War and Peace (1956 film)

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War and Peace
Poster - War and Peace (1956) 03.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by King Vidor
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based on War and Peace 
by Leo Tolstoy
Music by Nino Rota
Cinematography Jack Cardiff
Edited by Leo Cattozzo
Ponti-De Laurentiis Cinematografica
Distributed by
Release dates
  • August 21, 1956 (1956-08-21) (United States)
  • December 29, 1956 (1956-12-29) (Italy)
Running time
208 minutes
  • United States
  • Italy
  • English
  • Italian
  • Russian
Budget $6 million
Box office $6.25 million (Rentals)[1]

War and Peace is a 1956 American-Italian war drama film directed by King Vidor and written by Vidor, Bridget Boland, Mario Camerini, Ennio De Concini, Gian Gaspare Napolitano, Ivo Perilli, Mario Soldati, and Robert Westerby based on Leo Tolstoy's 1869 novel of the same name. The film, released by Paramount Pictures, was produced by Dino De Laurentiis and Carlo Ponti with a music score by Nino Rota and cinematography by Jack Cardiff.

The film stars Audrey Hepburn, Henry Fonda, and Mel Ferrer, along with Herbert Lom and Anita Ekberg, in one of her first breakthrough roles. It had Academy Awards nominations for Best Director (King Vidor), Best Cinematography, Color (Jack Cardiff) and Best Costume Design, Color (Maria De Matteis).


Differences from the novel[edit]

The film script had to condense the extensive original. It is primarily focused on Natasha, Pierre, and Andrei, their complex relationship and personal maturation on the backdrop of the historical events of the Napoleonic invasion.

  • In Moscow, most of the scenes take place at the Rostov residence, and episodes at the country estates are curtailed, with some exceptions such as the hunt where Natasha first meets Andrei. This is a condensation of two scenes at the Rostov country estate, since in the novel Andrei, who by then is already Natasha's fiancé, is not present at the hunt.
  • There is no scene from St. Petersburg.
  • The relationship between Nikolas, Sonya, and Mary is toned down.
  • Historical figures retained are General Kutuzov and Napoleon.
  • Minor battles are omitted, while Napoleon's crossing of the Berezina is added.
  • The concept of the inner dialogue is retained, notably in regard to Natasha, but the extensive use of French is not retained in the film.
  • Events of the epilogue are not included, nor are Tolstoy's discourses about history.


The film received mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes reports that 33% of 6 reviews were positive, with an average rating of 4.8/10.[2]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1956', Variety Weekly, January 2, 1957.
  2. ^ "War and Peace (1956)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved November 24, 2015. 

External links[edit]