Soviet Film Wednesday: War and Peace

Aleksandr Fadeyev in War and Peace (1966)

In 1966-1967, writer and director Sergei Bondarchuk’s War and Peace (Война и мир) was released in four parts; a seven-hour-plus long adaptation of Tolstoy’s epic novel depicting the lives of several aristocratic families during the time of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia.

The stunningly beautiful film skillfully portrays personal stories amidst a political backdrop, and won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1969. The film stars Lyudmila Saveleva, Vyacheslav Tikhonov, and Sergei Bondarchuk as the main character Pierre Bezukhov. It is also the most expensive Soviet film ever made, costing 8.29 million Soviet rubles, which equates to approximately $70 million in today’s terms.

The sweeping masterpiece has been digitally restored by Mosfilm Cinema Concern, and is currently available on Criterion.

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