War & Peace: An Epic of Soviet Cinema


It’s hard to do cin­e­mat­ic jus­tice to any good nov­el, let alone the great­est of Rus­si­a’s many great nov­els, Leo Tol­stoy’s War & Peace. But Sovi­et direc­tor Sergei Bon­darchuk some­how man­aged to pull it off. Review­ing Bon­darchuk’s film back in 1969, a young Roger Ebert wrote:

“War and Peace” is the defin­i­tive epic of all time. It is hard to imag­ine that cir­cum­stances will ever again com­bine to make a more spec­tac­u­lar, expen­sive, and — yes — splen­did movie. Per­haps that’s just as well; epics seem to be going out of favor, replaced instead by small­er, more per­son­al films. Per­haps this great­est of the epics will be one of the last, bring­ing the epic form to its ulti­mate state­ment and at the same time sup­ply­ing the epi­taph.

No cor­ners were cut, and no expens­es spared, in mak­ing the film. Indeed, the film (avail­able on DVD here) was made “at a cost of $100,000,000, with a cast of 120,000, all clothed in authen­tic uni­forms, and the Red Army was mobi­lized to recre­ate Napoleon’s bat­tles exact­ly (it is claimed) as they hap­pened.” What’s more, 35,000 cos­tumes were made for the pro­duc­tion, and many Sovi­et muse­ums con­tributed arti­facts for the pro­duc­tion design. That’s stag­ger­ing, even by today’s stan­dards.

Released in four parts between 1965 and 1967, the Acad­e­my Award-win­ning film runs more than sev­en hours and you can now find it play­ing on YouTube. You can watch Part 1 here, and here you have Part 2Part 3 and Part 4. And if you need sub­ti­tles, click CC at the bot­tom of the videos. The film is, of course, list­ed in our col­lec­tion of Free Movies Online.

Thanks Ammar for the heads up on this film!

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Comments (9)
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  • palisadesk says:

    Hey, thanks for the update on this film. I remem­ber see­ing it in a the­ater in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. (I believe it was around 1970) and being quite impressed with how faith­ful it was to the book and how UN-Hol­ly­wood it was: when Natasha cried, her face got all red and swollen like a real per­son­’s does, she did­n’t look glam­orous. My friend who went with me was a Russ­ian spe­cial­ist with the fed­er­al govt. and found the Russ­ian set­tings, his­tor­i­cal details and so on to be quite accu­rate as well.

    It is a LOOOOOONG film — IIRC, it was shown in two three-hour blocks with a din­ner break in between.

    I’ll def­i­nite­ly get the DVD.

  • Rob G says:

    I can­not get any of the parts to work. Any houghts?

  • Laurie says:

    Am try­ing to watch War and Peace — instruc­tions say click on CC for sub­ti­tles — have not been able to find it at bot­tom of video as indi­cat­ed — can some­one help me get Eng­lish sub­ti­tles for this film?

  • Bev says:

    What a fan­tas­tic movie. Thank you for shar­ing it. Absolute­ly beau­ti­ful.

  • Mary Ann says:

    Saw it on tv in the 1970’s in 5 parts, one each nite, and loved it. final­ly found the tape on ebay which was­nt good qual­i­ty but final­ly got the dvd. a good thing to watch when you are home sick or in because of inclement weath­er. loved it and try watch­ing it each year.

  • Nicholas Koriakin says:

    I under­stand it’s a 9 hour movie. I saw it over 2 days in 1969 in Eng­lish with 3 hours each day. Where can I buy the 9 hour Blu-Ray DVD of Bon­darchuk’s War and Peace in Engish?

  • Larissa says:

    I had the very same prob­le­ma.

  • Joan Van Tassel says:

    3/30/2019: All four part of this film have been removed. There is no video at any of the links in the arti­cle, at least on this date.

  • constantin tudor says:

    Buna ziua!! Am donat…Cum pot urmarii fil­mul RAZBOI SI PACE??? Astept raspuns!!!Multumiri!

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