Criterion Press Release: War and Peace (Blu-ray)

3 Stars
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At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet film industry set out to prove it could outdo Hollywood with a production that would dazzle the world: a titanic, awe-inspiring adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic tome in which the fates of three souls—the blundering, good-hearted Pierre; the heroically tragic Prince Andrei; and the radiant, tempestuous Natasha—collide amid the tumult of the Napoleonic Wars. Employing a cast of thousands and an array of innovative camera techniques, director Sergei Bondarchuk conjures a sweeping vision of grand balls that glitter with rococo beauty and breathtaking battles that overwhelm with their expressionistic power. As a statement of Soviet cinema’s might, War and Peace succeeded wildly, garnering the Academy Award for best foreign-language film and setting a new standard for epic moviemaking.

FILM INFO

  • Sergei Bondarchuk
  • Soviet Union
  • 1966
  • 422 minutes
  • Color
  • 2.35:1
  • Russian, French
  • Spine #983SPECIAL FEATURES
    • New 2K digital restoration, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
    • New interviews with cinematographer Anatoly Petritsky and filmmaker Fedor Bondarchuk, son of Sergei Bondarchuk
    • Two 1966 documentaries about the making of the film
    • Television program from 1967 profiling actor Ludmila Savelyeva, and featuring Sergei Bondarchuk
    • New program with historian Denise J. Youngblood (Bondarchuk’s “War and Peace”: Literary Classic to Soviet Cinematic Epic) detailing the cultural and historical contexts for the film
    • Janus rerelease trailer
    • New English subtitle translation
    • PLUS: An essay by critic Ella Taylor

    New cover by Gary Kelley

    June 25, 2019

Published by

Ronald Epstein

administrator

56 Comments

  1. Thank you for supporting HTF when you preorder using the link below. If you are using an adblocker you will not see link.

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  2. The $49.99 retail price is completely in line with their standard pricing. They usually price single disc releases at $39.99 and double disc sets at $49.99. Multi-title box sets usually go for $100 or more.

  3. Война и мир, trans. Voyna i mir
    Don't forget this was filmed in 70mm and they decided against Kodak for film stock due to costs and opted for their own manufacture. I assume the warlike opening is not there but rather the later passive fields one?

  4. Yes…. 7 hours. I saw it all in one day at AFI Silver about a decade ago. They had a very rare 70mm print of the Russian version (not the cut and dubbed version shown in its USA release in 1968). The spectacle really has no equal and should be seen on the big screen. Yes… there are lulls here and there, but trust me it is worth the effort. This is a remarkable film.

  5. And somewhat off topic———just what has happened to the American release of the restoration of Gance's NAPOLEON? I know the European version came out over a year ago and the US was supposed to come out last year. Anyone have any info on this?

  6. Ronald Epstein

    Is this worth a blind purchase? You know me…so many classics I still have not seen.

    I don't know Ron, you might get bored or disinterested with this seven hour film that you will definitely have to spread over some different sit downs.

  7. Robert Crawford

    I don't know Ron, you might get bored or disinterested with this seven hour film that you will definitely have to spread over some different sit downs.

    Well, one things for certain; it is far easier to view a war from multiple sits in our chairs than it is to be in the actual heat of battle.;)

    Wow, from "Bergman's Cinema" to "War and Peace", Criterion is killing it. And we haven't even reached the spring thaw, yet.:thumbs-up-smiley:

    It's funny how epic releases, such as these, has the opposite effects on us; for rather than our quietly disappearing into these seasonal satisfactions, it only inspires us to regenerate our Wish-LIst, post it and ask for more. Not so for me, though. I refuse. I am not greedy and therefore not a peep from me. Truly, I refuse to bother Criterion who has done so much. I will not burden them with my hopes for "The Circus", or "Bringing Up Baby", or "Ryan's Daughter", or "Sons and Lovers" nor the recent OCN 4K restoration of "It's a Wonderful Life". Nope, not me. I just wouldn't dream of asking any more from our good Criterion; insomuch as to suggest the release of Able Gance's "Napoleon". But other than that one single title, I refuse to post anything – and I mean anything – that has any semblance to a Wish-List, at all. It's just simply not my style.:roll:

  8. Jim*Tod

    Yes…. 7 hours. I saw it all in one day at AFI Silver about a decade ago.

