Last January, I reviewed War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy which felt like a huge accomplishment since it took me six months to read the book. One year later, it didn’t take as long to watch the six-part BBC adaptation, yet I had the same feeling of accomplishment following the lives of the characters through to the end of the story. As a bibliophile, I believe you can’t beat the original material, yet because the BBC adaptation stays fairly true to the story, it felt complementary to reading the book. As if it added to my experience of War and Peace.
* CONTAINS SPOILERS
Over fifteen years, War and Peace portrays the lives and loves of several Russian aristocratic families during the Russian war against France. The book is weighed heavily down by Tolstoy’s ruminations on life, the purpose of humans and the moral complexities of war that add nothing to the story or our understanding of the characters. Some of this writing I actually enjoyed … at first, but Tolstoy goes overboard and has probably lost many readers for boring them to death with these sections.
While the BBC series has been criticized for sexing up certain parts of the story, I thought the creators beautifully capture Tolstoy’s story. The actors cast were wonderful and unlike the book, I could actually follow the large number of characters without getting confused. My only comment is the pace is a little fast in order to cram in as much of the story as possible and I would have happily sat through another two episodes just to have things slow down. But overall, a phenomenal series to watch!
5 Reasons to Watch War and Peace
1. The series presents the epic story in grand fashion with dazzling costumes, enchanting landscapes, gripping action and beautiful actors. People will surely be watching this adaptation for generations to come.
2. If you’ve read the book, you will probably gain an even greater understanding of the story because it truly comes to life. Some of what was lost on me when I read the book, I found watching the series.
3. Even Tolstoy couldn’t deny the soap opera side to his works and there is plenty of drama, scandal and romance in the series to satisfy anyone who enjoys that kind of thing (and I do!).
4. If you read the book, you can review War and Peace for the Book to Movie Challenge. 🙂
5. If you don’t intend to read the 1,400 page literary classic, you’ll get a scrumptious taste of why War and Peace is considered a masterpiece and probably the greatest novel ever written.
Did you watch War and Peace or have you read (or attempted to read) the book?