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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rewarding film, if not the best adaptation of W&P
Beautiful to watch, and covering the main plot points of the book, this is not a bad preparation before watching the epic 1968 Bondarchuk version. Some nice acting and of course music freely nicked from Brahms!
Published 21 months ago by Amazon Customer

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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hepburn is always wonderful
I guess I am a purist when it comes to the classics. I like the movie script to follow the original work which I am sorry to say this movie does not. From the first scene in the movie, it is almost like they took extracts from all of the book's events and rearranged the entire timeline. Some of the scenes never happened, others did not happen as they were portrayed,...
Published on 12 Nov. 2007 by Bentley


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rewarding film, if not the best adaptation of W&P, 12 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: War and Peace [1956] (DVD)
Beautiful to watch, and covering the main plot points of the book, this is not a bad preparation before watching the epic 1968 Bondarchuk version. Some nice acting and of course music freely nicked from Brahms!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Although far better than previous DVD releases of Vidor's moderately celebrated version ..., 20 Feb. 2015
By 
Adrian Drew (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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Although far better than previous DVD releases of Vidor's moderately celebrated version of Tolstoy's masterpiece, this transfer from an unrestored and somewhat damaged VistaVision source is far from perfect. The colour is often rather muddy, the definition occasionally blurry and fine detail almost non existent. Add to this an audio track that was never very good in the first instance, and always sounded unnatural and post recorded, and you will gather that you are not in for a stunning audio or visual experience if you purchase this disc. That said, at almost three and a half hours the film does not outstay its welcome and is charming and quite engaging and quite moving in equal measures with a host of memorable performances from some excellent character actors. As this is probably the best version that will be available, until the unlikely event the studios undertake a full renovation, I certainly recommend its purchase for those who fear the epic duration of its far superior Russian produced counterpart.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Classic, 1 Jan. 2010
By 
J. M. Harman - See all my reviews
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This review is from: War and Peace [1956] (DVD)
This film is, without doubt, the finest ever directed by King Vidor. The atmosphere of the period is captured wonderfully and one can almost believe oneself living through the events portrayed on the screen. In particular, the scenes between Pierre (Henry Fonda) and peasant (John Mills) during the Retreat From Moscow strike a note of true compassion.

One also observes the character transformation undergone by Natasha (Audrey Hepburn) from a rather gauche young girl, yielding to temptation into an illicit love affair with Prince Anatol (Vittorio Gassman) finishing as a mature young lady able to take charge when disaster strikes the household. This film is so well constructed, that one can easily believe in the existence of the Rostov family; the actors play their roles with such conviction. The performances of Mel Ferrer and Wilfred Lawson are also worthy of note. The battle scenes, too, are handled well. With regard to the DVD, it must be said that the synchronisation leaves something to be desired. Apart from that, an excellent production.

John Harman
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Feel the Width, not the Length..., 11 July 2012
By 
Tim Kidner "Hucklebrook Hound" (Salisbury, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: War and Peace [1956] (DVD)
I refer to the oft running joke about the time it (apparently) takes to read the full Tolstoy novel. The width refers to the slight flabbiness of its storytelling and obvious cuts and constricts to allow for its stellar Anglo/American cast.

My DVD was a Korean release, which you need to go into the menu to turn off their subtitles and set it to 'none'. It does seem strange that such a famous and widely respected and loved epic, in probably its most popular 'Hollywood' format just doesn't seem to be more widely available.

I'm also probably the only person to have seen, in its five disc entirety, the 1967 Russian Oscar Winner, directed by Sergei Bondarchuk before this far more accessible one. I'm no literary expert but this one here is easier to follow (the subtitles on the Russian one are impossible at times and some of the dialogue is in French but not subtitled!) and the narrative jumps about confusingly.

It's always great to see our favourite actors - when we are not sure or enjoying the story less, we can savour and immerse ourselves in their familiarity and in this case, Audrey Hepburn and Henry Fonda are two of mine and many others' all-time favourites.

