War & Peace (TV Mini-Series 2016) Poster

(2016)

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9/10
Excellent adaptation of Tolstoy (if not readers' misconceptions); ignore the haters
anjing8524 January 2016
The poor reviews that I've seen seem to betray either delusion or a complete misunderstanding of the book. This is an excellent adaptation.

War and Peace is a story of mortals, fallible, corrupt, and yet full of love and hope. Some of the reviewers seem to have gotten in their head that Prince Andrey or Natasha should be like gods and goddesses when Tolstoy could not have intended anything farther from that. Tolstoy meant for us to see how the lives of admirable men and women are yet filled with foolishness. We are meant to see that in the end, the foolishness shouldn't matter.

Others seem to be aghast that there's infidelity, violence, and dishonesty. My God, I can only imagine that these reviewers would be better off watching Barney and Friends. This adaptation captures brilliantly Tolstoy's view of how terrible the course of human interaction can run, and yet there is something magical to life.

As far as the casting goes, I personally thought Sonya was a little too plain, Princess Marya a little too attractive, and Pierre rather too skinny, but these physical quibbles are nitpicky. Each performance seems true to Tolstoy's characterizations, if not the idealizations people have conjured in their minds. In my view, Denisov, though a minor character, is particularly brought to life. The old Prince Bolkonsky also is terrific.

Finally, I am no expert on 19th century Russian aristocratic dress or interior design, but frankly I saw nothing particularly out of place. I would be quite surprised if any of the reviewers who took issue with the costumes or the decorations were far more knowledgeable.
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10/10
Lap it up and enjoy!
janewarren227 January 2016
I have read some of the reviews, and seen previous versions so looked forward to this with both hope and trepidation. I loved Anthony Hopkins in the 70s as Pierre, Sergay Bondachuk in the Russian version and Henry Fonda earlier than that. The character is one of my all time favourites, so it took me a while to take to Paul Dano, but once I had, I found it to be a sensitive performance that had its own merits, and deserves praise. Jim Broadbent, Ade Edmondson and the rest of the cast also make it worthy of your time.

All I can say is enjoy the show, lap up the scenery, wallow in the wonderful characters and costumes, charge in your minds eye to battle and dance at the balls. Visit Old St Petersburg without leaving your armchair and be entertained. The book has too much to ever do justice to, (unless perhaps Peter Jackson took it under his wing).
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9/10
Incredible... so far!
jim28118518 January 2016
Andrew Davies' latest BBC production, War & Peace, is an absolutely splendid TV adaptation of the epic novel.

First things first: do not compare a six hour adaptation to the book. Of course there can not be the same level of detail either in character development or plot. This adaptation should be taken on its own merits.

In my option, the outstanding components of this version are:

1. Paul Dano is well suited as Pierre, particularly in his well- practised range (from meek and mild to a raging temper) as seen in, to name one example, There Will Be Blood.

2. The cinematography is stunning. There are beautiful close-ups of couples dancing, for instance, sprawling vistas and an impressive symmetry to various shots.

3. The score is impressive in its variation and poignancy.

4. The costumes are, as you would expect, incredible.

I'm looking forward to seeing the remaining three episodes!
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10/10
The very best of British TV
barry-1808 February 2016
War& Peace finished on TV last night and in my opinion it was one of the finest programmes I have ever seen on TV!! The producers may of had the American market in mind as the six part series was all but a precis of Tolstoys monumental work. And to be honest I found the ending superior to the morbid epilogue of Tolstoy. Many intellectuals will say that you must not change the structure of the original for an adaptation. But as an analogy I believe Verdi and Boito's adaptation of Othello is better than the Shakespeare original. For me the finest scene was the pathos we saw was Pierre met the peasant Platon Karataev and his dog Sashenka. Here Pierre finally finds out what life is all about ,as he expects to be shot by the French or frozen to death. Paul Dano as Count Pierre Bezukhov underplays his part brilliantly. The whole ensemble cast including Stephen Rea as Prince Vassily Kuragin are terrific.
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10/10
beautifully executed
eapplebaum7 February 2016
I watched the whole series in a few sittings and I found it to be worthy of it's literary masterpiece status. From the acting, the directing, the production design, set design, costume design even makeup each component of a production that brings a great piece of literature to visual life was to done here perfectly. The content evoked deep emotion and I commend everyone on such a lovely job. everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion but I believe sometimes people get so caught up in what and how they think a book should be depicted they forget to become a little objective and just "feel" what is being portrayed. One might not have chosen the cast this production did, but that does not take away the talent that shined. I thoroughly enjoyed that terribly bittersweet and epic story in film version. It contains so much sadness, I honestly don't think I can read it again and this was a wonderful substitute for being able to revisit Tolstoy's War and Peace another time.
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7/10
Worth watching, if only for Paul Dano as Pierre Bezukhov
exisce29 January 2016
Contrary to many opinions here, I found it rather watchable and even enjoyable at times. It felt like a polished, brushed, and westernized version of the original novel, and to my view there was little "Russian" spirit in the series. But I understand that overall it fits well within the BBC format of period movies such as those based on Jane Austin works. Perhaps this was the creators' way to make it more watchable for the modern audience.

