War and Peace

War and Peace

3.3 7
Director: King Vidor

Cast: Audrey Hepburn, Henry Fonda, Mel Ferrer


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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…  See more details below


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.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mike Cummings
In spite of its three-hour length, this 1956 King Vidor film presents only a surface perusal of the panoramic, character-packed novel on which it is based, Russian writer Leo Tolstoy's two-inch-thick tome War and Peace. Nevertheless, the movie gives viewers just enough of the novel to allow them to browse Russian drawing rooms and battlefields and to eavesdrop on the lives and longings of people affected by the brutal war and social upheaval of 1805-1815. The acting is sometimes very good and sometimes very bad, while the cinematography and historical ambience are outstanding. The camera follows Pierre Bezuhov (Henry Fonda) as he wanders through a degenerate youth, a flawed marriage, and the turbulence of war, finally arriving at his true self: an idealist bent on helping others. Along the way, a dashing, sophisticated soldier, Prince Andrey Bolkonsky (Mel Ferrer) outcharms Bezuhoy for the hand of lovely Natasha Rostov (Audrey Hepburn). Fonda is good, Ferrer is mediocre, and Hepburn is excellent; however, modern audiences -- spoiled by the linguistic derring-do of such actors as Meryl Streep, Bob Hoskins, and Gwyneth Paltrow -- may balk at the hodgepodge of non-Russian accents. As the Russian characters go about their lives, the ominous advance of Napoleon and his army is ever on their minds. Herbert Lom (widely remembered as Peter Sellers' boss in the Pink Panther films) portrays the French despot with as much verve and panache as any actor who ever stepped into the role. On the other hand, buxom Swede Anita Ekberg is simply awful as Pierre Bezuhov's wife. Apparently, her presence in the film was a concession to prurience and box-office draw. All in all, though, Vidor's War and Peace is a decent production -- a keyhole that affords a glimpse into a gigantic novel and a world in turmoil.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Paramount Catalog
Region Code:
[Wide Screen, Color]
[monaural, Dolby Digital Stereo]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Closed-Caption; Theatrical Trailer-Behind The Scenes War And Peace; Re-Release Trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Audrey Hepburn Natasha
Henry Fonda Pierre
Mel Ferrer Prince Andrei Bolkonsky
Vittorio Gassman Anatole
Anita Ekberg Helene
Oscar Homolka Gen. Mikhail Kutuzov
Herbert Lom Napoleon
John Mills Platon
Helmut Dantine Dolokhov
Milly Vitale Lise
Barry Jones Count Ilya Rostov
Wilfred Lawson Prince Nicholas Bolkonsky
Jeremy Brett Nicholas Rostov
Sean Barrett Petya Rostov
Anna Maria Ferrero Mary Bolkonskv
Tullio Carminatti Kuragin
Patrick Crean Denisov
Gertrude Flynn Peronskaya
Marisa Allasio Matriosa
Cesare Barbetti Young Boy
Vincent Barbi Balaga
Michael Billingsley Russian Soldier
Georges Brehat French Officer at Execution
Mai Britt Actor
Guido Celano Napoleon's Officer
Geoffrey Copleston Actor
David Crowley Actor
Bob Cunningham Pierre's Second at Duel
Carlo Dale Actor
Paul Davis Young French Officer
Mino Doro Russian General
John Douglas Actor
Andre Eszterhazy Dolokhov's Second
Andrea Fantasia Constand
Charles Fawcett Russian Artillery Captain
Angelo Galassi Actor
John Horne Old Gentleman Dancing with Natasha
Stephen Lang Tichon
Marianna Leibl Servant at Bolkonsky's
Alberto Carlo Lolli Rostov's Major-Domo
Clelia Matania Mlle. Georges
Richard McNamara De Beausset
Enrico Olivieri French Drummer
Piero Palermini Russian Artillery Lieutenant
Mimmo Palmara Actor
Teresa Pellati Masa
Jerry Riggio Actor
Alfredo Rizzo Soldiers During the Rostovs' Exile
Giacomo Rossi-Stuart Young Cossack
Umberto Sacripante Old Man
Lea Seidl Countess Rostov
John Stacey Actor
Robert Stephens Officers Talking with Natasha During Exile
Gilberto Tofano Young Dying Soldier
Michael Tor Pope
Gualtiero Tumiati Pierre's Father
Joop van Hulzen Russian Officer
Maria Zanoli Mayra

