War and Peace Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ April 5, 2013
The gentle Pierre and the warlike Andrei experience Napoleon's invasion of Russia.
This is not a film but a monument, a tribute, a love letter of Cliff's Notes to Tolstoy's novel. Though I must confess that I have yet to read the book, I can see lurking beneath the melodrama of the film Tolstoy's sharp characters and moral dilemmas. Tolstoy is so sharp a writer and such a master of inner monologue that no film could get inside the heads of these characters like his prose, and there lies the film's weakness. But despite its medium and the film's flaws, what lies beneath unfolds in fits and starts. And what fits and starts they are. The need for war but the reasonable repulsion of it, the dalliance of youth and the practiced certitude of adulthood, and the question of what makes militaries and states great are all themes that emerge if only in abstractions in King Vidor's epic film.
Overall, this is an ambitious project that fails because it cannot capture all the goals its source material sets, but it succeeds sublimely sometimes.
Super Reviewer
½ February 29, 2012
Henry Fonda and Audrey Hepburn are a reason to watch, even if it is CRAZY long and boring for long stints.
Super Reviewer
September 26, 2007
Lumbering, stagnant version of an epic novel that could not possibly be covered in 3 1/2 hours. Miscasting is another major downfall of this production, Audrey Hepburn and Henry Fonda were great stars and very fine actors but they were the wrong ones for this film. Fine production design and beautiful photography do not an entertaining film make. A trial to sit through.
Super Reviewer
February 12, 2007
What a very long epic film classic. Really interested drama story of international conflict, spectacular adventure, gripping intrigue and tragic romance set against the sweeping backdrop of Napoleon's invasion of Russia. It's also a bit familiar to 1939's Gone with the Wind. I found out this took five years to make at enormous cost; it is a cinematic treasure.
Super Reviewer
½ May 26, 2014
A slight mess albeit one with Henry Fonda and Audrey Hepburn so they are able to save it a little bit. It's a case of the actors not having a great interpretation of the text to work with and unfortunately they have 3 and a half hours worth.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ June 5, 2012
Wow, this puppy's almost three-and-a-half hours long, and it still feels like they cut a whole heap of things out; that's how long "War and Peace" is. Forget his religious excuses, Leo Tolstoy probably grew that crazy beard over the course of re-reading the prologue to his mammoth masterpiece. Seriously, the book is almost as thick as Audrey Hepburn's eyebrows, though certainly more thick then her body measurements. No, she was a cute little glob of hair on a stick, though maybe Tiffany should have stayed at the breakfast table a little bit longer, or at least have something to eat while she watched this film, for although it's still not as long as it should be, you're still gonna be here a while if you're going to pop this baby on. Hey, complaints about the length aside, at least it got King Vidor's name out, and I'm not glad of that because I like his films, seeing as how I'm one of the good couple who hasn't seen any of the 60+ projects he did before this (Not kidding) or two he did after, but because I just love the fact that there was someone out there named King Vidor, something that I feel more people need to know about. I'd imagine many of the critics who have seen more of stuff would agree with me that he needs more recognition nowadays, though they wish it was for a better film. I don't know about y'all, but I for one enjoyed this "little" number, though if you are like me and surprised at how there are a lot of lengthy films from way back that still rushed exposition way too much, then buddy, you haven't seen a thing yet.

Okay, now, sit down, because this may blow you away: ...I have never read "War and Peace", if you can believe it, considering that I'm "such a big reader" (Sorry, but sarcasm is hard to convey in text), though I am certainly that, for this film adaptation, the story had to be cut to ribbons, though not quite as deeply as you might think. To my finding, the film really doesn't feel terribly hurried in its progression, yet what the abridging does taint are some of your more subtle touches, which can mean the most in cases such as these. Tonal transitions, of which I'm sure there is supposed to be many, feel too brief, leaving the film tonally uneven, with an inconsistent level of urgency, though urgency that never really takes off that far. The humanity within the source material is not terribly fleshed out, rendering the complexities within some characters to feel lacking in motivation, leaving a fair deal of characters either unlikable or simply uninteresting, as there's not enough exposition behind their humanity for it to stand all that firm as believable. Also, the tainted sweep within the film leaves the general resonance to often go limp, sometimes to the point of being disengaging, and this ineffectiveness is made all the worse by some repetition and the simple fact that this film, by it's own right, is fairly generic. Whether it be because the film omits many of the inventive touch that made many points in the original text so unique or whatever, this film often collapses into many a convention found throughout films of its type and time, rendering its engagement to further go distant, leaving at a state of being not at all emotionally vacant, though still rather emotionally lacking. However, while this film is not up to par with its potential, let alone its source material, it's still an enjoyable epic, held together by epic sweep that may not be terribly intense, though not from lack of trying.

