War and Peace (1956)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

War and Peace is a commendable attempt to boil down Tolstoy's long, difficult novel into 208 minutes' screen time. In recreating the the social and personal upheavals attending Napoleon's 1812 invasion of Russia, $6 million was shelled out by coproducers Carlo Ponti, Dino de Laurentiis and Paramount Pictures. Some of the panoramic battle sequences are so expertly handled by second-unit director Mario Soldati that they appear to be Technicolor-and-Vistavision newsreel footage of the actual events. Still, the film falters dramatically, principally because of a lumpy script and King Vidor's surprisingly lustreless direction. In addition, the casting is wildly consistent: for example, while Audrey Hepburn is flawless as Natasha, Henry Fonda is far too "Yankeefied" as the introspective Pierre. Proving too long and unwieldy for most audiences, War and Peace died at the box office; far more successful was the epic, scrupulously faithful 1968 version, filmed in the Soviet Union.
PG (Rated PG for violence)
Art House & International , Classics , Drama , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Paramount Pictures

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Audrey Hepburn
as Natasha
Henry Fonda
as Pierre
Mel Ferrer
as Prince Andrei Bolkonsky
John Mills
as Platon Karatayev
Herbert Lom
as Napoleon
Oscar Homolka
as Gen. Mikhail Kutuzov
Anita Ekberg
as Helene Kuragin
Helmut Dantine
as Dolokhov
Barry Jones
as Count Ilya Rostov
Wilfred Lawson
as Prince Nicholas Bolkonsky
Jeremy Brett
as Nicholas Rostov
Lea Seidl
as Countess Rostov
Wilfrid Lawson
as Prince Nicholas Bolkonsky
Anna Maria Ferrero
as Mary Bolkonskv
Sean Barrett
as Petya Rostov
Tullio Carminati
as Prince Vasili Kuragin
May Britt
as Sonya Rostov
Patrick Crean
as Vasili Denisov
Gertrude Flynn
as Peronskaya
Alberto Carlo Lolli
as Rostov's Major-Domo
Mario Addobbati
as Young Servant at Rostov's
Gualtiero Tumiati
as Pierre's Father
Clelia Matania
as Mlle. Georges
Gianni Luda
as Soldiers During the Rostovs' Exile
Eschilo Tarquini
as Soldiers During the Rostovs' Exile
Alex D'Alessio
as Soldiers During the Rostovs' Exile
Alfredo Rizzo
as Soldiers During the Rostovs' Exile
Mauro Lanciani
as Young Prince Nicholas Bolkonsky
Ina Alexeiva
as His Governess
Don Little
as Young Dancing Partner of Natasha
Andre Eszterhazy
as Dolokhov's Second
John Horne
as Old Gentleman Dancing with Natasha
Sdenka Kirchen
as Old Maid at Rostov's
Nando Gallai
as Count Bezukhov's Servant
Piero Pastore
as Andrei Bolkonsky's Servant
Richard Macnamara
as De Beausset
Vincent Barbi
as Balaga
John Douglas
as Officers Talking with Natasha During Exile
Robert Stephens
as Officers Talking with Natasha During Exile
Luciano Angelini
as Young Soldier at Borodino
Charles Fawcett
as Russian Artillery Captain
Piero Palermini
as Russian Artillery Lieutenant
Angelo Galassi
as Russian Soldier
David Crowley
as Russian Soldier
Patrick Barrett
as Russian Soldier
Michael Billingsley
as Russian Soldier
Aldo Saporetti
as Young Officers at Orgy
Dimitri Konstantinov
as Young Officers at Orgy
Robin White Cross
as Young Officers at Orgy
Lucio DeSantis
as Young Officers at Orgy
Bob Cunningham
as Pierre's Second at Duel
Andre Esterhazy
as Dolokhov's Second
Marianna Leibl
as Servant at Bolkonsky's
Marisa Allasio
as Matriosa
Stephen Garrett
as Coachman/Doctor
Cesare Barbetti
as Young Boy
Francis Foucaud
as French Soldier
Savo Raskovitch
as Czar Alexander I
Georges Brehat
as French Officer at Execution
Gilberto Tofano
as Young Dying Soldier
Paole Quagliero
as Young Girl Protected by Pierre
Christopher Hofer
as French Officer During Retreat
Carlo Delmi
as Young Guard
Enrico Olivieri
as French Drummer
Eric Oulton
as Russian General
Archie Lyall
as Russian General
John Stacey
as Russian General
Mino Doro
as Russian General
Alan Furlan
as Russian Officer
Joop van Hulzen
as Russian Officer
Giovanni Rossi-Loti
as Young Russian Officer at Austerlitz
Giacomo Rossi-Stuart
as Young Cossack
Guido Celano
as Napoleon's Officer
Jerry Riggio
as French Officer
Geoffrey Copleston
as French Officer
Mimmo Palmara
as French Officer
Giorgio Constantini
as French Officer
Richard McNamara
as De Beausset
Andrea Fantasia
as Constand
Stephen Lang
as Tichon
Carlo Dale
as Young French Officer
Paul Davis
as Young French Officer
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Critic Reviews for War and Peace

All Critics (6) | Top Critics (1)

Alas, the human stories that Tolstoy told so significantly in the book are sketchy and inconsequential, despite the time devoted to them.

Full Review… | March 24, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

A stilted and ponderous epic about Napoleon's failed Russian invasion of 1812.

Full Review… | February 16, 2014
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Spectacle galore starring Hepburn and Fonda.

June 1, 2005

Quote not available.

Full Review… | August 25, 2006
TV Guide

Quote not available.

November 19, 2004
Reeling Reviews

Quote not available.

March 24, 2004
One Guy's Opinion

Audience Reviews for War and Peace


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.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer


Henry Fonda and Audrey Hepburn are a reason to watch, even if it is CRAZY long and boring for long stints.

Jennifer D
Jennifer D

Super Reviewer

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.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

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