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HISTORY

At the end of the film, the following quotation from Leo Tolstoy’s novel War and Peace appears onscreen: “The most difficult thing—but an essential one—is to love Life, to love it even while one suffers, because Life is all. Life is God, and to love Life means to love God.” During the film, an offscreen narrator occasionally provides dates and factual information, and some voice-over narration by the actors is used to illustrate the thoughts and feelings of their characters, as when “Andrey” tells himself that if “Natasha” smiles at him while she is dancing, he will marry her. As depicted in the film, Napoleon Bonaparte’s forces engaged the Russian Army in several important battles, especially at Austerlitz (20 Nov 1805) and Borodino (26 Aug 1812). Bonaparte’s attempt to invade and conquer Russia was foiled, to a great extent, because of the “scorched earth” policy of the retreating military and civilians, who set fire to the countryside, villages and cities rather than allow the French to take possession of them.
       As noted in HR news items, British producer Alexander Korda announced interest in adapting War and Peace for the screen as early as 1941, with Orson Welles directing and Merle Oberon starring. A Jul 1942 NYT article reported that Korda’s film was to be made in cooperation with the Soviet government, and HR news items in 1943 and 1944 announced that Agnes Moorehead and her husband, Jack Lee, would be starring in Korda's production, with Lillian Hellman writing the screenplay. Korda's production was never realized, however. Producer Mike Todd actively pursued filming ... More Less

At the end of the film, the following quotation from Leo Tolstoy’s novel War and Peace appears onscreen: “The most difficult thing—but an essential one—is to love Life, to love it even while one suffers, because Life is all. Life is God, and to love Life means to love God.” During the film, an offscreen narrator occasionally provides dates and factual information, and some voice-over narration by the actors is used to illustrate the thoughts and feelings of their characters, as when “Andrey” tells himself that if “Natasha” smiles at him while she is dancing, he will marry her. As depicted in the film, Napoleon Bonaparte’s forces engaged the Russian Army in several important battles, especially at Austerlitz (20 Nov 1805) and Borodino (26 Aug 1812). Bonaparte’s attempt to invade and conquer Russia was foiled, to a great extent, because of the “scorched earth” policy of the retreating military and civilians, who set fire to the countryside, villages and cities rather than allow the French to take possession of them.
       As noted in HR news items, British producer Alexander Korda announced interest in adapting War and Peace for the screen as early as 1941, with Orson Welles directing and Merle Oberon starring. A Jul 1942 NYT article reported that Korda’s film was to be made in cooperation with the Soviet government, and HR news items in 1943 and 1944 announced that Agnes Moorehead and her husband, Jack Lee, would be starring in Korda's production, with Lillian Hellman writing the screenplay. Korda's production was never realized, however. Producer Mike Todd actively pursued filming the vehicle in the 1950s, even arranging with Soviet and Yugoslavian officials for filming locations and the massive number of required extras. According to modern sources, Todd, who had announced that Fred Zinnemann would direct his production, also wanted Audrey Hepburn to star as “Natasha” and was greatly disappointed when she instead signed with Dino De Laurentiis and Carlo Ponti. Todd’s abandonment of his plans to film War and Peace was due partially to the heavy production and promotion schedule of his own spectacular, Around the World in Eighty Days (see above). Two 1956 Cue articles noted that David O. Selznick had also announced his intention to film a version of the Tolstoy novel.
       Italian producers De Laurentiis and Ponti announced pre-production on their version of War and Peace in Oct 1954, and on 10 Oct 1954, NYT reported that Gerard Philipe “probably” would have one of the “major roles,” and that in addition to offering the directorial assignment to Eliza Kazan, the producers were hoping to cast Marlon Brando as “Pierre.” On 10 Dec 1954, HR noted that Mario Camerini was set to direct the picture. The item also reported that Columbia was in negotiations to co-produce and distribute the feature. Although a Feb 1955 NYT news item stated that Gregory Peck was soon to be signed for the role of Andrey, modern sources assert that the producers were interested in casting him as Pierre. In a modern interview, director King Vidor stated that he also considered Paul Scofield for Pierre. In Mar 1955, NYT reported that the cast was to include Peck, Jean Simmons, either Stewart Granger or Richard Burton, Valentina Cortese, Gino Cervi and Massimo Serato. Information in the Arthur Freed Collection at the USC Cinema-Television Library notes that Sebastian Cabot was tested for a part in the picture.