    We were at that same screening. We had a lunch break as I remember. Not that I needed it. I was mesmerized through the whole event. SO much more material than in the '71 Walter Reade version. THIS is the release of the decade for me. Only Greed or Cabiria could come close (if there were a miracle). A true masterpiece. The uninitiated will not regret picking this up.

  9. PMF

    I just wouldn't dream of asking any more from our good Criterion; insomuch as to suggest the release of Able Gance's "Napoleon". 🙄

    Get the UK BFI Napoleon if you are region free. It's dazzling. Same with the French Lobster DeMille King of Kings.

  10. Ed Lachmann

    Get the UK BFI Napoleon if you are region free. It's dazzling. Same with the French Lobster DeMille King of Kings.

    Excellent leads, Ed. With a backlog of desired titles and my not making purchases until late spring, "Napoleon" from UK/BFI – and going Region-Free – is on the front burner. Guess I'll have to live with just the film, itself; as the 3-Disc deluxe set has ling been sold-out. The 2-Disc is, regretfully, without the Carl Davis supplement. As for the French Lobster transfer on "King of Kings", I sense that your recommendation suggests this disc to be superior to the already great looking American BD, to which I already own; so I'll add "King of Kings" to the list with great interests in seeing an even greater level of PQ.
    Criterion's "War and Peace" is an irresistible double-edge sword. No doubts, it's going to look great; but I, like so many of us, will always be wondering what we might have had were the 70mm print (or OCN) still feasible.

  11. PMF

    As for the French Lobster transfer on "King of Kings", I sense that your recommendation suggests this disc to be superior to the already great looking American BD, to which I already own.

    But this is not the Nicholas Ray epic from 1961, but rather the Cecil B. DeMille silent from 1927, which to my knowledge has never before released to Blu-ray, especially in this country.

  12. I don't know how many people here cross over to the blu-ray.com forums but when this movie came up there and it was announced as two BluRay's, there were concerns about compression.

    Here's what I chipped in.

    It would probably help to list the runtimes of the four Voyna i Mir films.

    (hours:minutes, just in case you weren't aware)

    Andrei Bolkonsky 2:27
    Natasha Rostova 1:40
    The Year 1812 1:24
    Pierre Bezukhov 1:40

    Splitting them onto two BluRay's gives us runtimes of 4:07 and 3:04.

  13. I will definitely be blind buying this. I read the novel 5 years ago and subsequently bought both the 1956 Hollywood version and the recent mini-series from a few years ago, but I have yet to watch either. Lazy me! But I will be trying harder to view this one right after I get it.

  14. Tommy R

    I will definitely be blind buying this. I read the novel 5 years ago and subsequently bought both the 1956 Hollywood version and the recent mini-series from a few years ago, but I have yet to watch either. Lazy me! But I will be trying harder to view this one right after I get it.

    If you're looking for a cinematic equivalent to Tolstoy's novel, the Sergey Bondarchuk is the one to watch.

  15. PMF

    As for the French Lobster transfer on "King of Kings", I sense that your recommendation suggests this disc to be superior to the already great looking American BD, to which I already own; so I'll add "King of Kings" to the list with great interests in seeing an even greater level of PQ.

    The French Lobster isn't the 1961 Nick Ray King of Kings but the Cecil B. DeMille 1927 King of Kings (Roi des Rois). I love the '61 one, too, and agree that it's a perfect transfer from WB.

  16. Ronald Epstein

    Is this worth a blind purchase? You know me…so many classics I still have not seen.

    Robert Crawford

    I don't know Ron, you might get bored or disinterested with this seven hour film that you will definitely have to spread over some different sit downs.

    For some, to commit to "War and Peace" as a single-day 7-hour theatrical viewing could understandably be daunting. I mean, you're stuck with the investment of the ticket and there's no turning back. But the greatness of viewing a 7-hour film at home changes the whole deal; or, as Robert had indicated, one can spread it out. And this approach, I feel, would make the "War and Peace" experience no less different than someone attempting to read the book, itself. After all, I have never met a single person who has been able to read Tolstoy's work from start to finish – in a single sit – let alone, in 7 collective hours. Really looking forward to this release.

