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A Peerless ‘War and Peace’ Film Is Restored to Its Former Glory

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by JozefK, Mar 12, 2019.

  1. Claus LH

    Claus LH Forum Resident

    My BR copy just arrived, so the Ruscico DVD set will be sitting on the shelf un-watched...:)
    I still hope that one day they will be able to rescue the original 70mm production elements and do a scan of them, if nothing else for history. Bondarchuk damn near killed himself making this monster; regardless of the filmic sh0rtcomings, he deserves to have his enormous work preserved in the highest quality.
    longdist01 and fabre like this.
  2. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    Central PA
    Were they all 35? All I'm reading are, "different sources".
  3. Claus LH

    Claus LH Forum Resident

    What I have seen mentioned over the years suggests that the "real" 70-mm shooting elements of the film have been languishing for decades in various locations, with little attempt to pull it all together. Gosfilmofond handles the distribution of this and other Russian films, and the word has been that they have 35 mm only (this is what the Ruscico DVD set was made from.)

    If they indeed dug up some of the 70-mil footage, re-scanned it and put it in with this restoration, all the better, but I am not holding my breath. Evidently someone went to the Ukraine years ago and saw some of the 70-mm workpart reels sitting in storage in horrible conditions. The footage may not even be recoverable any more, we don't know.
    Let's enjoy the Criterion and hope for a full restoration one day.
    longdist01 and budwhite like this.
  4. robertawillisjr

    robertawillisjr Music Lover

    Hampton, VA
  5. DaveySR

    DaveySR Forum Resident

    I know, and that doesn't change what I said. A film shot in 70mm and printed down to 35mm will have more detail than a film shot in 35mm.
    Also, there's an interview with Mosfilm that claims at least some of the footage is indeed 70mm.
    Claus LH likes this.
  6. fabre

    fabre Forum Resident

    I watched "War and Peace" over the weekend and I am in love again with this movie. I haven't seen it for more than 15 years or so.
    I was really blown away by the cinematography, the philosophical questions about love, life and death, war and peace and the poetic quality of the pictures and words voiced through internal monologues (maybe stream of consciousness is the better phrase) of the characters. Just thinking about the use of the camera, the creativity and the inventiveness, and how effective and perplexing this often looks makes me wonder how Bondarchuck and his crew did this. The battle scenes and the burning Moscow are seemingly endless in range. Awesome!

    You could fill a book with poetic shots from the movie. It's epic in every sense - a true masterpiece. The music is great as well.

    I never read the book but watching it this time I decided to buy a newly translated copy of "War and Peace" and read it some time (it has only about 2500 pages).

    The Criterion DVD looks beautiful but I did have a problem with the 1st disc. It only showed 104 minutes when checking the setup and stopped at about 80 minutes. The movie on the 1st disc runs about 140 minutes. I finished the movie watching the Ruscico DVD which isn't bad at all, just not as good as the Criterion.
    The disc played on my computer but it looks like there is something like a cloud near the inner ring. I guess I have to exchange the disc and see if it was defective. Disc 2 and 3 are fine.
    longdist01, RayS and Wes H like this.
  7. RayS

    RayS A Little Bit Older and a Little Bit Slower

    Out of My Element
    The film is now available on The Criterion Channel.
    Luckless Pedestrian likes this.
  8. Matt Richardson

    Matt Richardson Forum Resident

    I actually liked the film more than the book, which I found compromised by the many "philosophy of history" chapters that didn't have anything to do with the narrative (a prime reason why the book is so long). I'd advise any first time reader of the book to skip those chapters entirely. The work is actually pretty easy to read, otherwise. The prose is simple and chapters usually not very long.

    At any rate, I think the film did a fine job in capturing the sweep and dramatics of Tolstoy's magnum opus. I was hoping that Criterion would use this film to inaugurate a new line of 4K disc releases, but alas, that is not to be true, apparently.
    fabre likes this.
  9. fabre

    fabre Forum Resident

    Thanks for your insights. There are so many books I wanted to read but didn't (yet) and I also read a few reviews and some were saying they skipped the overly long battle descriptions. I am not flying through the lines, I am rather a slow reader so it will be a challenge but because I didn't have the book yet I said "now it is time".

    I haven't read anything by Tolstoy so far but I've read several other Russian classics like Bulgakov's Master and Margarita (and some of his early works) and stories by Chekhov, Gogol and Turgenev.
    Looking forward to reading it.
    Matt Richardson likes this.
  10. RayS

    RayS A Little Bit Older and a Little Bit Slower

    Out of My Element
    I just finished watching the film on Criterion Channel. I’ve read the book but never seen the film. I found it deserving of the praise that it has been given. Great storytelling with an endless array of stunning cinematography (the looting/burning of Moscow being just one instance). The film certainly holds true to Tolstoy’s tone. Well worth 7.5 hours of one’s time.

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