       According to an 8 Jul 1955 HR news item, Fredric March was originally offered the role of “Gen. Mikhail Kutuzov.” Information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library reveals that Arlene Dahl was cast as “Helene Kuragina” but fell ill and was replaced by Anita Ekberg, who was borrowed from Batjac Productions. A Sep 1955 HR news item includes Paul Davis in the cast, but his appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed.
       According to modern sources, Hepburn, who had a great deal of control over the production due to her extensive contract, suggested Peter Ustinov for the role of Pierre and requested that Franz Planer , with whom she had worked on Roman Holiday (see above), serve as the director of photography. Hepburn also employed makeup artist Alberto De Rossi’s wife Grazia as her hairstylist and asked her friend, designer Hubert de Givenchy, to supervise her costume fittings. War and Peace was the only film in which Hepburn co-starred with her then-husband, Mel Ferrer (although Ferrer had a cameo in Hepburn's 1964 film Paris When It Sizzles . See AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70 ). According to a Feb 1956 LAT article, Hepburn received $350,000, the largest salary of any of the actors in the film.
       Modern sources report that Hepburn was borrowed from Paramount and Associated British, which co-owned her contract, and that in exchange for her services, Associated British was given the right to distribute War and Peace in Great Britain. According to a 20 May 1955 DV article, Paramount was to receive “global distribution rights (except Italy)” in exchange for a payment of $2,000,000 to Ponti and De Laurentiis upon the film’s completion. The Paramount Collection and HR news items reveal that Lux Film loaned a significant amount of production money to De Laurentiis and Ponti, in exchange for the Italian distribution rights. According to the Jul 1956 Cue article, De Laurentiis gave Ponti his interest in their film studio in exchange for the full rights to War and Peace .
       Although onscreen writing credits for War and Peace read "Adaptation Bridget Boland, Robert Westerby, King Vidor, Mario Camerini, Ennio De Concini, Ivo Perilli," as reported in numerous contemporary sources, Irwin Shaw wrote the final shooting script for the film. According to a 1 Aug 1956 item in HR ’s “Rambling Reporter” column, Shaw insisted that his name not be included in the onscreen credits. The item went on to state that Shaw’s ire was caused by Vidor’s admission that Vidor’s wife, Elizabeth Hill, changed much of the dialogue. In noting that the onscreen writing credits were for adaptation only, rather than for screenplay, the DV reviewer commented: “The film’s scripting credit is strangely anonymous in light of Irwin Shaw’s request to remove his billing when director Vidor reportedly rewrote so many scenes on his own.” The Feb 1955 NYT article included Jean Aurenche, Pierre Bost and Sergio Amidei in the list of writers working on the project, but the extent of their contribution to the completed picture, if any, has not been confirmed. According to a modern interview with Vidor, second unit director Mario Soldati, who directed the battle scenes, also, contributed to the completed script.
       In commenting on the difficulty of adapting Tolstoy's very complex and long novel for the screen, reviews of the picture noted that the filmmakers eliminated several characters and some of the battle sequences. The HR critic noted that the film "has reduced the number of major characters [from over 30] to 18, eliminating some and combining others." Although the battles of Austerlitz and Borodino are depicted in the film, Tolstoy's description of battles at Amstetten, Preussisch-Eylau, Friedland and Ostrovna were not included.
       According to contemporary sources, the picture was filmed on location in Turin and Rome, Italy, and utilized the Ponti-De Laurentiis Studios and Cinecittà Studios in Rome. A 7 Aug 1955 NYT article reported that a third "major," but unidentified, studio in Rome also was used. According to a Jan 1955 HR news item and a May 1955 NYT item, background footage involving snow scenes had been shot in Finland, but a mid-Jul 1955 HR news item stated that the entire picture would be shot in Italy because “planned locations” in Finland and Yugoslavia had been “cancelled as unnecessary.” It is probable that the Finland footage was used for process shots. The NYT item also reported that Soldati was shooting background footage in Sardinia. Contemporary sources report the lavish film’s cost as between $6,000,000 and $7,000,000, with Vidor noting, in a Sep 1956 BHC interview, that the picture would have cost much more if the thousands of extras from the Italian Army had been paid by the production company.
