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Movie of the Week - War and Peace (1966)


Alright, you cinephiles. This is your chance and alert to check out a sort of forgotten bit of epic film making. This month, TCM has been doing their annual 31 days of Oscar showing movies that won or were nominated for different Academy Award categories. Looking ahead at the schedule, there was one movie that made me wonder if there was a mistake on their schedule which I'm going to declare this week's movie.  8)

The reason I thought it was an error was that the film seemed to take up 7 hours on the schedule and that didn't seem right to me. I knew the Audrey Hepburn / Henry Fonda version wasn't that long. It turns out that this is not that film. That movie was made in like 1956. This was a version of the story made by the Soviet Union and, although there doesn't seem to be a fully accurate accounting for the cost of the movie, it is believed to be the most expensive movie ever made based on various calculations.

Looking up the movie, I came across these two articles giving some various history and background on the movie: One of film’s greatest epics is a 7-hour adaptation of War and Peace. Really. and You really should devote 7 hours to watching ‘War and Peace’. Well, if you say so...

Personally, I've always been a fan of when Hollywood went mad for Epic films into the 50s and 60s. Ben-Hur, Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago. So, my interest was already piqued based on that. I've always wondered what the story of War and Peace is like and this probably seems like a good way to become pretty familiar with it. I love movies shot on 70mm so hopefully most of the movie and restoration is at that resolution. I'm not sure if there will be gaps or not of that resolution from the details mentioned in those articles on the restoration of them film but guess I'll find out.

The film won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film at one of the late ceremonies in the 60s. Obviously, there will be subtitles but that doesn't bother me and if you are a cinephile also then it shouldn't bother you. If I hadn't heard of this movie before then there's a good chance you hadn't either. If you want to check it out, TCM is playing it in the early hours of March 31 like 3:30 AM EST so set your PVR. Otherwise, you'll have to try and track it down some other way.

You have to wonder if it would have been as successful if it had gone by its original title, "War, What Is It Good For?".

I think this is one real grand old fashioned epic movie, in basically every way imaginable.
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