Of course, the best thing about this version of W&P is Paul Dano - to me, he's been born for this part. Kind, intelligent, noble, sensitive, soft, fragile, often a restless soul - Dano is all these things. Couldn't even dream of such count Bezukhov. Another strong suit of the movie, as many noted, are the locations and set decorations. Amazing. The costumes, on the other hand, looked at best questionable to me, especially when it came to Natasha's, Sonia's, and princess Bolkonskaya's dresses and styles. I was simply shocked by how the former two were dressed for their first appearance in the movie: seriously, they are young countesses, does the costume designer really believe that Russian nobility had no taste whatsoever in fashion? Unfortunately, apart from Paul Dano, I found most of other casting choices rather disastrous (especially Lily James as Natasha). They all are fine actors, but not suited for their parts, with rare exceptions. I felt that a more thorough casting job should have been done.

Overall, I think that it is still possible to enjoy this new production, especially if you haven't read the book.
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6/10
Please don't rewrite classic literature
LawrenceJoseSinclair19 January 2016
This has the look and slow pace of a typical BBC Masterpiece production, good if you like that, and I usually do, especially the Dickens novels. (check out Martin Chuzzlewit for Paul Schofield's best performance) However, unlike most, in Tolstoy's major work, they've not remained true to the original literature.

Apparently (I've seen only Pt 1 myself), after reading a major media review, they've decided to sex up this story with scenes never in the Tolstoy novel.. in pt 1 a brother got in bed w his sister (both adults) in the morning, something inappropriate that I never remembered from any Tolstoy novels.. later there will be an infidelity they've thrown in as well -- poetic license apparently means RATINGS TRUMP LITERATURE.. I'm surprised they didn't add some gory violence as well, the more explicit, the more teenage viewers will love it.

FOR ME: IF you're going to film a major work of literature, then film THAT work, don't recreate it in your own modern perception filter of what it should have been.. or just write something original (if you can), but don't twist the classics into something more ratings worthy.

After seeing all four parts of this, I will no doubt immensely prefer the 1966 Russian version (even though subtitled), seven hours long with 250,000 Red Army extras in the war scenes, directed by actor Sergey Bondarchuk, shown here on PBS in four parts. A more epic and cinematic film, it had much better pace, more passion, and didn't invent scenes with the audience in mind. The war scenes in this TV production are very 'cheesy' by comparison.
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9/10
An important adaptation
Evanoil4 February 2016
What i like about this adaptation is that it gives the younger audience the chance to know why war and peace is one of the most important stories written so far. It is already known that most of the young population doesn't like to read books especially when its a long ones.I like TV series and films for the fact they can deliver a story similar to a book and some times even better.No place to argue that the screen is taking over now so why don't use it to tell famous and good story .So far i've seen 5 episodes and they are all made very well , directors and actors job is just awesome , i strongly recommend this adaptation to everyone!
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2/10
A Russian's impressions: Did the cast and director even read the book?
ericmarcratner21 February 2016
Submitted on behalf of my Russian immigrant mother-in-law and student of Russian literature, who was very disappointed in this film version of War and Peace.

War and Peace is about three aristocratic families: St. Petersburg's Kuragins are close to the Tsar (Tolstoy uses irony to show his dislike of them); the provincial Rostovs, who are in the process of losing everything; and the Bolkonskys of the old aristocracy, who are favored by the author. The novel is huge and extremely detailed in its descriptions of characters and details of Russian life in the beginning of 19th century.

Leo Tolstoy intended his historical novel to be a majestic and profound one. In this film adaptation, "War" remains faithful to the novel. This is evident in the majestic panorama of the battle at Borodino, or the tragic escape of the broken and hungry French Army as they advance through the snow, and the impossible roads of a vast and empty Russia. However, "Peace" leaves much to be desired.

