Voyna i Mir (War and Peace) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Voyna i Mir (War and Peace) Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ February 19, 2007
Tolstoy philosophy, epic panoramas of the landscape, and upper class human drama from early 1800's Russia combine in this nearly 7 hour four part film.

Film 1 Andrei Bolkonsky

This part is itself split into two parts as well, but both focus on Prince Andrei Bolkonsky. He has lived a privileged existence with his sister under his father's harsh and disciplined hand. Prince Bolkonsky finds out that his wife is pregnant just as he is preparing to leave for war. His father does care and wishes that Andrei would stay safe at home, but Andrei wishes to make a name for himself through his own work leading men into battle. Pierre Bezukhov is also introduced as played by the director of the picture, Sergei Bondarchuk. Pierre is friends with Prince Andrei and they often go for walks talking about the meaning of life and the purpose of war. Pierre serves as our narrator for much of Tolstoy's philosophical observations, but we also hear the interior monologue of several characters as they ponder things and make decisions. Pierre openly describes himself as the illegitimate son of a wealthy Count or some such nobility. He doesn't see the point of going off to fight Napoleon. He feels he doesn't quite fit in to the rest of the upper crust society. Bondarchuk plays him appropriately as an awkward melancholy fellow who is the main connecting thread through the length of the film. Pierre is related to the Rostova family, the other main players in the story. We briefly meet Natasha Rostova in this part as an energetic, playful young girl. We jump back and forth from the festivities and grandly decorated homes of the well-to-do to the dirt and smoke and death of the battlefields. Andrei and Pierre both lose their wives, but in different ways. They end up by expressing philosophies about the purpose of life that are at odds with each other until Prince Andrei sees what the oak tree has to teach us. This movie has amazing period detail. This is a great piece of Russian literature adapted into an epic movie by Russian filmmakers, and so a lot of effort has been put into all the performances to bring this time in history to life. This movie has absolutely awe inspiring panning and tracking shots. The scenes that take place in locations of a grand scale are shot with seemingly never ending fluid camera movement!

Film 2 Natasha Rostova

As you would guess, this part is focused on Natasha. She has grown up a little bit, but is still quite giggly and childish. She is a debutante at her first ball where she worries that no one will ask her to dance. Finally Pierre suggests that Prince Andrei dances with her. They share a magical dance and fall madly in love. But it takes months for Andrei to come to call at the Rostova house. When Natasha is at her wits end and the Prince finally shows up, he is concerned because she is so much younger than he is and has hardly experienced life, so he determines to wait a YEAR before marrying her. This only drives the girl more crazy. When Natasha is confiding to her mother she acts so young. I would call it something more annoying than charming, which is how she describes herself. I can kind of see why Andrei's romantic passion has cooled a bit and his reasons for wanting to wait. When Natasha goes to see a ballet, the picture gets a little surreal and I had trouble following exactly what was going on. Well, eventually Natasha shows how easily love can change by falling for another dashing young man in a uniform. This part ends with a little poetry about a comet as the war of 1812 starts to get under way. Again we are treated to sweeping camera work and plenty of artistic flourishes.

Film 3 1812

Prince Bolkonsky's father begins to go demented because Napoleon and the French keep advancing through Russia. The senior Bolkonsky feels his soul and the mother country Russian die as one. Pierre and Natasha share a moment where it is obvious something more could develop between them if circumstances were different. But then it is off to war with Kutuzov taking a larger role in the story. Prince Bolkonsky has taken a more active role leading a battalion of soldiers instead of being an aid to the general. Pierre finally becomes curious about war and shows up on the battlefield in a gentleman's dress white suit. The horrors of war are stunningly captured in yet more epic panoramas of fire, smoke, horses, and men. Pierre and Prince Andrei do have one final conversation before the big battle, in which I found Andrei's dialogue to be movingly poetic. "War is not a polite recreation, but the vilest thing in life. And we ought to understand that and not play at war. We ought to accept it solemnly as a fearful necessity. Enough lying: if it's war, then it's war and not a game. They meet together to murder one another, as we shall do tomorrow; they slaughter and mutilate tens of thousands of men, and then offer up thanksgiving services for the number of men they have killed, and even add to it in the telling, and glorify the victory, supposing that the more men killed the greater the achievement. One who succeeds in killing the most people, gets the greatest rewards. How God can look down from above and hear them?" Though the Russians had great losses, Tolstoy writes that they won metaphorically. Our narrator believes that through the men's love of their country and their fighting at Borodino, which led to the turn around in Napoleon's success, that they were victorious. This is the shortest part with the least amount of one on one relationship drama.

