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Voyna i mir (War and Peace)

Posted by martinteller on February 19, 2010

As I popped this in, I was thinking “What the hell am I doing?  I’ve got a billion other movies to watch.  I don’t have the patience now for a 7-hour one.  I should just save this for some other time.”  Within about 20 minutes, I was hooked.  I’ve never read the novel, but of course I’m aware of its status as a massive work of literature.  A big book needs a big movie, and this is the epic to end all epics.  HUGE crowds of people, opulent sets, magnificently choreographed dances, big sweeping camera moves (some of the helicopter and crane shots have to be seen to be believed) and heaps of drama.  There’s a lot of rubles on display here, but that’s not all that makes this impressive.  Bondarchuk does a terrific job with just about every aspect of it, keeping it compelling for most of the entire length of the picture.  It’s poetic and moving and beautiful and horrifying and… well, just damn impressive.  Some of the best, most intricate battle scenes I’ve ever witnessed.  Glorious music.  The acting is all first-rate, including Bondarchuk himself in one of the central roles.  Despite the epic sweep and gigantic cast, the story stays focused primarily on three characters, which keeps things from ever getting too confusing.  The dialogue and narration is sometimes a bit too on-the-nose, but when you’re dealing with such large themes, sometimes a little shorthand is necessary.  It’s a very small nitpick for a movie that’s so engaging, and so frequently astonishing.  Rating: 10


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