At the party of the house of the Grand Dame Anna Pavlovna Sherrer, one of the guests, Princess Drubetskaya, asks Prince Kuragin to find her son a safe (comfortable) position in the Tsar's army. In her gratitude she kisses Kuragin's hand. Why? Only servants kissed the hands of their owners, or children kissed the hands of their parents. So why does the princess kiss Kuragin's hand?

The house of Count Rostov in Moscow, shown in the movie several times from its backyard with livestock, such as pigs, chicken, etc., is not an accurate depiction of an aristocrat's home. No aristocrat's home, especially in a city such as Moscow, would have such a backyard. Furthermore, Pierre would never enter Rostov's home, or any home for that matter, through the backyard. That is a servant's entrance.

There is a certain responsibility when working with historical material. One must show respect to the epoch being shown and understand the significance of decorum, protocols of behavior, etc. It is equally important to have actors who correspond to the characters of the novel and the times in which they lived. Tuppence Middleton's portrayal of Helene Kuragina (later Bezukhova) was taken too far from the character of this classic. Tolstoy wrote of Helene's beauty as if she were a perfect Greek statue. Napoleon, seeing her in the theater, praised her beauty. Pierre, standing next to her, wanted to own this beauty. So, the scene of her having sex on the dinner table is so modern and vulgar that I am afraid poor Count Leo Tolstoy turned around many times in his grave, as the Russian proverb says.

Similarly, the character of Anatol Kuragin is also miscast. Callum Turner's portrayal of this character on screen is so far from how Anatol is developed in the novel that it leads to a fundamental misunderstanding of Natasha's behavior in the movie. In the novel, the young, beautiful, and smart Natasha (with her inner understanding of people) sees extreme beauty, bravery, confidence, and arrogance in Kuragin, and she is smitten. It is impossible to accept while watching this movie why Natasha has any passionate desire to run away with Anatol, who is played by a stiff, uncertain, and unhandsome actor.

I could go on in detail about several other characters and, to a point, I will: The stiffness and monotonousness of James Norton does not show all the transformations through the life of Tolstoy's favorite character, Andrei Bolkonsky. There is some luck despite the wrong appearance of the actor who plays Pierre Bezuhov. In the novel, Pierre is a huge bear of a man, sometimes even comical looking. Though he may not look his part, fortunately, the talented Paul Dano tries to play him accordingly to L. Tolstoy's idea of Pierre. And it seems Dano is the only actor here who read the novel and understood his character.

This film did not do justice to Tolsoy's telling of Russian aristocracy in the 19th century; it looks more like the petty bourgeoisie of some unknown country. But, thanks to the movie, I reread the novel with great pleasure. I am afraid, though, I and Paul Dano were the only ones who did.
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8/10
Larger than life .... and spellbinding
mgumsley22 January 2016
After Anna Karenina, I was looking forward to War and Peace being more epic and heart rending. And I have not been disappointed so far. The story line seems a little bit rushed at times, but this was a truly mammoth story and Andrew Davies has a reputation for making fine series out of monumental classics.

So far there is rather more peace than war, but the three central characters, Pierre, Prince Andrei and Natasha seem remarkably well cast and the eternal triangle is forming in a complex way, as expected. The series does not feel terribly Russian but clearly the culture and problems that existed at the time were peculiar to continental Europe. Napoleon was terrorising all of Europe and like many before and after him, thought that Russia would fall under his spell. Its therefore no wonder that characters like Prince Andrei found the military a perfect vehicle for their ambitions and patriotism. But the war was clearly going to decimate many of the leading members of Russian society.

Tolstoy's ability to tell a complex love story is already showing through, and the lesser characters like Prince Vassily, Andrei;s sister Marya and Jim Broadbent's wonderful cameo as Andrei's father make this first rate entertainment.

My only complaint would be that there is not more of this spellbinding story.

