War & Peace (2016 TV series)
|War & Peace|
|Based on||War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy|
|Written by||Andrew Davies|
|Directed by||Tom Harper|
|Country of origin||
|No. of series||1|
|No. of episodes||6 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||60-82 minutes|
|Picture format||16:9 1080i|
|Original release||3 January– 7 February 2016|
War & Peace is a historical period drama television serial first broadcast on BBC One on 3 January 2016, produced by BBC Cymru Wales, in association with The Weinstein Company, Lookout Point and BBC Worldwide. It is a six-part adaptation of the novel War and Peace by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, written by Andrew Davies and directed by Tom Harper. War & Peace aired on A&E, Lifetime, and History Channel in the United States as four two-hour episodes, beginning on 18 January 2016. The serial stars Paul Dano, Lily James and James Norton in the leading roles.
The saga begins in Russia in 1805. When Pierre (Paul Dano), Natasha (Lily James) and Andrei (James Norton) are first introduced to viewers, their youthful ambition, despite their privileged circumstances, is to find meaning in their lives. Kind-hearted but awkward Pierre, the illegitimate son of Russia’s richest man, wants to change the world for the better. The spirited Natasha is searching for true love, while handsome and gallant Andrei, frustrated with the superficiality of society, seeks a higher purpose.
At the same time, Napoleon's army edges ever closer to Russia’s borders. Natasha's older brother Nikolai (Jack Lowden) joins the army immediately and matures during the course of the war against Napoleon. Like Pierre, Natasha, and Andrei, he also experiences romantic vicissitudes: despite his childhood love for his cousin Sonya (Aisling Loftus), his impoverished parents insist he marry a rich bride like the superficial Julie Karagina or the religious Marya Bolkonskaya (Jessie Buckley).
Having begun with Napoleon's military campaign against Russia and Austria in 1805, the story concludes in 1812 after Napoleon's invasion of Russia has failed and he has retreated and withdrawn from Russian territory. The families at the center of the saga have undergone major changes and lost members, but those remaining have experienced a transformation and a new life, with new growth and new families started.
The cast was announced on 28 December 2014.
- Paul Dano as Pierre Bezukhov
- Lily James as Natasha Rostova
- James Norton as Andrei Bolkonsky
- Jessie Buckley as Marya Bolkonskaya
- Jack Lowden as Nikolai Rostov
- Aisling Loftus as Sonya Rostova
- Tom Burke as Fedor Dolokhov
- Tuppence Middleton as Hélène Kuragina
- Callum Turner as Anatole Kuragin
- Adrian Edmondson as Count Ilya Rostov
- Rebecca Front as Anna Mikhaylovna Drubetskaya
- Greta Scacchi as Countess Natalya Rostova
- Aneurin Barnard as Boris Drubetskoy
- Mathieu Kassovitz as Napoleon Bonaparte
- Stephen Rea as Prince Vassily Kuragin
- Brian Cox as General Mikhail Kutuzov
- Kenneth Cranham as Uncle Mikhail
- Gillian Anderson as Anna Pavlovna Scherer
- Jim Broadbent as Prince Nikolai Bolkonsky
- Kate Phillips as Lise Bolkonskaya
- Olivia Ross as Mademoiselle Bourienne
- Thomas Arnold as Vassily Denisov
- Adrian Rawlins as Platon Karataev
- Ken Stott as Osip Alexeevich Bazdeev
- David Quilter as Tikhon
- Ben Lloyd-Hughes as Tsar Alexander
- Otto Farrant as Petya Rostov
- Chloe Pirrie as Julie Karagina
- Rory Keenan as Bilibin
- Terence Beesley as General Bennigsen
- Pip Torrens as Prince Bagration
- Guillaume Faure as Napoleon's Adjutant
- Ludger Pistor as General Mack
The series, a British-American co-production, was announced by Danny Cohen on 18 February 2013 and was commissioned by him and Ben Stephenson, the controller of BBC Drama. The production by BBC Cymru Wales, is partnered by The Weinstein Company, Lookout Point and BBC Worldwide.