Technical Credits
King Vidor Director,Screenwriter
Franz Bachelin Art Director
Bridget Boland Screenwriter
Mario Camerini Screenwriter
Jack Cardiff Cinematographer
Leo Cattozzo Editor
Mario Chiari Art Director
Ennio de Concini Screenwriter
Dino de Laurentiis Producer
Maria de Matteis Costumes/Costume Designer
Franco Ferrara Musical Direction/Supervision
Piero Gherardi Set Decoration/Design
Stuart Gilmore Editor
Guidarino Guidi Asst. Director
Ivo Perilli Screenwriter
Gianni Polidori Art Director
Nino Rota Score Composer
Irwin Shaw Screenwriter
Leo Tolstoy Source Author
Aldo Tonti Cinematographer
Robert Westerby Screenwriter

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- War and Peace
1. Chapter 1 [:14]
2. Chapter 2 [2:13]
3. Chapter 3 [5:58]
4. Chapter 4 [1:14]
5. Chapter 5 [4:34]
6. Chapter 6 [:50]
7. Chapter 7 [8:28]
8. Chapter 8 [:15]
9. Chapter 9 [6:57]
10. Chapter 10 [:59]
11. Chapter 11 [4:21]
12. Chapter 12 [2:37]
13. Chapter 13 [3:17]
14. Chapter 14 [4:01]
15. Chapter 15 [3:17]
16. Chapter 16 [3:05]
17. Chapter 17 [1:39]
18. Chapter 18 [7:49]
19. Chapter 19 [:44]
20. Chapter 20 [6:43]
21. Chapter 21 [7:38]
22. Chapter 22 [:47]
23. Chapter 23 [7:02]
24. Chapter 24 [2:25]
25. Chapter 25 [4:30]
26. Chapter 26 [4:22]
27. Chapter 27 [4:49]
28. Chapter 28 [1:56]
29. Chapter 29 [1:47]
30. Chapter 30 [7:38]
31. Chapter 31 [2:44]
32. Chapter 32 [5:21]
33. Chapter 33 [3:31]
34. Chapter 34 [3:55]
35. Chapter 35 [6:02]
36. Chapter 36 [:34]
37. Chapter 37 [5:40]
38. Chapter 38 [1:52]
39. Chapter 39 [7:56]
40. Chapter 40 [:59]
41. Chapter 41 [6:44]
42. Chapter 42 [1:13]
43. Chapter 43 [5:47]
44. Chapter 44 [2:31]
45. Chapter 45 [5:29]
46. Chapter 46 [2:22]
47. Chapter 47 [5:56]
48. Chapter 48 [7:37]
49. Chapter 49 [4:04]
50. Chapter 50 [4:24]
51. Chapter 51 [5:51]
52. Chapter 52 [2:13]
53. Chapter 53 [2:42]

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Customer Reviews

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War and Peace 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fans of both the novel and the undeniably great Russian film by Bonderchuk are very quick to put this version down. Being a fan of both of those myself, I cannot deny that this comes in second or third place. HOWEVER - if you are interested in finding out what the "infamous" War and Peace is all about and don't feel like reading 1200 pages of translated 19th century prose, or watching the 7 hour Russian film (and deal with bad dubbing, three languages, and a hefty price tag), then this version is for you. Granted, it lacks the authentic location shoots, costuming, and battles with 10,000+ extras, but it does manage to contain most of the main characters and follow most of the main plot lines. And Audrey Hepburn really is a magnificent Natasha. If you really want to experience War and Peace, read the novel and then watch the Russian version (the 5 DVD set from Rusico, NOT the butchered 3-disc version from Kultur) in the original Russian language (and skip the subtitles). But if that is too much to ask, check this version out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Audrey Hepburn is my favorite actress of all time. And War and Peace is one of my favorite movies of all time. The entire cast dose a swell job at bringing the tragic story to life, and you just can't beat Hepburn, Fonda, and Ferrer acting out a great Tolstoy classic!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was severely disappointed with this movie after reading the book. Princess Mary (or Maria depending on the translation) is supposed to be plain looking but is very attractive in the movie. The battle scenes are very brief and choppy, and the highlighted scenes, like the Battle of Austerlitz and Prince Bolkonsky rallying the the troops with the flag, look like they were thrown togther hastily. Very disappointing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
How could one of the greatest novels ever written have been done with a worse cast and more awful acting. Audrey is of course gorgeous, but Henry Fonda is too old by 1 - 2 decades and Mel Ferrer is typically stiff. The only believable character per the book is Kutuzov. No wonder the film died.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago