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War and Peace
War and Peace
Actors: Audrey Hepburn, Henry Fonda, Mel Ferrer, Vittorio Gassman, Herbert Lom
Director: King Vidor
Genres: Indie & Art House, Classics, Drama, Military & War
PG     2002     3hr 28min

SPRUCED UP ADAPTATION OF LEO TOLSTOY'S EPIC NOVEL ABOUT THE LIFEOF A RUSSIAN FAMILY DURING THE WAR OF 1812.

     

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Movie Details

Actors: Audrey Hepburn, Henry Fonda, Mel Ferrer, Vittorio Gassman, Herbert Lom
Director: King Vidor
Creators: King Vidor, Bridget Boland, Ennio De Concini, Gian Gaspare Napolitano, Ivo Perilli, Leo Tolstoy, Mario Camerini
Genres: Indie & Art House, Classics, Drama, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Classics, Love & Romance, Classics, Military & War
Studio: Paramount
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 12/03/2002
Original Release Date: 08/21/1956
Theatrical Release Date: 08/21/1956
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 3hr 28min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
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Member Movie Reviews

Peter Q. (Petequig)
Reviewed on 2/10/2011...
A great epic tale...must be patient because of the length. Great cast.
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Superb...for a Hollywood production
Charles Ryder | Tokyo | 11/19/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"With 10 years in the making, two years of filming and (as a previous reviewer noted) no less than six writers, Tolstoy's epic masterpiece à la Hollywood does get a bit muddled and lost at times, but who cares!?!? The film's cast is stellar. Audrey Hepburn, Mel Ferrer and Henry Fonda were each born to play their respective roles in this monumental film. Fonda plays the quixotic Pierre almost as good as Sergei Bondarchuk does in the more accurate (though also more brutal and heart-wrenching) 1967 Russian version. Hepburn, as the dazzling and ingenuous Natasha is a perfect foil to Mel Ferrer's Prince Andre, who loses his melancholy and determined seriousness only in the presence of Natasha (the same could almost be said of the film!).Where the Hollywood version is lacking in battle scenes, historic detail, commentary from ordinary Russians and several key character developments (Mary Oblonsky, Nicholas Rostov, the Tsar, Denisov et al), it more than makes up for it with personal performances (above mentioned actors), set and costume design and an overall mood and tone consistent with the book. This film should not be seen by people who demand faithful and tireless book-to-screen adaptations (the Sergei Bondarchuk version might be a better choice), but by people who want to get a sublime essence of one of the greatest novels ever written."
Very good, although ...
A reviewer | USA | 11/09/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"As a deeply-adoring Audrey Hepburn fan, I have mixed feelings about this movie, as do many Hepburn devotees. It's hard not to wonder what the then-new epic master, David Lean, might have done with it, had he been in charge instead of King Vidor, a giant of the silent era from decades before.

The story I gather from Hepburn biographies is that the producer of this movie shrewdly cast Hepburn's husband, Mel Ferrer, before offering a part to her. Immediately a rival pre-production group shut down their preparations for a "War and Peace" adaptation, knowing that the plum actress for the part would surely not sign with them. (To my knowledge, Lean never got anywhere near either production.)

Well, if that's the case, then "War and Peace" might have been flawed from the start. The domino effect of starting with Ferrer's casting, securing the directorial efforts of a somewhat-aging Vidor, and also having Hepburn to make love to her own husband onscreen, might have meant that something about this movie seems a bit too comfortable for all involved in making it. It's not as dramatic as it needs to be, as cruel in its cruel moments as it needs to be, and therefore not as inspiring and revelatory of what's great about the human spirit when it needs to be. It does -- to my mind -- feel a bit bloated, a bit slow, and never quite at that high-stakes level you might hope.

Indeed, another story about the movie and its "problematic-ness" was told by King Vidor himself in his autobiography. Apparently, at the time of the movie's production or maybe release, his wife had chid him for letting his own, rather fatherly affection for Audrey Hepburn prevent him from letting her play the fullness of Natasha's character -- which is not always a pleasant one in the book. Vidor copped to this accusation, accepting that he had not pushed her as he might have. Tellingly, in the autobiography he went so far (I believe) as to name young Hepburn as his favorite actress to have ever worked with. There is something touching but not quite fortunate in that, because "War and Peace" will never be remembered as a Vidor masterpiece or even a work of the man in his prime. Perhaps it illustrates that, again, this movie was only going to go so far with itself.

Who knows? But my favorite story about this movie shows the intelligence of Hepburn herself. She had asked that Peter Ustinov be cast as Pierre, which to my mind would have been completely perfect casting. Pierre in the book is a bit rotund, a bit clumsy, but also strongly intellectual and bursting with questions about life and society. Ustinov would have been perfect, given the mind and the comic talent he had. (Ustinov also wrote a lovely eulogy upon Audrey Hepburn's death, which is quoted in his book "Still at Large." He thanked her for thinking of him when Pierre needed casting, saying that her choice of him had continued to surprise him throughout his life. He too was a UNICEF representative in his lifetime, and when he passed away, my mourning for him was mixed with thoughts of Hepburn as well.)

But as to the movie ... I will say that there is nothing inept or embarrassing about this adaptation. There are world-class actors in this movie, and if you're waiting for mistakes from them, don't hold your breath. (Henry Fonda, whatever his speaking accent, definitely understood something about Pierre, as did Ferrer about Andrei and certainly Hepburn about Natasha.) You can watch this movie straight through or in sections on DVD, and probably come to like it quite a bit either way. It's gorgeous for Hepburn alone, but also in so many other ways. But once you know the background of the movie, you do risk getting a case of the what-ifs? If you can ignore them, more power to you."
The Hollywood version
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 08/23/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This film is a bit of a mess, but nevertheless very entertaining, mostly because of Audrey Hepburn...her charisma and enthusiasm make up for a lot of the muddled and mixed performances that surround her in this star-studded production of Tolstoy's masterpiece.Hepburn's then real life husband, Mel Ferrer, does a pretty good job as Prince Andrei and Henry Fonda is Pierre, who despite sounding like "Young Mr. Lincoln", gives a convincing performance, and has several fine scenes. Nino Rota's score is a curious one, as the beautiful Italian-flavored melodies we're accustomed to hear from him are replaced by Russian folk tunes and battlefield music.Perhaps too many big names and too many writers (6 of them !) made the heart of the book get lost, but this is Audrey's movie, and she's a delight to watch."