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||UK viewers|
|"Episode 1"||Tom Harper||Andrew Davies||3 January 2016||9.33|
|The series opens in Russia in 1805. Napoleon Bonaparte's French army has invaded Austria and now threatens Russia itself. Pierre Bezukhov, the illegitimate son of a count, is a kindhearted but awkward recent university graduate whose outspoken political views, supportive of the French emperor, are less than fully welcomed by polite society. His social status changes however when he unexpectedly inherits his father's vast wealth and numerous estates. Andrei Bolkonsky, Pierre's close friend and the heir to one of Russia's noblest families, seeks glory and advancement in the Tsar's army opposing Napoleon. Natasha Rostova, from a minor noble's family, is a joyous and yet thoughtful girl, still seeking her future place in society.|
|"Episode 2"||Tom Harper||Andrew Davies||10 January 2016||7.72|
|Pierre marries the beautiful and seductive Helene via her father's machinations, but he soon realizes that she is an unloving and mercenary wife. She cuckolds him with his erstwhile friend Dolokhov, whom Pierre then challenges to a duel. Helene's father also tries, unsuccessfully, to engineer a union between his son Anatole and Andrei's religious sister Marya. The Russian army holds off the French for a while, and Natasha's brother Nikolai returns from the army to his family. The Battle of Austerlitz leaves Andrei badly wounded; he is however finally able to get home in time to see his wife Lise give birth to a son, but she dies in childbirth.|
|"Episode 3"||Tom Harper||Andrew Davies||17 January 2016||7.33|
|A nervous Pierre nonetheless defeats Dolokhov in a duel and afterwards separates from Helene, who demands a fortune from him and begins affairs with other men, including the opportunistic Boris Drubetskoi. A Freemason convinces Pierre to resolve his troubles by joining Freemasonry and by devoting himself to helping others. Pierre's efforts to improve the welfare of his serfs are, however, largely ineffectual. When Nikolai returns home on leave, his army friend Denisov accompanies him and soon proposes to Natasha, who awkwardly declines. Dolokhov stays briefly with the Rostovs and proposes to Natasha's cousin Sonya, who turns him down, confessing her love for Nikolai. Afterwards, in a lengthy card game Dolokhov wins a huge sum of money from Nikolai, which plunges the Rostov family into enormous debt. Napoleon signs a peace treaty with Russia in 1807. The story moves to the spring of 1809: Andrei has quit the army and has been living a reclusive life out of remorse for neglecting his late wife, but when he meets Natasha while on an errand to the Rostovs both she and Andrei are mutually smitten.|
|"Episode 4"||Tom Harper||Andrew Davies||24 January 2016||7.40|
|Andrei's curmudgeonly father orders him to travel abroad for a year before marrying Natasha, which she reluctantly accepts. Despite his financially strapped parents' insistence, Nikolai refuses to marry the wealthy but superficial heiress Julie Karagina, maintaining instead his lifelong love for his cousin Sonya. Boris's ambitious mother insists that he court the two eligible wealthy heiresses: Andrei's sister Marya, who shows no interest in him, and Julie Karagina, whom he successfully woos with the mournful poetry she likes. After a very awkward meeting with Andrei's father and sister, Natasha feels strongly that they do not like her. Heartbroken and sick of waiting for nearly a year, she is vulnerable when Helene introduces her to her scoundrel brother Anatole, who tries to secretly elope with her, thus ruining her reputation. Pierre chases Anatole out of Moscow and informs Natasha that Anatole already has a wife in Poland. Natasha is devastated.|
|"Episode 5"||Tom Harper||Andrew Davies||31 January 2016||7.25|
|1812: France again breaks peace with Russia and invades, striking towards Moscow. Andrei, back from his travels abroad, returns all of Natasha's letters and mementos and is unwilling to forgive or speak of her, in spite of Pierre's attempts to soften his heart. Meanwhile, Pierre forces himself to avoid his dear friend Natasha because he is secretly in love with her but is a married man. After Andrei returns to the army to defend Russia from the invasion, his erratic father, the old prince Bolkonsky, is increasing difficult for Marya to cope with, and as the French threaten their estate the household is eventually forced to flee after the old prince has a fatal series of strokes. Without her father, Marya is unable to control her rebellious serfs in order to escape the French, but Nikolai Rostov, leading an army detachment, rescues her when he passes through the area; this chance meeting and rescue sparks romance for both of them. Pierre and Andrei meet again prior to the crucial Battle of Borodino.|