Mary Gumsley
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3/10
There is not so much about L. Tolstoy's novel
dvirzonis13 July 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Great miniseries if you are expecting yet another melodramatic soup opera with historical background. Also it may be useful for those who can not manage to read the original novel, just to figure out what it is about. I have studied L. Tolstoy's works for many years (no, I'm not professional, just love this writer), including reading them in original language, and this made me to hate every aspect of this miniseries: the interpretation of the original work, the overall plot, selection of actors, interpretation of characters, landscape scenes, etc. Overl impression: it is to sweet, to incorrect, so roughly understood... Sometimes the movie almost made me cry when beautiful, wise and subtle moments on which Tolstoy spend years creating, writing and re-writing, were spoiled with terribly ridiculous and cheap made scenes. Old prince Nikolay Bolkonsky is primary illustration to my words. For somewhat reason this character was made hysterically comic, when Tolstoy originally put to it all the charm of "old school" Catherine II times general, who is so patriotic and so much loves his children. As a contrast, I liked princess Marya Bolkonskaya, how it was interpreted by absolutely charming Jessie Buckley. One drawback - Jessie is beautiful, and Mary wasn't. Pierre Bezukhov, as played by Paul Dano, was all incorrect, terribly laughable and so much unsuccessful. Yes, Tolstoy draws this character being an eccentric to the high society. But Paul was absolutely unable to show the "beast", the elemental force inside of this native Russian man, hidden by the outer shell of foreign education. I will better be silent about Lily James (why is Natasha blonde?!) and James Norton - they were great as melodramatic couple, but almost nothing from the characters created by L. Tolstoy. It's so sad that so much efforts were just spoiled to make the ordinary, naive and shallow soup opera out of the masterpiece.
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4/10
I wanted to cry, this should have been special.
Sleepin_Dragon7 January 2016
I had seldom looked forward to a drama so much as War and Peace, when I first heard of its release I thought they'd strike gold, the opportunities were huge, sadly the realisation wasn't up to the high expectations I had.

I'll start with the positives, the scenery was superb, the locations, spellbinding, you cannot help but admire. On occasion the filming looked quite good. Gillian Anderson looked jaw dropping, but perhaps more suited to a drama that wasn't War and Peace.

Sadly some of the casting felt wildly wide of the mark, at times I felt like Victoria Wood and Julie Walters were going to jump out with a funny line, it had that historical comedy feel at times. They failed to capture the edge of Tolstoy's novel, it was too light, lacking any sort of Russian edge. Paul Dano was shockingly cast, some actors have a modern appearance and presence, he certainly has, he felt out of place.

I love James Norton, he's a brilliant, hugely capable actor who deserves a lot more then this.

Sadly this missed the mark. It somehow just doesn't feel right, 4/10
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8/10
Exciting, Romantic, And Great Fun To Watch!
Dan1863Sickles23 August 2016
I read Tolstoy's WAR AND PEACE when I was fifteen, and over the years I've read it so many times that the characters are almost like friends and family. And I have to say that on the whole this BBC adaptation was exciting, romantic, and great fun to watch!

Lily James is perfect as Natasha Rostov. She excels at capturing all the moods of a young girl's coming of age, from giddy excitement to tearful despair to frank curiosity about men and sex. The thing about Natasha is that she has to be as natural and exuberant in a fabulous ballgown surrounded by glittering aristocrats as she is in a log cabin making merry among the Russian peasants. That's a lot to take on and Lily James manages it all perfectly. Bravo!

James Norton and Jessie Buckley are both tremendously impressive as the Bolkonsky siblings, Andrey and his sister Marya. Both of them capture how deeply spiritual their characters are, in very different ways. Prince Andrey's search for meaning leads him to a near death experience on the battlefield, but his spiritual longings come across clearly even when is acting the part of a haughty aristocrat. Jessie Buckley's longing for her father's love is beautifully expressed, as is her devotion to Christian love in general. In the book Tolstoy suggests that Princess Marya's goal is simply "to love men as Christ loved men" and that quality is evident in every scene she plays.

I had a lot of trouble accepting Paul Dano as Pierre Bezukhov. So much of Pierre's stature in the novel comes from . . . well, from his stature. He's described over and over as being tall, broad shouldered, clumsy, too big to fit indoors, moving like a big bear. His childlike qualities, his kindness and trusting nature, are balanced out by a gigantic and often menacing physical presence.

Now, Paul Dano gets the childish side of Pierre perfectly, but in the darker moments there's definitely something missing. Even when he's a prisoner of the French he comes across more like Billy Pilgrim in SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE than like the Pierre of the book, who is looked upon by both prisoners and guards as a natural leader. I think there's a tendency today to downplay brute male strength as a positive asset, and Paul Dano's casting is symptomatic of a kind of bizarre politically correct form of censorship. But after all, this is a very multi- faceted character, and Paul D. certainly does capture Pierre's gentleness and kindness.