       Various source state that between 5,000 and 8,000 Italian troops were used, although a pressbook from the film’s 1963 re-release proclaimed that 18,000 soldiers and thousands of horses were employed. [A 12 May 1957 NYT article reported that “use of Italian troops for War and Peace caused a furor in public and parliamentary circles, and permits have been denied or discouraged ever since."] The pressbook also reported that the more than 100,000 uniforms, costumes and hairpieces required for the film were reproduced from original, contemporary drawings. In May 1955, DV reported that a 16mm documentary film, being produced by Fausto Saraceni and designed for television, theatrical and educational distribution, was being shot about the making of War and Peace ; however, no information about the documentary’s release has been found.
       The film’s New York premiere was a benefit for the Tolstoy Foundation, while Tolstoy’s daughter, Countess Alexandra Tolstoy, personally attended the picture’s Los Angeles opening. HCN reported that the countess was pleased with the film adaptation, stating that it “caught the spirit of my father which permeated the pages of the novel.” Because of the film’s epic scope, many reviews compared it to Birth of a Nation and Gone With the Wind (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 and 1931-40 ). The SatRev critic noted that the “picture originally ran about five-and-a-half hours” before being editing into a commercially viable length. While professing reservations about the film’s success in adapting Tolstoy’s complicated novel, most reviews complimented Jack Cardiff’s cinematography and the majority of the acting. Several critics took issue with the various, contrasting accents in the film, however, stating in particular that John Mills’s cockney accent was out of place with his Russian character, “Platon.” According to the Var review, “some of the lesser principals, of native Italian lineage, also found themselves dubbed into British English.” Modern sources add that Vittorio Gassman and Anita Ekberg were two of the actors who were dubbed. War and Peace was nominated for Academy Awards in the categories of Best Cinematography (Color) and Best Costume Design (Color), and Vidor received a nomination as Best Director. As an Italian entry, the picture won a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film. According to 1958 HR news items, War and Peace was the first “major film with Hollywood stars to play in Russia since the end of World War II.” The Soviet government purchased the rights to distribute the film from Ponti and De Laurentiis for approximately $106,000. By Feb 1959, the film had grossed $18,000,000 worldwide, according to a HR news item.
       Modern sources include the following actors in the cast: Teresa Pellati ( Masa ); Maria Zanoli ( Mayra ); Alberto Carlo Lolli ( Prokofiev, Rostov’s major-domo ); Mario Addobati ( Young Mlle. Georges ); Gianni Luda, Eschilo Tarquini, Alex D’Alessio, Alfredo Rizzo, John Douglas, Robert Stephens, Angelo Galassi, David Crowley, Patrick Barrett and Michael Billingsley ( Russian soldiers ); Mauro Lanciani ( Kolya, Andrey’s son ); Ina Alexeiva ( Kolya’s governess ); Don Little and John Home ( Natasha’s dancing partners ); Sdenka Kirchen ( Rostov maid ); Nando Gallai ( Count Bezukhov’s servant ); Michael Tor ( Pope ); Piero Pastore ( Andrey’s servant ); Vincent Barbi ( Balaga, Dolokhov’s coachman ); Luciano Angelini ( Young soldier at Borodino ); Charles Fawcett ( Russian artillery captain ); Piero Palermini ( Russian artillery lieutenant ); Aldo Saporetti, Dimitri Konstantinov, Robin White Cross and Lucio de Santis ( Young officers at Dolokhov’s ); Robert Cunningham ( Pierre’s second ); Andrea Esterhazy ( Dolokhov’s second ); Marianne Leibl ( Vera, Bolkonsky servant ); Marisa Allasio (Matriosa, Dolokhov’s servant ); Stephen Garrett ( Coachman/Doctor ); Cesare Barbetti ( Young boy ); Francis Foucaud ( French soldier ); Savo Raskovitch ( Czar Alexander I ); George Brehat ( French officer at execution ); Gilberto Tofano ( Young dying soldier ); Umberto Sacripante ( Old man ); Paole Quagliero ( Woman rescued by Pierre ); Christopher Hofer ( French officer during retreat ); Carlo Delmi ( Young guard ); Enrico Olivieri ( French drummer ); Eric Oulton, Archibald Lyall, John Stacey and Mino Doro ( Russian generals ); Alan Furlan and Joop van Hulsen ( Russian officers ); Giovanni Rossi-Loti ( Young Russian officer at Austerlitz ); Giacomo Rossi-Stuart ( Young Cossack ); Guido Celano ( Napoleon’s officer ); Jerry Riggio, Geoffrey Copplestone, Mimmo Palmara, Giorgio Constantini and Carlo Dale ( French officers ); Richard McNamara ( De Beausset ); Stephen Lang ( Tichon ); Gualtiero Tumiati ( Count Benuchov ); Celia Matania ( Mademoiselle Georges ); Andrea Fantasia ( Constand ); and Micaela Giustiniani, Giuseppe Addobati, Augusto Borselli, Carmelo Consoli, Tiziano Cortini, Henry Danieli, Richard Dawson, Dino Gelio, Arcibaldo Layall, Nino Milia, Frank Pex and Henri Vidon.
