Of the many stage, screen, and television adaptations of Leo Tolstoy's mammoth novel War and Peace, this multi-episode British TV version is widely regarded as one of the most thorough and entertaining. The grim days of Napoleonic wars and the "Little Corporal's" ill-fated invasion of Russia were shown through the eyes of a large, interwoven group of protagonists, including the sensitive intellectual Pierre (played by a young Anthony Hopkins, who won the BAFTA Best Actor award) and the ethereally lovely Natasha (Morag Hood). Of the supporting cast, Alan Dobie as Prince Bolkonsky and David Swift as Napoleon were standouts. The 20 45-minute episodes of War and Peace first aired in the U.K. from September 28, 1972 through February 8, 1973. The series was syndicated in the U.S. courtesy of PBS beginning November 20, 1973. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
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I tried very hard to read Tolstoy's novel when I was in college, but just didn't have time to get all the characters' names straightened out to know which character was which and understand the relationships. The intrigue woven into this Russian novel is fascinating and the PBS series has been a wonderful experience for me to bring it alive. Anthony Hopkins is such an accomplished actor and it was fascinating to see him as a younger actor. I will attempt reading this classic since I am retired and have more time.
I have had the experience of viewing, scene by scene, this version of W and; P, and the Russian version issued 5 years earlier. The English version is nearly twice as long, so that characters are better developed and subplots are enlarged. However, the Russian version has a certain "Russianness" that the English version does not capture, and this is not only related to the scenes of onion topped domes and peasants in folk dress. The camera is much more inventive. In the battle scenes, particularly,the hand-held camera gets in close to the actors and moves around with them, making you feel you are really there. The filming of the burning of Moscow is far more terrifying. The Russian version was filmed over 5 years, so that you actually see the Rostov children grow up. When one first sees Natasha, she is an actual child, not an actress trying to be one. By the end of the movie she has matured into a young woman.