I don't want this to be a ten page review, so I just want to say that the rest of the very large cast is absolutely extraordinary. While Andrey, Pierre, Natasha and Marya are so complex that no actor could really capture them completely, there are dozens of lesser characters who actually come more to life in this mini-series than they do in the book itself. I just want to mention very briefly the following performances:

Tom Burke as Dolohov and Thomas Arnold as Denisov . . . these two characters are like book-ends, the good guy soldier and the bad guy soldier. And the two Toms nail them perfectly!

Aisling Loftus as Sonya was a true revelation. Reading the book as a kid, I always felt like Tolstoy had it in for Sonya. She's the poor relation who always gets left out in the cold, and Tolstoy does a lot of victim-blaming to rationalize how the system works. But Aisling Loftus gives Sonya a depth, strength, and courage that's actually better than what's in the book!

Greta Scacchi and Adrian Edmondson as Countess Rostov her husband Count Rostov. So much of the magic of WAR AND PEACE comes from the sense of family warmth and happiness in the Rostov home. These two actors really make you understand why Nikolay and his sister Natasha are so much loved and so at home in the world, because they grew up with the most loving parents imaginable! Even their flaws are endearing and totally believable.

Tuppence Middleton and Callum Turner really make an impression as the evil, deadly siblings, Helene and Anatole Kuragin. The two of them are like a perfectly matched pair of dragons, or a couple of deliciously deadly vampires set down among the unsuspecting nobility! But the actors find something sad and almost desperate about both of them, keeping them real and capturing the humanity of Tolstoy's vision even with characters he painted in very broad strokes.

The highest compliment you can pay to this production is that the great characters are represented in (almost) all their complexity, and that there are minor characters who are more real here than they were on the printed page. What a fabulous achievement for the writer, the director, the fabulous cast and the BBC!
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8/10
A very satisfying adaptation!
julia27021 August 2018
I can't tell you how curious I was to see this. Being both a Russian and a crazy fan of Andrew Davies adaptations. And, in a nutshell, I found W&P series heart-warming and absolutely satisfying. Truth be told - even finally opening up the greatness of this famous book to me. Never mind that it was written by my compatriot : )

A lot of students in Russia find the Leo Tolstoy masterpiece too big and too daunting. But it's a literature landmark, and you have to read it at school, at least skim through it : ) And because of that whopping size, it's hard to perceive the story as a whole - you just get too exhausted waiting for this or another thread to pick up again. However, Mr Davies shone his genius on us one more time - he took the essence of the story and presented it to a modern viewer in a digestible and tasty way. A big applause.

So, the choice of scenes for the script I find marvellous. Our own movie filmed by Sergey Bondarchuk is loved by many, especially by the older generation. But I've always thought it had too much emphasis on the war side of the novel. And what do we, women, watch period dramas for? : ) Of course more for the relationship side, to watch multilayered characters unfold. And Andrew masters this to perfection. It flows easily, one could watch all 6 episodes in a row - except that it's not a light and romantic Pride & Prejudice. This is deeper and more dramatic food for thought, which requires a break somewhere along the way.

The cast is generally very-very-very good. Pierre is portrayed brilliantly. I can't think of a better or a more sincere one. I also loved the choice of actress for Mariya Bolkonskaya, watching her I could forget this is a foreign actress. Can't say the same about Natasha Rostova, though. To me this was the worst casting fiasco. I'm sure Lily James tried her best. But I, personally, found her annoying in this part. I would prefer to enjoy her performance in Downton Abbey.

On the negative side are the erotic scenes. They are soooo off here. Can you imagine Mr Wickham and Lidiya having fun on the dining room table? I doubt the British audiences would approve of it in the adaptation of their beloved classic. So I couldn't understand why it was included here. The production isn't Tudors, so that's something which is expected least of all.

The other day I read a review by a Russian film critic, which said, "This wouldn't be a truly British adaptation if it didn't end with a scene of domestic bliss" : ) Ironic as it may sound, I find it a good thing and something to thank the production team for. Why not? I enjoyed the final scenes, even though in the original book some less satisfying points were highlighted by the author.

All in all, I felt the series was filmed with attention to detail (as best one can), respect for the original material (for the most part), as well as the nation's culture and traditions. After the disastrous "Anna Karenina" and "Onegin", which ruined 2 other all-time classics of the Russian literature, "War and Peace" by Andrew Davies was a pleasant treat. I just wish this outstanding man 200 years of a happy and productive life, so the world could enjoy more of his projects.
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2/10
Utterly disappointing
em-chandelier6 January 2016
Unfortunately, the acting is absolutely catastrophic, forced and unbearable to watch. Because of that, the watcher gets nothing of the Russian atmosphere in Tolstoy's novel. Utterly disappointing.

