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War and peace by Robert Dornhelm

War and peace (edition 2008)

by Robert Dornhelm (Director)

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Title:War and peace
Authors:Robert Dornhelm
Info:Lumière cop. 2008

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War and Peace [2007 TV mini series] by Robert Dornhelm (Director)


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I obtained this version of War and Peace to compare with the 2016 BBC version, which I had already seen. Although there are some differences, it is also interesting how similar many of the choices made by the respective adaptors are – concentration on personal stories rather than military history and philosophy, and the deletion of surplus characters - for instance Natasha’s older sister and Helen’s other brother. The length is also similar - this one is only about 28 minutes longer than the BBC version. Some of the differences between the two versions seem to be for religious reasons – no mention whatsoever in this version of freemasonry, and the cause of death of a major character is changed. Another difference, and a failing in this production, is the fact that St Petersburg and Moscow are not differentiated – in fact the former, with its capital city status and wholly different society, an important theme in the book – is hardly mentioned.

The production values are on a somewhat grander scale in terms of the houses used and the way the families live. The whole feel is also more ‘European’, with less of a sense that this was Jane Austen with added battles.

The film is in English but for most characters this is dubbed, although that is done quite well, with only a slight distancing effect. On my version of the blu-ray, there were Dutch sub-titles. Although there is no upfront option to turn these off I discovered from an Amazon review of the 1972 series that they can be turned off through the options button on the player remote control.

The clear heart of the film is Clemence Poesy’s Natasha. Although she is really too old for the role she is very convincing in it, particularly in the second half. Unlike most of the European cast, she actually speaks her lines in English rather than their being dubbed, and this adds greatly to the verisimilitude of her performance.
Malcolm McDowell shows more of the sheer nastiness of Prince Bolkonsy than Jim Broadbent did in the BBC version.
Unfortunately, the portrayals of Pierre and Andrei are fairly lack-lustre – stiff and lacking in charisma, and adequate at best. Anatole and Helene are quite well done, with their scheming and malice well illustrated.

There are some odd casting decisions elsewhere – for example, Princess Marya, who is meant to be plain but with an inner spiritual beauty, is played (quite well) by an actress who is by some distance the best looking woman in the cast, making a mockery of remarks about her plainness in the scene when the Kuragins come calling.

The ending in this version is somewhat different from the BBC one – perhaps inevitably because in the book it is quite diffuse and spread around timewise As Tolstoy said, this isn’t a novel. ( )
  ponsonby | Nov 25, 2021 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dornhelm, RobertDirectorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brendan DonnisonContributormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beyer, AlexanderActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blethyn, BrendaActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boni, AlessioActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Elsner, HanneloreActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McDowell, MalcolmActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Poesy, ClemenceActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed

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