       In 1987, LAT noted that “about five minutes” of footage from the 1956 version of War and Peace was utilized in the television miniseries Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story . Between 1962 and 1967, a 480-minute version of War and Peace was produced in the Soviet Union. Released in the United States in 1968 in a 390-minute, English-language version, the picture was directed by Sergei Bondarchuk and starred Lyudmila Savelyeva as Natasha, Vyacheslav Tikhonov as Andrey and Bondarchuk as Pierre (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70 ). In 1973, Tolstoy’s novel was used as the basis for a PBS television miniseries, directed by John Howard Davies and starring Morag Hood, Alan Dobie and Anthony Hopkins. A Russian ballet of the story was telecast in 1991 with Elena Prokina, Alexander Gergalov and Gegam Grigorian as the stars. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
BHC
4 Sep 1956.
---
Box Office
25 Aug 1956.
---
Box Office
1 Sep 1956.
---
Cue
21 Jul 1956.
---
Cue
1 Sep 1956
p. 16.
Daily Variety
6 Apr 1955.
---
Daily Variety
13 May 1955.
---
Daily Variety
20 May 1955
p. 1, 10.
Daily Variety
22 Aug 56
p. 3.
Film Daily
22 Aug 56
p. 7.
Films in Review
Oct 1956.
---
Hollywood Citizen-News
27 Aug 1955.
---
Hollywood Citizen-News
24 Aug 1956
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Dec 1941
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
18 May 1943
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Nov 1943
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Nov 1943
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Dec 1943
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Apr 1944
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Oct 1954.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Dec 1954.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jan 1955.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 May 1955.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jul 1955
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jul 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jul 1955
p. 3, 13.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jul 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jul 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Sep 1955
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Dec 1955
p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Apr 1956
p. 1, 4.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 1956
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Aug 1956
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Aug 56
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jan 1957
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jan 1957
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Feb 1958
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Mar 1958
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Mar 1958
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Apr 1958
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Apr 1958
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Feb 1959
p. 2.
LAMirror-News
20 May 1955.
---
LAMirror-News
24 Aug 1956.
---
Life
20 Aug 1956.
---
Look
16 Oct 1956.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
24 Aug 1956.
---
Los Angeles Times
26 Feb 1956
part IV, p. 1, 4.
Los Angeles Times
19 Aug 1956.
---
Los Angeles Times
6 Dec 1987.
---
Motion Picture Daily
22 Aug 1956
p. 1, 3.
Motion Picture Daily
23 Aug 1956
p. 1, 7.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
1 Sep 56
p. 51.
New York Times
5 Jul 1942.
---
New York Times
10 Oct 1954.
---
New York Times
20 Feb 1955.
---
New York Times
20 Mar 1955.
---
New York Times
29 May 1955.
---
New York Times
7 Aug 1955.
---
New York Times
12 Aug 1956.
---
New York Times
22 Aug 56
p. 26.
New York Times
26 Aug 1956.
---
New York Times
12 May 1957.
---
New York Times
23 Mar 1963.
---
New Yorker
1 Sep 1956.
---
Newsweek
3 Sep 1956.
---
NYT Magazine
8 Jul 1956.
---
Photoplay Studies
Oct 1956.
---
Redbook
Nov 1956.
---
Saturday Review
8 Sep 1956
pp. 32-33.
Time
10 Sep 1956.
---
Variety
22 Aug 56
p. 6.
