War and Peace



The first Russian adaptation was Война и мир (Voyna i mir) in 1915, which was directed by Vladimir Gardin and starred Gardin and the Russian ballerina Vera Karalli. F. Kamei produced a version in Japan in 1947.

The 208-minute long American 1956 version was directed by King Vidor and starred Audrey Hepburn (Natasha), Henry Fonda (Pierre) and Mel Ferrer (Andrei). Audrey Hepburn was nominated for a BAFTA Award for best British actress and for a Golden Globe Award for best actress in a drama production.

The critically acclaimed Soviet version by the director Sergei Bondarchuk was released in four parts in 1966 and 1967. It starred Lyudmila Savelyeva (as Natasha Rostova) and Vyacheslav Tikhonov (as Andrei Bolkonsky). Bondarchuk himself played the character of Pierre Bezukhov. The series' length was some seven hours; it involved thousands of extras and took six years to finish the shooting, as a result of which the actors age changed dramatically from scene to scene. It won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for its authenticity and massive scale.[36] Bondarchuk's film is considered to be the best screen version of the novel. It attracted some controversy due to the number of horses killed during the making of the battle sequences and screenings were actively boycotted in several US cities by the ASPCA.[37]


War and Peace (1972): The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) made a television serial based on the novel, broadcast in 1972–73. Anthony Hopkins played the lead role of Pierre. Other lead characters were played by Rupert Davies, Faith Brook, Morag Hood, Alan Dobie, Angela Down and Sylvester Morand. This version faithfully included many of Tolstoy's minor characters, including Platon Karataev (Harry Locke).[38][39]

La guerre et la paix (2000): French TV production of Prokofiev's opera War and Peace, directed by François Roussillon. Robert Brubaker played the lead role of Pierre.[40]

War and Peace (2007): produced by the Italian Lux Vide, a TV mini-series in Russian & English co-produced in Russia, France, Germany, Poland and Italy. Directed by Robert Dornhelm, with screenplay written by Lorenzo Favella, Enrico Medioli and Gavin Scott. It features an international cast with Alexander Beyer playing the lead role of Pierre assisted by Malcolm McDowell, Clémence Poésy, Alessio Boni, Pilar Abella, J. Kimo Arbas, Ken Duken, Juozapas Bagdonas and Toni Bertorelli.[41]

War and Peace (2015): On 18 February 2013, the BBC announced plans for a six-part adaptation of the novel to be scripted by Andrew Davies and aired on BBC One in 2015.[42][43]


Initiated by a proposal of the German director Erwin Piscator in 1938, the Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev composed his opera War and Peace (Op. 91, libretto by Mira Mendelson) based on this epic novel during the 1940s. The complete musical work premiered in Leningrad in 1955. It was the first opera to be given a public performance at the Sydney Opera House (1973).[44]


The first successful stage adaptations of War and Peace were produced by Alfred Neumann and Erwin Piscator (1942, revised 1955, published by Macgibbon & Kee in London 1963, and staged in 16 countries since) and R. Lucas (1943).

A stage adaptation by Helen Edmundson, first produced in 1996 at the Royal National Theatre, was published that year by Nick Hern Books, London. Edmundson added to and amended the play[45] for a 2008 production as two 3-hour parts by Shared Experience, directed by Nancy Meckler and Polly Teale.[46] This was first put on at the Nottingham Playhouse, then toured in the UK to Liverpool, Darlington, Bath, Warwick, Oxford, Truro, London (the Hampstead Theatre) and Cheltenham.

A musical adaptation by OBIE Award-winner Dave Malloy, called Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 premiered at the Ars Nova theater in Manhattan on October 1, 2012. The show is described as an electropop opera, and is based on Book 8 of War and Peace, focusing on Natasha's affair with Anatole.[47]


The BBC Home Service broadcast an eight-part adaptation by Walter Peacock from 17 January to 7 February 1943 with two episodes on each Sunday. All but the last instalment, which ran for one and a half hours, were one hour long. Leslie Banks played Pierre while Celia Johnson was Natasha.

In December 1970, Pacifica Radio station WBAI broadcast a reading of the entire novel (the 1968 Dunnigan translation) read by over 140 celebrities and ordinary people.[48]

A dramatised full-cast adaptation in 20 parts, edited by Michael Bakewell, was broadcast by the BBC. Transmission Times: 30.12.1969 to 12.5.1970 Cast included: David Buck, Kate Binchy, Martin Jarvis

A dramatised full-cast adaptation in ten parts was written by Marcy Kahan and Mike Walker in 1997 for BBC Radio 4. The production won the 1998 Talkie award for Best Drama and was around 9.5 hours in length. It was directed by Janet Whitaker and featured Simon Russell Beale, Gerard Murphy, Richard Johnson, and others.[49]

On New Year's Day 2015, BBC Radio 4 broadcast the drama over 10 hours. These episodes [50] are also available to listen to afterwards on iPlayer. The dramatisation, by playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker, was directed by Celia de Wolff and starred Paterson Joseph and John Hurt.

It was accompanied by a Tweetalong: live tweets throughout the day which offered a playful companion to the book, and included plot summaries and entertaining commentary. The Twitter feed also shared maps, family trees and battle plans.[51]


Composition by Nino Rota[52]

Referring to album notes, the first track "The Gates of Delirium", from the album Relayer, by the progressive rock group Yes, is said to be based loosely on the novel.[53]

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