Film 4 Pierre Bezukhov

So, God and Country! Though Tolstoy's words try to suggest that this story is about all of humanity, about life, in the previous parts, I didn't really see it as anything other than a polemic against Napoleon and a defense of faith and nationalism. That is until this conclusion constructed by the filmmakers. Kutuzov struggles with thoughts of failure. Prince Andrei faces death and he and Natasha rediscover their love for each other. The French invade Moscow and plunder everything. As the ash is whipped around by the wind and flames when Moscow burns down, you can feel your eyes watering as you see it all through Pierre. Pierre finally fights for something and nearly faces death, but comes to appreciate life in more than an intellectual way. Winter brings the end of the war because the French aren't accustomed to the extreme weather and the Russian soldiers are compassionate to the French survivors. A sense of brotherhood between soldiers from the opposing countries is shown. There are a few more beautifully surreal dream-like sequences. Triumphant symbolism of waters, clouds, fields of grass, forests of rustling trees, and general nature are used to portray a celebration of life! Tolstoy's words conclude with, "My idea, in its entirety, is that if vile people unite and constitute a force, then decent people are obliged to do likewise; just that."

The three leads are excellent. The supporting characters and bit parts are all believable. The music is grand. Sure it is long. It takes quite a commitment of time and energy to get through all the melodrama and deliberate pacing, but it is a rewarding story. My favorite special features on the 5 DVD set are the interview with cinematographer Anatoly Petritsky and the Making the Film documentary. There are many many special features from set design illustrations to text giving some important historical context. Well worth it, if you have the time and patience.
Super Reviewer
September 29, 2015
It does suffer from a two hour section where the pace slows to a crawl, but the remaining five hours are filled with the most incredible battle scenes ever seen on film, and the astounding 1812 Fire Of Moscow.
Critique Threatt
Super Reviewer
December 4, 2010
It is a very long picture. A very long masterpiece at it's finest. Is it me or have I been leaning towards Russian pictures lately?
July 1, 2012
A once in a lifetime experience, an immense visual masterpiece, as well as a peerless look into Tolstoy's mind, and brilliance.
July 14, 2010
Considering its cost and the vast effort that went into its making, such a film can be made only once in our time. The wonder, indeed, is that it was made at all. Exhaustive, spectacular, often dazzling in its ambition and faithfulness to Tolstoy, the movie is to be regarded as one of the wonders of epic cinema.
March 19, 2011
stunning, visually inventive 4-part, 8-hour epic on a scale we may never see in film again. in part 1 i thought, 'this is the most amazing battle sequence i've ever seen,' only to have it dwarfed by the battle in part 3. masterfully swoops from a god's eye view into the minute psychologies of a crowd of characters. features unbelievable locations, setpieces, and costumes, but also tells a sweeping emotional story that spans as many years as it took to film. a must see if you love historical epics.
May 15, 2010
Probably,the best Russian movie ever.You should watch it,cause it's truly great.Amazing actors,decoration and close-to-original-book screenplay.
April 21, 2010
[i][b]Gimme Shelter[/b][/i]
Gimme Shelter is the second documentary I have ever seen (Yeah kind of pathetic isn't it?). It is fascinating and I was really surprised at how good it was. This is how documentaries should be made.

Rating: 88/100

[i][b]A Nous La Liberte[/b][/i]
A nous la liberte was a pretty entertaining comedy. The plot seemed a little wild at times, but it was always enjoyable. It wasn't really as good as I heard it was, but it was still worth watching.

Rating: 80/100
[i][b]
The Cranes are Flying[/b][/i]
This is a great Russian war film, a must see for anyone who likes war and/or romance films. It pulls you in from the very start. I absolutely loved every minute of it.

