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  • Writer's pictureHunter Friesen

"War and Peace" Throwback Review

Yeah, that's right. I did it.

Gaze upon that runtime, all glorious seven hours!

They said it was impossible, that no person could watch this monstrosity in one sitting.

Well, I'll admit that I did take a dinner break at the midpoint. But I did watch the whole thing in one day!

From here on, no film can be too long in my eyes. Three-hour epics are now quaint in comparison. Digital effects are pure blasphemy.

What's that James Cameron? You say you built an entire world in your computer? That's cute. Meanwhile, Sergey Bondarchuk commanded a literal army of 12,000 extras and flew a camera across an entire battlefield.

It's utterly astounding how well directed War and Peace is. Absolutely zero special effects used to create sequences of pure brilliance. No expenses is sparred, as the Russian Empire is presented at its absolute peak.

No film can ever top this in terms of scope and scale. The Battle of Borodino literally takes up a quarter of the runtime as Bondarchuk supplies history lovers with everything they could ever want.

100,000 Russians clash against Napoleon's conquering army. Long takes that seemingly go on forever as the camera observes countless men fighting to their last breath. Thinking about the production logistics of this sequence gives me a headache.

War may be a central part of the story, but the other half belongs to peace, specifically love. These smaller-scale scenes pale in comparison to the bloodshed, as the acting is continually caught in the overacting of the era.

Bondarchuk's genius as a director is hampered by his weakness as a writer and actor, as his Pierre is an absolute bore for 6/7 of the film. An extensive knowledge of Tolstoy's novel is required beforehand, as there are too many supporting characters that muddy the narrative.

During it's epically scaled sequences, War and Peace is unparalleled to any film that has ever, and will ever, be released. If you can't commit to the whole seven hours, at least watch the first and third chapters, as those contain the best bits.

And if you can stomach this, please do it. It's a unique experience that can never be replicated again.


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