War and Peace

1956

War and Peace

Critics Consensus

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43%

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Total Count: 7

63%

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User Ratings: 7,764
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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.

Cast

Audrey Hepburn
as Natasha, Natasha Rostov
Henry Fonda
as Pierre, Piotr Biezuchow
Mel Ferrer
as Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, Ksi??? Andriej Bo?ko?ski
Vittorio Gassman
as Anatole, Anatol
John Mills
as Platon Karatayev
Herbert Lom
as Napoleon
Oscar Homolka
as Gen. Mikhail Kutuzov
Anita Ekberg
as Helene Kuragin
Barry Jones
as Count Ilya Rostov
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
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
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
Carlo Dale
as Young French Officer
Paul Davis
as Young French Officer
Oskar Homolka
as Gen. Kutuzov
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Critic Reviews for War and Peace

All Critics (7) | Top Critics (1) | Fresh (3) | Rotten (4)

Audience Reviews for War and Peace

  • 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.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 05, 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.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Jun 05, 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
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Feb 29, 2012
    Henry Fonda and Audrey Hepburn are a reason to watch, even if it is CRAZY long and boring for long stints.
    Jennifer D Super Reviewer

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