The actors remain on the very surface of their characters which are far from the grace and personality in the novel or in the Russian films, it just remains a very superficial approach.

The theatricality is so cheap one can watch the first episode with difficulty, the acting rather suits Shakespeare than any Russian piece of literature. The actors must have not understood their roles, and definitely the director has a misconception on what this series should have been like. It is unbelievable that BBC could have made such a terrible series taking into account its brilliant series int he past.

It is definitely a failure and a huge disappointment.
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2/10
Englishised soap costume drama version stripped of 90% of the original story
keithfmanaton4 January 2016
As usual the British TV companies have turned a brilliant edgy classic historical novel into Eastenders in period clothes. Just like the rest of the Brontesques disposable instagram generation period programmes. No character depth, hardly any history (apart from nice unexplained sanitised romantic action sequences). Dreadfully saccharine. It is impossible to understand how with such a amazing novel, decent budget and locations they actual managed to produce an empty and bland version. There should have called it 'inspired by', but then they don't have any conscious about carving up brilliant literature. Let the kids and zombie teenagers watch it.
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5/10
What a disappointment.
thiagosblancos11 January 2016
I'm not going to lie, I'd always choose a good period drama should there be one, once I heard the BBC jumped into this I got my hopes up after the almost yet disappointing 2007 adaption but let's be honest, no.

I keep forcing myself to watch, it's... slow, poorly acted, they don't get anything of Russia here, we get no explanation about the events, there is no context, at all. Everything seems forced except for the scenery, as always when it comes to the BBC, it's beautiful and yet nothing, it's lame, 1 episode and half watched and I must say: I don't like it, they could have done more. The cast was good, what happened here? Also, it makes me compare this to the 2007 adaptation for the Rostov's palace is the same they used. Even the furniture, same place, also, I'd like one adaptation to have a brunette Natasha for she was one, I'll keep watching for I promised myself to give it a chance until it ends but I'd not advice anyone to do as well.
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2/10
Shallow in every way and casting is a joke
like_an_orange13 January 2016
Casting ruined everything. Blonde saccharine Natasha who looks like a starlet/model when she's supposed to be dark-haired, dark-eyed awkward girl, flat-chested, painfully innocent, comely, but not visually stunning. She's the opposite of what she's supposed to be. BTW, this is second modern TV version of W&P with blonde Natasha. WHY, TELL ME? Why is it so hard to find a dark haired actress for this role? There is symbolism in Natasha having dark hair. It's kinda important, you know. Look at Lyudmila Saveleva, look at Audrey Hepburn. They both look like Tolstoy's Natasha. Why cast someone who looks nothing like them? Can't you experiment with other things? Dano looks nothing like Pierre. Bolkonsky is a beautiful elegant aristocrat with exquisite features, so why Norton with his massive nose and fat lips? He's attractive by modern standards, I guess, but does he have noble appearance? No. He looks like an action hero, not a fine- boned XIX century nobleman, sorry.

Soviet War & Peace from the 1960's is an example of PERFECT casting. Every character looks the way they look in the book. Natasha is an epitome of Natasha. Pierre is an epitome of Pierre. Noble Bolkonsky etc. I DON'T expect a modern British TV version of W&P to go anywhere near the great Russian epic in terms of quality, depth, closeness to the book, action, budget, acting, atmosphere (it's a TV show hurriedly made for casual watching for god's sake)... but you could have at least found actors who look a bit like W&P characters.

To make them read the novel before acting like it's characters wouldn't be redundant either.

War and Peace is a deep, tragic, epic novel. And this show is shallow, light and sugary-sweet. And still I can focus only on casting, because it's hilarious and sad at the same time. Why can't they find something less demanding than War and Peace to make shows like that? There are a lot of books about people riding horses and wearing pretty dresses, but without philosophy, drama and soul-searching of W&P.
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3/10
Casting catastrophe....
s32761694 January 2016
I remember even as a youngster enjoying the mesmerizing 1970's mini series, that brought to life Tolstoy's novel, War and Peace. It wasn't just the sets that made this production a success. It was the high caliber of acting.

Its a shame then that the contemporary rein-visioning of this work is such a casting catastrophe. I wont single out specific actors but, suffice to say, there are more than a few mismatches, in terms of casting. Its not down necessarily to a lack of talent. Rather, its casting people who simply don't have the acting background that would make them suitable for a role in a production of this kind.