Variety
13 Mar 1963.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Ponti-De Laurentiis Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog 2d unit
Gaffer
Best boy
Elec
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Assoc art dir
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Supv ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Antiques for set dec supplied by
Antiques for set dec supplied by
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus score
[Mus] dir
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Audrey Hepburn's makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
General prod mgr
Prod asst New York
Dial coach
Prod asst to Mr. Vidor
Pub
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Voyna i mir (War and Peace) by Leo Tolstoy (Moscow, 1865-69).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
November 1956
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 21 August 1956
Los Angeles opening: 24 August 1956
Production Date:
5 July--mid December 1955 at Cinecittà Studios and Ponti-De Laurentiis Studios, Rome
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
22 August 1956
Copyright Number:
LP7202
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording; Perspecta Stereophonic Sound
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
VistaVision Motion Picture High-Fidelity
Duration(in mins):
208
Length(in feet):
18,628
Length(in reels):
22
Countries:
Italy, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17919
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1805, most of Europe is torn apart by Napoleon Bonaparte’s drive to conquer more and more territory. In Moscow, many young men have joined the army, including Nicholas Rostov, the son of Count Ilya Rostov and his wife Nataly, and the brother of young Petya and the flighty but devoted Natasha. The Rostovs’ friend Pierre, the illegitimate son of the ailing, wealthy Count Bezukhov, has recently returned from Paris and believes that Napoleon is a “cleansing force” who can establish equality and liberty. Despite his pacifism, Pierre wishes Nicholas well and then visits his friend, army officer Dolokhov, a notorious rake. There, the comrades indulge in drinking games but are interrupted by Prince Andrey Bolkonsky, an officer of much finer character than Dolokhov. Andrey informs Pierre that his estranged father, who is near death, is calling for him, and Pierre goes to his father’s mansion, where various relatives snub him. Their derision changes to hypocritical concern, however, after the old count dies and it is discovered that he has accepted Pierre as legitimate and named him his sole heir. The scheming Helene Kuragina immediately sets her sights on Pierre and soon he falls in love with her, while her father, Prince Vasili Kuragin, insinuates himself as the administrator of Pierre’s vast estates. One day, Pierre runs into Andrey in the country as Andrey is escorting his pregnant wife Lise to his father’s house. Andrey, who feels trapped by the clinging Lise, had earlier advised Pierre never to marry, and now Pierre refuses to accept his warnings. After Andrey takes Lise to live with his sister Mary and gruff ... +


In 1805, most of Europe is torn apart by Napoleon Bonaparte’s drive to conquer more and more territory. In Moscow, many young men have joined the army, including Nicholas Rostov, the son of Count Ilya Rostov and his wife Nataly, and the brother of young Petya and the flighty but devoted Natasha. The Rostovs’ friend Pierre, the illegitimate son of the ailing, wealthy Count Bezukhov, has recently returned from Paris and believes that Napoleon is a “cleansing force” who can establish equality and liberty. Despite his pacifism, Pierre wishes Nicholas well and then visits his friend, army officer Dolokhov, a notorious rake. There, the comrades indulge in drinking games but are interrupted by Prince Andrey Bolkonsky, an officer of much finer character than Dolokhov. Andrey informs Pierre that his estranged father, who is near death, is calling for him, and Pierre goes to his father’s mansion, where various relatives snub him. Their derision changes to hypocritical concern, however, after the old count dies and it is discovered that he has accepted Pierre as legitimate and named him his sole heir. The scheming Helene Kuragina immediately sets her sights on Pierre and soon he falls in love with her, while her father, Prince Vasili Kuragin, insinuates himself as the administrator of Pierre’s vast estates. One day, Pierre runs into Andrey in the country as Andrey is escorting his pregnant wife Lise to his father’s house. Andrey, who feels trapped by the clinging Lise, had earlier advised Pierre never to marry, and now Pierre refuses to accept his warnings. After Andrey takes Lise to live with his sister Mary and gruff father, Prince Nicholas Bolkonsky, he leaves for the front and is made an adjutant to the commander of the army, Gen. Mikhail Kutuzov. Later, at the Battle of Austerlitz, Andrey attempts to rally the retreating men by grabbing their banner and rushing the enemy, but he is wounded and left for dead. While surveying the battlefield, Napoleon comes across Andrey and, admiring his courage, orders that he be tended to by his personal physician. In Moscow, when Pierre learns that the Russians are suing for peace, Helene persuades him to return to the country alone so that she can spend the season in the city, welcoming the