War and Peace (1956)

“When I finally say I love you to any man and really mean it, it will be like a defeated general who’s lost all his troops, surrendering and handing his sword to the enemy.” – Natasha

Number of Times Seen – 1 (12 Sep 2018)

Brief Synopsis – A look at the Napoleonic wars from the perspective of two Russian aristocratic families and how their lives are changed by those turbulent times.

My Take on it – This is a film that I’ve heard about for decades yet was always hesitant to see since the book it is based on is extremely long and (according to some) quite boring and the movie comes in at about 3 and a half hours long.

Having never read the book, I only knew that this story was about how the Russians dealt with the invasion of Napoleon and his French forces.

This film is done epicly by Director King Vidor and he manages to keep the story compelling, interesting and fully understandable even if it is overall very complex.

He was deserving nominated for an Oscar for Best Director for this film and it’s quite easy to see why.

The cast is superb with Audrey Hepburn, Henry Fonda and Mel Ferrer all giving amazing performances.

Fonda plays a character much younger than he probably should be portraying yet he still manages to pull it off quite well.

There are some parts of the story that feel a bit too soap operapy yet when looking at the story as a whole, it makes sense that those scenes were included.

The story successfully mixes romance and rivalry in turbulent times and the end result is quite enjoyable to watch.

Bottom Line – Epic portrait of how the world of Russian people were affected by the coming war with Napolean and his forces. Amazing cast helps accentuate the story and even though Fonda plays a role much too young for him, it still works quite well. Vidor was deservingly nominated for Best Director for this film especially given the fact that he is able to make such a long and drawn out novel into a compelling, interesting and comprehensible film (even if it’s 3 and a half hours long).  Parts of the story feel very soap operapy yet as things move along, it’s completely understandable why this are played out like that. Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Henry Fonda claimed that he had agreed to do the film after reading a version of the screenplay written by Irwin Shaw, and was much displeased when this was re-written by others. He also claimed that producer Dino De Laurentiis would go into fits of screaming rage whenever he saw him wearing eyeglasses, as the character of Pierre is supposed to do; De Laurentiis insisted that this was not properly heroic, which suggested to both Fonda and King Vidor that he had never actually read the book. Fonda and Vidor used the eyeglasses only on those days when De Laurentiis didn’t visit the set (which, fortunately, were quite numerous). (From IMDB)

Rating – Globe Worthy (8/10)


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5 thoughts on “War and Peace (1956)

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