Whilst the legendary Jack Cardiff takes the reigns with the cameras here and his Technicolor is deep, sumptuous and rich, for once, even he is vastly overshadowed by the Russian epic, which has three chief cinematographers! and has some of the most beautiful, majestic and uplifting images ever recorded, including the legendary hiring of the actual Red Army as extras for the awe-inspiring battle scenes.

Back to this King Vidor adaptation - for my fairly ignorant eyes and palate, it is more measured and the dialogue less 'free', almost monosyllabic and starchy. The costumes are regal and splendid of course and the period detail of a impeccable standard one would expect.

All in all, I find much of this War and Peace a bit flat-footed and without the spirit of the 8 hour epic. The mixture of accents don't always help either but the story does get told, clearly and concisely, which is the main thing, I suppose. In many ways, five stars would seem fitting, in others three, whilst literary purists might not even get to muster two, so my four seems fair.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good film, 9 Aug. 2002
As with all film adaptations they do tend to pale in comparison to their book conterparts and this is exactly what happens with King Vidors version of war and peace. A brave adaptation in that it does address the major points of the novel, however you can't help but think that the film was squeezed into the three hour timeslot. Saying that the movie is probably the closest one film could ever come to achieving the brilliance of Tolstoy. In short a good film but one that holds nothing to the book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Where are the Blu-ray reviews?, 23 July 2014
I saw this film in the 1950s and years later bought it on VHS. I subsequently copied it on to DVD. The quality is now preserved in its original VHS state, which is not great but is at least watchable. The Blu-ray version has been out for some time but so far nobody has reviewed it. Is there anybody out there who has bought it and would like to comment on its quality? [see the comments below]. Even at well over three hours long, the film is a pale shadow of Tolstoy's tale but it is still good entertainment. Only the VHS quality is letting it down for me.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hepburn is always wonderful, 12 Nov. 2007
By 
Bentley (USA and England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: War & Peace (1956) (Ws Sub) [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
I guess I am a purist when it comes to the classics. I like the movie script to follow the original work which I am sorry to say this movie does not. From the first scene in the movie, it is almost like they took extracts from all of the book's events and rearranged the entire timeline. Some of the scenes never happened, others did not happen as they were portrayed, there are many lines in the movie which never were uttered by any of Tolstoy's characters and to me the choices of actors for some of the roles were very misguided. Who in their right mind would choose Henry Fonda as Pierre. Pierre was described all through Tolstoy's epic as being fat, slovenly, very large, etc., wide of girth. Though Henry Fonda was a very fine actor, they seemed to have missed their mark. There were many such misses.

Of course, the scenery and the action shots are also very dated. But if the script had followed Tolstoy's work, I would have been happy; but it did not.

The only saving grace was of course Audrey Hepburn who to me was a perfect Natasha. I wish that they had had a younger actress playing the younger Natasha who plays with dolls but they only used Miss Hepburn for the entire sequence of events.

Ms. Hepburn was wonderful in this role, beautiful and so full of life. I think that she and Mel Ferrer were the two (2) saving graces of this film.

I think as a true depiction and adaptation of Tolstoy's masterpiece this movie production failed. But as an entertaining and whimsical portrayal of extracts of this fine book and as pure entertainment with some very fine actors even if it was sadly a broad detour from the book itself, I would give it three stars for the efforts of Ferrer and Hepburn alone.

Be forewarned if you are counting on an accurate depiction of the book.

Bentley/2007
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good Buy, 24 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: War and Peace [1956] (DVD)
I enjoyed war and peace very much I thought it was going to be boring but it wasn't It was very interesting
The packaging was good and it arrived when I was told it would be.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pleased to get hold of this at last, 31 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: War and Peace [1956] (DVD)
I've been wanting to rent this for some time but haven't been able to get hold of it. In the end I decided to buy a copy and I'm pleased I did. An excellent film!
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4.0 out of 5 stars ... time frame of a film but it is a good start!, 20 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: War and Peace [1956] (DVD)
It is impossible to do full justice to such a vast story in the standard time frame of a film but it is a good start!
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