|"Episode 6"||Tom Harper||Andrew Davies||7 February 2016||7.39|
|Pierre experiences the gruesome Battle of Borodino as an on-site observer, and gets a true taste of the horrors of war and the courage of soldiers facing death. Andrei fights on the front line and is mortally wounded; at the infirmary he meets the likewise mortally wounded Anatole, whom he had pledged to kill out of revenge, and forgives him instead. As the French advance into Moscow, Natasha and her family flee their home for the countryside. They take wounded soldiers with them, and eventually discover that Andrei is among them. Natasha begs Andrei for forgiveness and he confesses that he still loves her. Andrei dies, with Natasha and his sister Marya by his side. Back in Moscow, which is being burned and looted, Pierre is carrying a concealed weapon and is captured by the French, almost shot, and then imprisoned instead. He is befriended by Platon Karataev, a peasant who has a profound effect on his outlook on the deepest of levels – teaching him about gratitude, simple happiness, and giving and receiving love. A pregnant Helene is unable to reach Pierre to gain consent for divorce and she subsequently dies of an overdose. Napoleon, with no supplies left for him in Moscow or anywhere else, orders all of his troops to retreat and leave Russia – thus a Russian victory is secured. After the terrible hardship of a lengthy imprisonment and march through the Russian winter with the French retreating from Moscow, Pierre is rescued by a guerilla group of Russian soldiers led by Dolokhov and Denisov. The Rostovs' younger son, Petya, is killed in the skirmishes, and after hearing this his father, already in shock from the loss of all his property and the burning of Moscow, subsequently dies of a broken heart. Sonya releases Nikolai from their engagement, and he instead becomes engaged to and later marries Marya. Pierre finally proposes to, and marries, Natasha and starts a family, and their extended family includes the Rostovs, Sonya, and Andrei's son.|
In the U.S. broadcasting began on 18 January 2016 and the series was simulcast across three networks: A&E, Lifetime, and History Channel. It aired in four two-hour blocks over four weeks, at 9pm ET/PT, on Lifetime. In Canada, the show airs at the same time and with the same format as in the United States, but only on A&E.
The serial will also air in Sweden (SVT), Denmark (TV 2), Norway (NRK), Estonia (ETV), Germany (RTL Passion), Greece (OTE), Lithuania (LNK), Israel (YES), Russia (Channel One), China (LeEco), Taiwan (LeEco), India (Vuclip), South Korea (KBS and SK), Philippines (ABS-CBN, Lifestyle), Belgium (BBC First), the Netherlands (BBC First), Luxembourg (BBC First), Portugal (RTP) and Japan (NHK). 
The show has also been sold to France2, Finland’s YLE, NRK in Norway, RUV in Iceland, Latvia’s LTV and TRBC in Ukraine.
The series received mainly very positive reviews. The Telegraph placed it as #5 in its list of the greatest television adaptations of all time, stating "[I]t is safe to say that this is the greatest TV costume drama of the past decade and has raised the bar in a genre for which we are already renowned all over the world."
On Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator website, the series received a 81% approval rating with an average rating of 8.3 out of 10. The website's consensus reads: "War & Peace boasts sumptuous visuals and the narrative remains largely faithful to its sprawling source material, even if the pace may challenge less patient viewers and the period detail is slightly lacking."
A world-premiere press screening of the first episode was held in London on 14 December 2015, after which a first-look review in The Telegraph pronounced it "breathtaking". Christopher Stevens gave it 5 stars in the Daily Mail, calling the opening hour-long episode "nothing less than a sweeping victory". Andrew Billen of The Times gave the first episode 4 stars. Viv Groskop in The Guardian wrote "It's tonally perfect, striking exactly the right balance between drama and wit, action and emotion, passion and humour". The second episode received 5 stars from both Andrew Billen in The Times and Claudia Connell of the Daily Mail. "The third episode was by far the most beautiful installment and the most affecting chapter of War and Peace so far", wrote Neela Debnath in The Express. The ball towards the end of the third episode received particular attention, with Digital Spy describing it as "the most spellbinding moment of television we'll see this year". Benji Wilson from The Telegraph described the third episode as a "dazzling mazurka of roiling passions and misplaced affection", giving 5 stars. The feature-length finale received 5 stars from The Telegraph.
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