The result is a series that, from the opening scenes, feels awkward and clumsy. The sets are perfect but the performances are simply not that convincing and, in a few cases, feel forced. Many of the characters I know and love, from reading the book, feel like shallow, shadowy, caricatures.

My advice, first read the book, then look for the 1970's mini series. As to this production, well its up to you but I'm going to give it a pass. Three out of ten from me.
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3/10
don't waste your time...
nganopol26 January 2016
Anybody watched Natasha's dance while at her uncle's house on Christmas? That was it. Did the producer save money by NOT hiring a professional to stage the 1 minute dance and teach that …'actress' the difference between Spanish dance and Russian dance?! Or couldn't somebody google the difference between gypsy music and folk Russian music?! I don't want another 1966 W&P, but I want something that would remind me of a novel. I truly believed that at least the European air of Tolstoy's novel would bring the best in BBC adaptation – they film Jane Austin so beautifully. So why did they fail? It's the same historical period, is it not? Let's not discuss how shallow the characters appear, but PLEASE teach Lily James a simple curtsy and ask James Norton not to bow like a footman! The stars are for scenery…
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4/10
War and Peace meets "East Enders"
p-seed-889-1884694 September 2016
So, another version of War and Peace, something we all needed about as much as a new recording of Beethoven's Fifth. War and Peace seems to be to literature what the Mona Lisa is to art – they are seen as the pinnacles of their form but no-one can tell you why. It is all a bit of a mystery. In the case of movie versions of W+P the book seems to have become largely irrelevant and each new version is principally an opportunity to outdo its predecessor for the most stunning camera-work, the most sumptuous ballroom scene, the most extravagant palaces, the war scene with the most extras, the most breathtaking scene. This is not necessarily a criticism but rather the nature of the beast, for while some may deem W+P a "great piece of literature" it is not without its flaws, some of them bigger than Texas. There are really two "stories" in W+P. The main story, and in my opinion the only reason W+P could possibly be regarded as great literature, is the story of Russia, its history and culture, in particularly turbulent times. The chief character in W+P is Russia, and the only film that could do this story justice would be a documentary. The "other" story, the one that deals with the petty tribulations of Natasha, Pierre, Andrei et al, are largely a backdrop that allows Tolstoy to tell this story. Regrettably it is only this secondary story that can be translated into a movie for general entertainment. Therein lies the problem, for this secondary story is neither especially interesting nor populated by great "characters". Natasha must surely be the most thinly sketched character in the history of literature, and what is sketched is uninteresting and annoying. Pierre's is a totally unbelievable character and Andrei is just boring. The "story" is largely a bunch of random fragments strung together, the great majority of which add nothing to progressing the story and could easily have been left out. Pierre drinking on the window sill. The wolfhunt. The party at Natasha's uncle's house. Any scene involving Boris. Any scene involving Boris's mother. The business about old Count Bezuhov's will. Count Bezuhov's entire death scene, indeed Count Bezuhkov's entire existence. Napoleon's famous "that is a great death" scene. I could go on, and on...

This version does not get off to a good start. In its first 15 minutes a camera cruises breathlessly around a party "introducing" us to various people, whose names, identities and relevance are a mystery to the viewer. It could have been an opportunity to ease the average viewer into what is probably the world's most complex novel, but within 15 minutes we have reduced our viewing audience to those that already know the story by heart. Eventually we meet Natasha. This version elects not to portray her as a bubble headed, flighty adolescent, and this at least is a blessed relief. Lily James was a delight in Downton Abbey but here she does not seem to be bringing her "A game". Her character is just not well acted – she has so many facial movements it seems she has been afflicted with St Vitus Dance, and to make matters worse she is dressed in what appears to be a floral nightie recently bought on special at Walmarts. There is not a lot you can do with the "story" of W+P, all you can really do is make a list of all the set pieces and then select which ones you want to include – the choice does not matter much for as I have commented most of them are irrelevant. This time, mercifully, the producers omitted the dreaded drinking on the windowsill scene, for which we may all be eternally grateful. With any W+P we can take as a given that the camera-work will be spectacular, the war scenes will be magnificent, the palaces and estates bigger than Ben Hur. All that really distinguishes one W+P from another is the casting, so how does this version fair? Lily James is always easy on the eye but as already commented, her acting is simplistic and inconsistent. Her accent is at times cockney and her lines often rushed. The impression she gives is not of a Princess but the girl behind the counter at the dairy. She often comes across as surly and pouty, not attractive traits for a Princess. But the most heinous casting mistake is that of Sonja – her cockney accent is excruciating and she would have been better cast as Eliza Dolittle. Even their maid has a cockney accent! Pierre is very well acted, although no actor can make the ridiculousness of his written character entirely credible. It is unfortunate that he is made up as the dead spit of John Denver - it is difficult to take him seriously when any moment you expect him to take out his guitar and burst into "Rocky Mountain High". Andrei and Anatole are as OK as Tolstoy's story could allow them to be, although they did not look like the chick magnets they are supposed to be to me. By far the best cast were Dolokov who had genuine "hunk power" and dare I say it, an actual personality, and Boris. Marya was also very good, although far too pretty to make the nasty comments made of her credible. She has to be the far and away the best actress on the set. There is very little feeling of Russia and given this is the whole point of the book this is a major flaw. Were we not shown the titles of "Moscow" and "St Petersburg", given the predominant accents, we could be forgiven for thinking it was set in the East end of London.

