(Mar 13, 2007)
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Editorial Reviews

Winner of Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award, this classic brings all the passion and turbulence of Leo Tolstoy's epic masterpiece dramatically to the screen.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Lyudmila Saveleva, Vyacheslav Tikhonov, Sergey Bondarchuk, Boris Zakhava, Anatoli Ktorov
  • Directors: Sergey Bondarchuk
  • Writers: Sergey Bondarchuk, Leo Tolstoy, Vasiliy Solovyov
  • Format: Box set, Color, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: French, German, Russian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Hurricane Int'l
  • DVD Release Date: March 13, 2007
  • Run Time: 427 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000GL18CC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,908 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "War & Peace (1968)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Patrick W. Crabtree VINE VOICE on July 23, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
When I purchased this film, I wasn't paying proper attention, thinking that I was buying yet another version of Tolstoy's famous work; however, it is, in fact, the 1968 Bondarchuk epic which I already owned in widescreen (letterbox) and which has now been packaged and edited by another distributor. Yet, in the end, it's quite a different film!

First of all, this version has been "panned and scanned" to better facilitate a regular screen television -- so, this product is what we generally refer to as "full-screen". Second, there are a few editing differences including some scenes that were not in the widescreen (letterbox) version and misssing a few scenes that were. This does not radically change the film but it was certainly interesting to observe.

Finally, the voiceovers and subtitles are COMPLETELY different, being superior to the original widescreen (letterbox) version. Many more conversation parts are picked up in this version and the translation is far superior. In some cases, the two translations are quite different, this one aligning more with the highly recommended Maude translation of the original book.

In the end, I'm glad to own both versions, as each has its advantages and disadvantages. In picture quality, this one cannot compare to the widescreen (letterbox) version as the clarity was somewhat compromised by the blow-up of the negatives during the "pan and scan" process. Still, it's quite watchable.

As far as the story goes, this is one of the finest war films ever produced. The Hollywood version of War and Peace starring Henry Fonda is a pathetic joke compared to this Russian masterpiece.
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Format: DVD
I was fortunate enough to obtain an advance copy of the Ruscico 5-disc box set of WAR AND PEACE recently. Image Entertainment has acquired U.S. distribution rights for it; after some delay, it is scheduled to street in June. The amount of care put into this particular version is obvious. The widescreen anamorphic transfer looks as good as can be expected, considering the condition in which the film has been preserved and the poor quality Soviet stock on which the film was originally shot. The kind of extensive clean-up and digital restoration we are used to from companies like Criterion would have been prohibitively expensive for such a long and poorly preserved film like this. If you keep that in mind while watching the DVD, you'll be satisfied indeed. The sound has also been meticulously restored. If that weren't enough, the set is full of all sorts of interesting supplemental features, including an interview with Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov, the film's composer. An appropriately massive DVD set for the most massive film of all.
On the other hand, Kultur's currently available DVD of Bondarchuk's WAR AND PEACE is a big disappointment. While it also contains the full-length, 403-minute version, it's the same old pan & scan transfer that they used for the VHS over a decade ago. Not only are the sides of the film's original widescreen image lopped off, the top and bottom of the image are slightly cropped too--as a result, the DVD displays only about 50% of the image that we are intended to see, effectively ruining the film's striking visual compositions. The 5-disc set produced by Ruscico and to be released by Image Entertainment is substantially more expensive, but it's the only way to go if you want to see this film properly.
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Format: DVD
I had the opportunity to peruse this Kultur DVD edition of "War and Peace" enough to evaluate its presentation. Firstly, it's not letterboxed, but full-frame. The opening title sequence only is letterboxed to some extent so as not to cut off all the titles, and this looks as though the original aspect ratio is not particularly wide to begin with. So while not a great deal of picture is cut off from the sides, there is some missing. The print is a good one, and the beauty and power of the film come through, but it does not appear to have been restored to any great extent. This means that the color intensity, contrast, and brightness of the image fluctuates from scene to scene, and sometimes even within one scene (reel changes, perhaps?). The image throughout is a bit soft-focus, and it benefits greatly if you turn up the sharpness control on your monitor. There does not seem to be a great deal of blemishes, dirt, or damage, though.
The English subtitles are printed on the film itself, and therefore not removable. In the scenes where French is spoken, there is a voice superimposed on the soundtrack translating what is being said into Russian, which is of no interest to the English-speaking viewers who will be watching this DVD. In these cases, you have an actor speaking French, an additional voice speaking Russian, and an English subtitle simultaneously, which is distracting to say the least. It's hard to imagine why a print with this feature was chosen, unless it was the absolute best-looking print available.
That brings up the subject of the alternate issue of this film due at the end of December from the Russian Cinema Council (Ruscico). Judging from past Ruscico DVD releases, it may well be a restored, archive-quality print (hopefully letterboxed).
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