soldiers. Nicholas comes home safely, much to the delight of Natasha. Meanwhile, Andrey returns to his family, just as Lise goes into labor. Although their son Kolya survives, Lise dies after giving birth, and the grieving Andrey blames himself for not offering her enough comfort and love. As time passes, Helene begins a flirtation with Dolokhov, and when Pierre learns of the rumors about them, he insults Dolokhov and accepts his challenge of a duel. Although Pierre is woefully unskilled with firearms, he manages to shoot and wound Dolokhov, while the soldier’s shot goes wide and Pierre is unharmed. Infuriated that he was provoked into acting in such an uncivilized manner, Pierre separates from Helene and agrees to accompany the Rostovs to their country estate. One day, while they are hunting, they meet Andrey, who is enchanted by Natasha. Later, Andrey dances with Natasha when she attends her first ball and realizes that he wants to marry her. Prince Bolkonsky urges Andrey to wait a year, as Natasha is so young and the Rostovs are not their social equals, but promises to consent if Andrey still wishes to marry her then. With Natasha’s promise to wait for him, Andrey then joins the mission to Prussia, where Czar Alexander and Napoleon sign a peace treaty in June 1807. While Andrey is gone, however, Natasha is seduced by Anatole Kuragin, Helene’s brother, who is as cold-hearted and debauched as his sister. Even though he is secretly married, Anatole persuades Natasha to elope with him, but their plans are foiled by Natasha’s cousin Sonya and Pierre, who threatens Anatole with exposure of his marriage if he ruins Natasha’s reputation. Pierre’s threats come too late, however, and soon all of Moscow is gossiping about Natasha, who falls ill after Andrey ends their relationship. After several months, she begs Pierre to convey her regret to Andrey, and Pierre, who is in love with her, assures her that she is blameless, and that if he were free, he would ask for her hand. Later, in 1812, Napoleon crosses the River Niemen into Russia, despite the peace treaty. Faced with the superiority of the French Army, Kutuzov orders his men to retreat, and as they fall back, the soldiers and peasants set fire to the countryside so that the French will be without provisions. Although his officers protest his strategy, Kutuzov insists that the only way to save Russia is by letting the French wear themselves out. Soon the city of Smolensk is abandoned and Kutuzov decides to make a stand at Borodino. Determined to see war firsthand, to decide if his hatred of it is valid, Pierre travels to Borodino, where he finds Andrey’s camp on the eve of the battle. Although Pierre urges Andrey to forgive Natasha, Andrey states that he cannot. The next morning, Pierre watches with mounting horror as the fighting rages around him and the French slaughter the Russians. Finally realizing that his hero is just a tyrant, Pierre damns Napoleon. Kutuzov then decides to fall back beyond Moscow, leaving the ancient capital city to the French. In Moscow, the Rostovs are among the many families preparing to flee when some wounded Russian soldiers arrive, hoping to be billeted at their home after their departure. Natasha insists that the men cannot be left behind to be captured, however, and they are loaded into the Rostov wagons and taken to a distant village. In Moscow, Napoleon is infuriated to learn that the government has fled, leaving no one behind to surrender to him. Although Pierre lies in wait one day, hoping to assassinate the French emperor, he cannot do it and is taken prisoner. Meanwhile, Natasha has learned that Andrey is among the wounded in their care and reunites with him. While Pierre is befriended by a fellow prisoner, the peasant Platon, the Rostovs take Andrey to a monastery to convalesce. Andrey’s wounds prove fatal, however, and he dies just after Mary and Kolya arrive to bid him farewell. In Moscow, Napoleon realizes that he has been outmaneuvered by Kutuzov, and, fearing being trapped in Russia during the winter, orders his men to retreat. The prisoners, including Pierre and Platon, are forced to accompany the soldiers during their 2,000-mile march, and many of them die. The Russian soldiers follow behind the French, allowing them little rest and picking off stragglers. Petya, who has joined the army against his parents’ wishes, is sent with a dispatch to Dolokhov, ordering his platoon to join the main regiment. Eager for one last fight, Dolokhov insists on attacking the French the next morning and allows Petya to accompany him. Petya is killed during the engagement, and although Pierre is freed, he is too overcome by the boy’s death to rejoice. Dolokhov informs Pierre that Helene has died, and later, joins the other Russian soldiers as they attack the French, who are fleeing back across the Niemen. Later, the Rostovs return to Moscow and find their mansion a burned-out shell, with only one wing remaining intact. Natasha rallies her family to make the best of what they have, however, and as the others settle in, Natasha sadly remembers happier times. She then sees Pierre in the doorway and rushes to embrace him. Telling him that he is like their house, which suffers and shows its wounds but still stands, Natasha kisses Pierre, and they walk together in the garden. +

Legend
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Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.