In summary, a mixed bag limited by the source material, like all the others. Can't wait until the next version.
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1/10
Twitterized version of a monumental classic
siwamoto819 January 2016
This is a Twitterized version of War and Peace. The plight of a group of Russian aristocrats during the Napoleonic invasion of their country, showing the before and after of a war should have been at least a lesson in history.

The casting is dismal: this is a 19th century drama featuring Russian aristocrats, not small town hicks. The young cast is out of place in looks and totally out of their depth in the acting, the script is poor (shame on you, Andrew Davies!). Acting by the young principals, is painful to watch, especially Dano is like watching a high school Xmas play. I am afraid their generation does not read any of these classics so they don't understand the parts they are playing.

Serious actors like Stephen Rea and Jim Broadbent are totally wasted. After watching some of this, I took out the DVD set of the version made in 1966 by Sergey Bondarchuk and watched it again in its entirety. What a difference, its like a totally different thing. Readers are strongly advised to see this version of War and Peace, because what A&E is presenting is a disaster.

No amount of beautiful locations and camera-work can cover the lack of talent in writing, acting and directing.
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1/10
Absolute disgrace and butchery of literary classic.
Man-Behind-The-Pen18 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This is another missed opportunity.

What the hell are those directors thinking, when making period dramas and especially adapting amazing literary master-peaces for the screen.

It is obvious, that they do not read the books that are the subject of those adaptations and if they do, they are to stupid to comprehend the depths of the literature they are reading.

Casting was simply WTF, because all of those young actors are completely out of depth. It does not mean that they are bad actors, they simply are not suited for these roles. The script is boring and does not do justice in any shape or form tho the books "War and Peace".

All in all, the way I watched this mini series was simply fast forwarding to the battle scenes, which were just as badly done. It is to bad, that BBC which is way WAY better in producing period dramas that that crazy Hollywood, which I cannot stand in all honesty as anything "period" that comes from US is simply a soft pornographic series and has nothing to do with the period it is set in.

I recommend you miss this peace of cow dung, and watch the old 1070's version. This is peace of horse dung.
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1/10
Very loose take on the original. Horrible cast. A disappointment
alexczx18 January 2016
I would suggest that if you are truly interested in watching a cinematic version of War and Peace, you find the 1967 4-hour (2-DVD) Russian version that won an Oscar and Golden Globe for best foreign film and several other big awards. And if you commit yourself to watching this great movie, please pay attention to the physical appearance of the cast, which matches the book perfectly. Someone in the production of this miniseries (casting director? director? producer?) forgot to read Tolstoy's book, or at least maybe the first 100 pages of it where the characters' appearance is described. All the main characters are horribly miscast. I love Lily James but she's no Natasha, even if they'd let her be a brunette (her natural color, and an important part of Natasha's look). A beefy 6'1" hunk like James Norton is nowhere near the part of refined upper-class aristocrat like Andrei Bolkonsky. And Paul Dano? Our very first encounter with Pierre in the book is a party where he is dared to take on a bear -- and does. Paul Dano's adolescent take on this role is laughable. The entire cast is cringe-worthy. Give me a break!
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9/10
The best interpretation of War and Peace
turkyilmazaliosman22 December 2018
This is the best "War and Peace" interpretation on screen that I have seen. The cast is powerful, staging is careful, costumes and locations are delicately studied. The series is not unnecessarily long as previous BBC productions. I enjoyed it a lot.
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