Rating: 98/100
[b]
[i]Autumn Sonata[/i][/b]
Autumn Sonata is yet another great Ingmar Bergman film. It essentialy shows the relationship between a mother and daughter who have been seperated for seven long years.

Rating: 87/100
[i][b]
Voina I Mir [/b][/i]
This incredible epic, weighing in at almost seven hours, and $530,000,000 is amazing. The cast actually does a great job, and the story is very good, seeing that they had to adapt it from such a large novel. The battle scenes were also amazing. Since there were over 100,000 extras, they tried to make it as realistic as possible, and it turned out great. If you can get your hands on this, you're in for a treat.

Rating: 95/100
March 3, 2010
As I popped this in, I was thinking "What the hell am I doing? I've got a billion other movies to watch, I don't have the patience now for a 7-hour one. I should just save this for some other time." Within about 20 minutes, I was hooked. I've never read the novel, but of course I'm aware with its status as a massive work of literature. A big book needs a big movie, and this is the epic to end all epics. HUGE crowds of people, opulent sets, magnificently choreographed dances, big sweeping camera moves (some of the helicopter and crane shots have to be seen to be believed) and heaps of drama. There's a lot of rubles on display here, but that's not all that makes this impressive. Bondarchuk does a terrific job with just about every aspect of it, keeping it compelling for most of the entire length of the picture. It's poetic and moving and beautiful and horrifying and... well, just damn impressive. Some of the best, most intricate battle scenes I've ever witnessed. Glorious music. The acting is all first-rate, including Bondarchuk himself in one of the central roles. Despite the epic sweep and gigantic cast, the story stays focused primarily on three characters, which keeps things from ever getting too confusing. The dialogue and narration is sometimes a bit too on-the-nose, but when you're dealing with such large themes, sometimes a little shorthand is necessary. It's a very small nitpick for a movie that's so engaging, and so frequently astonishing.
February 2, 2008
forget the audrey hepburn version...this is the ultimate one to see...epic and artful at the same time with the biggest battle scenes ever filmed. Ludmilla Savelyeva is a radiant Natashe...just breathtaking.
December 19, 2007
The first half is much better at developing characters, but still pretty amazing to condense 1300+ pages into a movie of this quality. Supposedly they spent over 100 Million in 1968 which would be more than 700 Million now. That's insane!
½ June 2, 2007
Sergei Bondarchuk's masterpiece. It is 511 minutes and the term "epic" doesn't seem appropriate enough. it amazes me how many thousands of extras and crew people worked on this film. It is long, beautiful and you will not forget it.
March 9, 2016
Epic in scope with beautiful cinematography, costumes and acting. Exactly as I would've imagined it while reading "War and Peace".
½ February 8, 2016
Quite a set piece. Can see the influence of almost every Russian film after it in here--Solaris, Russian Ark, Hard to Be a God, Day Watch -- everything!
Super Reviewer
September 29, 2015
It does suffer from a two hour section where the pace slows to a crawl, but the remaining five hours are filled with the most incredible battle scenes ever seen on film, and the astounding 1812 Fire Of Moscow.
October 18, 2010
The best screen version of the best novel ever written.Bondarchuk's War & Peace is absolutely unique masterpiece.One of the most magnificent films of XX century.
May 31, 2013
This is an epic masterpiece in the history of film. 8 hours of great acting, battle scenes, realism, the perfect score and the theme of Tolstoy's novel were executed magnificently. I recommend you to watch this film, real soldiers were used, no CGI. this guy was the same dude who directed Waterloo. If you want an 8 hour fest of the best quality film, this is for you.
August 12, 2012
A titanic achievement in literature and this is the definitive adaptation...
July 1, 2012
A once in a lifetime experience, an immense visual masterpiece, as well as a peerless look into Tolstoy's mind, and brilliance.
½ March 21, 2012
only 6 hours!? Pfff
Well, survived it, but i must say it is georgous to look at, never boring, but sometimes a bit dull and liveless. There are too many monologues and too many war scenes, not enough dialogues and poor natasha rostova as the bad end of the straw, her story is not exploited enough, especially the Kuraghin plot is left out. but the camera work is for that age ( 65) beautufull and innovating
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