war and peace


Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray and DVD on May 10th from Anchor Bay Entertainment, TWC and the BBC is the beautifully told story of WAR & PEACE: The Complete Miniseries.

It is 1805 Russia when only the rumors of Napoleon coming to Moscow were on the wind. Pierre (Paul Dano) is the illegitimate son of Count Bezukhov, the richest man in Russia. Prince Kuragin (Stephen Rea) is doing everything possible to make sure that Pierre doesn’t inherit a thing, but the young man has many on his side.

Becoming the new Count Bezukhov takes Pierre from a simple life to extravagance like he has never known. That is when Anna Povlovna Scherer (Gillian Anderson) sets her sites on matchmaking with Helene (Tuppence Middleton). Before Pierre has a time to catch his wealthy breathe, he is married.

Happy for all his success is the Rostova family and his good friend Natasha (Lily James), Nikolai (Jack Lowden), parents Count Rostov (Adrian Edmondson) and Countess Rostova (Greta Scacchi) along with Cousin Sonya (Aisling Loftus).

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Also friends of Pierre are the Bolkonsky family including Prince Andrei (James Norton), his sister Princess Marya (Jessie Buckley) and their very loud father Prince Bolkonsky (Jim Broadbent).

Prince Andrei and Nikolai are soldiers who are preparing for what might happen if Napoleon Bonaparte (Mathieu Kassovitz) enters their country. After losing his wife, Prince Andrei begins to have feelings for Natasha but father Prince Bolkonsky wants them to wait a year and Natasha agrees.

Meanwhile Sonya and Nikolai have had an unspoken relationship but he is having trouble making the commitment. His mother the Countess decides its time for her son to help the family financially and wants Nikolai to marry a wealthy woman.

In the meantime Pierre discovers that his wife Helena has been less than faithful yet he looks the other way until he can’t any longer. Having a hard time knowing what to do, he becomes involved in the lives of his friends.

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War is on the horizon as Napoleon invades Russia, in the midst of it all relationships are being torn apart, friendships put to the test, loyalties under scrutiny, secrets kept, families in ruin and all in the name of love.

This is the story of life.

Dano as Pierre is absolutely perfect for this role. Subdued and a humble young man, Pierre is thrust into this world that he isn’t prepared for. Dano has the amazing ability to look fragile and wallflower-ish when he wants to and for this role works his magic. The wounded wealthy bird is only one of the many hearts broken in this series and Dano leads the way. I always want to just wrap him up and take him home (Hope you don’t mind Zoe!)

This actor’s career has proven over and over again that his performances are worth seeing. From LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE to THERE WILL BE BLOOD to RUBY SPARKS and PRISONERS, Dano has riveted audiences. In 12 YEARS A SLAVE he all but scared the beejeezus out of me and in YOUTH Dano surprised me again! Ask how excited I am about the upcoming Joon Ho Bong film OKJA to see what he will do next.

James as Natasha is also perfect for this role. She is a spit-fire and has no problem standing up for the cause of love. Natasha is dedicated to family, loyal to friends and when she loves it can be confusing. Ah, such is youth! James caught my eye because I am a huge Downton Abbey fan so imagine my surprise when she appeared as Lady Rose MacClare, another spit-fire young lady who knows her own mind and stands up for her family. In PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES she got to kick a little zombie tale and still stand with family. Family is a big thing for James and we don’t mind one little bit!

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Norton as Prince Andrei has the total look of royalty but hides his true feelings. It’s just sad to watch what he goes through which means Norton is portraying the Prince beautifully. Buckley as sister Marya is dark, pensive, dutiful and a little dowdy for a Princess who really just wants to find love for who she is.

Lowden as Nikolai is the dashing son who goes off to war not really and truly understanding what that means. When he does, it sets of a chain of events that affect his family more than him. I enjoyed Lowden’s performance very much. Loftus as Sonya felt like the twin-sister-from-another-mother in Marya. She has all the same qualities without the crown. Dealing with an Aunt who doesn’t see her as fit and a man who doesn’t see her at all, I’m surprised she even stuck around so kudos to Loftus.

Anderson as Scherer is the socialite who likes to be in the middle of everything and has no problem forwarding the gossip she hears. Rea as Prince Kuragin had other plans for Pierre which included continued poverty but Rea can pull off a smooth bad guy like no other.

Middleton as Helene played a character that pretty much deserved everything she got. Scacchi as Countess Rostova is a tad ruthless but if one can look past that it is a bit based on fear of losing everything. Edmondson as Count Rostov is the caring father who wants only the best for his family and is forgiving no matter what they do.

Broadbent as Prince Bolkonsky is loud, dismissive towards his children, lacks feelings about others, and holds his children emotionally hostage. That’s quite a busy character to play and Broadbent gives it his all.

Supporting cast includes: Tom Burke as Fedor Dolokhov, Callum Turner as Anatole Kuragin, Aneurin Barnard as Boris Drubetskoy, Kenneth Cranham as Uncle Mikhail, Ken Stott as Osip Bazdeev, Kate Phillips as Lise Bolkonskaya, Ben Lloyd-Hughes as Czar Alexander and Brian Cox as General Mikhail Kutuzov.

The Weinstein Company encompasses an array of film from TWC as well as Miramax. To date they have received 351 Oscar nominations and won 81 Academy Awards. For more about TWC please visit http://weinsteinco.com.

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Anchor Bay Entertainment has an amazing theatrical and home entertainment library that include STARZ original series, children’s entertainment, fitness and sports on DVD and Bluray formats. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.anchorbayentertainment.com.

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give WAR & PEACE: The Complete Miniseries four tubs of popcorn out of five. It is the cast that make this miniseries to brilliant to watch. I am a huge fan of period pieces and this is one you don’t want to get wrong and TWC and BBC get it absolutely right. The costuming is beautiful, the setting and scenery lend itself to the telling and the music is emotional.

It is truly the cast that brings this story life and believable characters that we want to find life, love and happiness. WAR & PEACE gave me the nostalgia of such films as DR. ZHIVAGO and BURNT BY THE SUN. The miniseries truly gives Tolstoy’s story time to unravel slowly letting everything play out beautifully.

That’s where director Tom Harper and story adaptor Andrew Davis come in. They brought together the beautiful tale of a time in Russia so deep and rich that holds every human emotion imaginable. Add WAR & PEACE to your own home media library because this is a jewel to be had.

Tolstoy was himself born into a well-to-do family that he would eventually walk away from.  After spending time in the Army in 1857, Tolstoy declared that he would ‘never serve any government ever again’. Meeting Victor Hugo, author of Les Miserables, in 1860 while still in Europe influenced Tolstoy politically and in his writings as War and Peace came to the page in 1869.

The Bluray includes special features of From Page to Screen, The Read Through, Making the Music, Count Rostov’s Dance, Rundale Palace, What is War & Peace?.

In the end – it is an era that is about to change them all!