Only so many production designs really bounce out, and the ones that do tend to be a little familiar, yet they still stand as components to an immersive atmosphere over this film. Much of this can also be said about Jack Cardiff's cinematographer, which doesn't standout terribly, especially considering the dating, yet there's still enough engaging scope to it that is rarely used to really capture the world, yet when it does, it's a sight to see. I wish there was more manipulation of the spectacle to supplement substance, yet as things stand, the livliness in the production really does keep the film from getting too disengaging, structuring the world well enough to where some emotional resonance can be found. Much of the rest of the resonance is handled by, well, certainly not the performers. Audrey Hepburn really stands out as obnoxiously unlikable in her one-note, badly overacted performance, and a couple of other performers aren't much better, with the ones who are genuinely good giving their all, yet with not enough equal players to land a terribly deep dent in this film's armor of underwhelmingness. The final blow to the film that makes it ultimately worth a shot is director King Vidor, who is in no way not at fault for damaging the film on some level, yet he also makes it as enjoyable as it is, bestowing upon the atmosphere consistent charm and entertainment value, while what resonant moments that do make it through go intensified by Vidor's, at times, engrossing storytelling. Now, I understand that these strengths don't sound all that powerful, especially in comparison to the flaws of the film, yet what this film does deliver on, it hits so sharply that it almost leaves the film to fully transcend averageness, yet the flaws still stand to firmly, though not enough for the film to still stand as, if nothing else, thoroughly entertaining, even if much is ultimately left to be desired from a substance standpoint.

At the end of the day, which is the probably the appropriate length need for this film to really deliver, while the cuts aren't terribly glaring, as far as pacing and progression is concerned, there's still such damaging trimming to the tonal consistency and other unique touches, rendering the film occasionally repetitious and generic, as well disengagingly distant and often uneven, yet the film is made attractive by its sweeping production, as well as consistent charm and entertainment value, broken up by the occasional piece of genuine emotional impact, thus leaving King Vidor's take on "War and Peace" to stand as faulty as an worthy adaptation of the classic novel, yet still wildly entertaining as an epic, by its own right.

2.5/5 - Fair
November 27, 2010
Too long and hated the message, but it looked terrific and I actually liked Audrey Hepburn in this role. It wasn't a perfect fit for her because it's so hard to hate her (which is necessary at times in the story), but she didn't drag the film down. If anything, I was distracted by Henry Fonda--and, in particular, his eye-liner. What was up with that?
June 20, 2011
Nothing very interesting or special about this movie. It jumps back and forth between following a specific group of civilians and showing the bigger picture of the war. The first is occasionally interesting (Audrey Hepburn in particular stands out) but the latter caused a great deal of emotional disconnect. The last third of the film focused almost entirely on the politics and military strategies, all but abandoning the original cast of characters. Too long a movie for not nearly enough payoff.
½ July 20, 2008
I enjoy watching Audrey work with her husband in this film. Yet, I must admit this film in very long.
August 18, 2007
I'm sure that compared to Tolstoy's original book, this movie is pretty bad. But it's still entertaining with good performances.
½ July 24, 2007
This movie is long but, so is the book. Audrey Hepburn makes the length worth it. Didn't give it 5 stars because in one of the death scenes the guys adam's apple moves 3 minutes after his death. It irks me.
½ February 12, 2007
Though this movie is very long, it's definately worth watching. It's very touching and made me cry.
November 27, 2006
Audrey Hebourne manages to convey that Natasha loves Pierre, even when her character doesn't yet know it. One of the best things about war and peace is the way that characters are molded in the furnace of war. This movie proved to be very touching and eloquent. Pierre and Natasha were played to the best effect.
½ August 14, 2015
3 and a half hours was too long. I watched the first hour and then skipped through scenes. Some characters looked alike so i got confused and Natasha wasn't a very likable character to me. No motivation or caring to keep watching.
½ July 3, 2013
Always keep a young girl warm.

Two aristocrat French families in the early 1800s are split by the war. Napoleon is on a mission of world domination while the families are on a mission to find love. As the families are split by the war and need for troops, star crossed lovers try to find a way to make things work.

"I have sinned, Lord. But I have several fine excuses."

King Vidor, director of The Big Parade, Duel in the Sun, The Crowd, Solomon and Sheba, Three Wise Fools, and Dusk Till Dawn, delivers War and Peace. The storyline for this picture is amazing and wonderfully compelling. This picture is a true epic in every way and concludes well. I loved the script, characters, and acting. The cast includes Audrey Hepburn, Henry Fonda, Mel Ferrer, Barry Jones, and May Britt.

"You study and become enlightened. I study and become confused."

War and Peace is a movie I came across on Netflix and was surprised that there is a Audrey Hepburn film I was completely oblivious to. I really liked how this film came together. This is a very long picture with several fascinating characters. The subplots are excellent and the overall film comes together perfectly. There are some slow portions of this film; but overall, this is definitely a must see.

"Death is an awakening."

Grade: A-
June 11, 2013
Fascinating but intermitently ridiculous. Audrey Hepburn truly sparkle and henry Fonda has the perfect aristocratic demeanor but his russianness does not translate at all and theres only so much french court worship that can cover for this. The battle scènes are awesome. I wish so many of the philisophical points hadnt been left out. Its lush and long but doesnt feel long so to chose some more substantial scènes and contents from this sprawling book could have done this tame movie a favor.
April 13, 2013
Oscar Homolka and Herbert Lom as General Kutuzov and Napoleon Bonaparte give us a slim excuse to stay with this mediocrity through to its conclusion. The radiant Audrey Hepburn barely survives a clumsy screenplay; the Tolstoy men are foppish and ineffective.
½ July 21, 2012
It went for far too long. The Best part of the movie by far is Audrey Hepburn :)
½ January 6, 2013
Excellent movie in every respect. Great acting, great sets, a wonderful story, 100 times better than most movies made today. A wonderful adaptation of Tolstoy's brilliant novel. Best suited to an audience with life experience & interest in moral issues and history. Probably not suitable for the Facebook generation.
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