Soviet Film Wednesday: War and Peace

Aleksandr Fadeyev in War and Peace (1966)

Between 1966 and1967, 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 the political backdrop. Highly acclaimed, it won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1969, the Grand Prix in the Moscow International Film Festival, and the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.

The film stars Lyudmila Saveleva, Vyacheslav Tikhonov, and Sergei Bondarchuk as the main character, Pierre Bezukhov. Vasiliy Solovyov is a co-writer, along with Sergei Bondarchuk, based on the Leo Tolstoy novel.

War and Peace is 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.