  17. PMF

    For some, to commit to "War and Peace" as a single-day 7-hour theatrical viewing could understandably be daunting. I mean, you're stuck with the investment of the ticket and there's no turning back. .

    The film was not, of course, originally shown as a one day full-length presentation. It was presented in two parts which meant returning to the theater the following week to pay and see part 2.

  18. Douglas R

    The film was not, of course, originally shown as a one day full-length presentation. It was presented in two parts which meant returning to the theater the following week to pay and see part 2.

    I just had to throw this in (forgive me in advance)…

    “In Soviet Russia, War and Peace film watches you!”

  19. Thank you for supporting HTF when you preorder using the link below. If you are using an adblocker you will not see link.

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  20. john a hunter

    Tried to order it, but forgot Criterion does not ship overseas.
    Will have to wait and look for alternatives nearer launch date.
    Very short sighted.

    I'm not sure where you are you can try deepdiscount that has the pre-order up for $39.03 USD

  21. john a hunter

    Tried to order it, but forgot Criterion does not ship overseas.
    Will have to wait and look for alternatives nearer launch date.
    Very short sighted.

    Short-sightedness has nothing to do with it – but rights issues do. If Criterion had a licensing agreement to sell it in all territories, they'd be making the discs region free and shipping them everywhere. That's why we're stuck with this and this.

  22. OliverK

    War and Peace was orginally released one part at a time:

    • 14 March 1966 (Part I)
    • 20 July 1966 (Part II)
    • 21 July 1967 (Part III)
    • 4 November 1967 (Part IV)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_and_Peace_(film_series)

    So when first released it was not intended to be seen in one day.

    Still I have seen it all in one day – and in 70mm – a few years ago. It was a rather monumental occasion!

    Fascinating and historical clarification, Oliver.
    So, in actuality, "War and Peace" was no differently designed than "Lord of the Rings" was for its theatrical runs of 3 plus hours per chapter. Or "The Godfather" trilogy, for that matter.
    So, once again, this is the beauty of home theater; as we get to decide and custom design our own program;
    and, if we so choose, we can make a marathon of it or opt to break it up.
    Still, if I knew of a theatrical showing of "War and Peace" within my region, I'd be game for the one day challenge.
    I must say, the Criterion price is colossally fair.:thumbs-up-smiley:

  23. john a hunter

    Tried to order it, but forgot Criterion does not ship overseas.
    Will have to wait and look for alternatives nearer launch date.
    Very short sighted.

    Amazon.com is accepting pre-orders.

  24. Brent Reid

    Short-sightedness has nothing to do with it – but rights issues do. If Criterion had a licensing agreement to sell it in all territories, they'd be making the discs region free and shipping them everywhere. That's why we're stuck with this and this.

    Well aware of the rights position and zoning Brent.
    However if TT can release 99.0% of their releases zoned world wide, I feel it is more lack of foresight or will on Criterion's part .Unfortunately we are stuck with it and every one looses out.

  25. Yes, Blu-ray region coding is a PITA. However, it is SO easy to circumvent. Buy a region-free player. They can be had for $100-$200 every day of the week. Problem solved, and you'll be a happier person with one less thing to stress about in your life. 🙂

  26. john a hunter

    But even with a multi zoned player, you still have some companies like the aforementioned Criterion, who will not send you the discs!!
    Problem not solved!

    Don't buy them directly from Criterion. Buy them from another retailer. Practically everyone carries them. Problem solved. 🙂

  27. About a year ago, the Australian government introduced new laws targeting overseas companies who up to then avoided paying tax down under. As a result many companies refuse to send anything here, including Amazon worldwide.
    So finding a replacement supplier has been problem but I'm pleased to say I have found one for W& P although it is not up yet for pre-order.
    Fingers crossed that nothing will change before release.
    Am really looking forward to this .
    A bight spot in an otherwise uninteresting release schedule.

  28. John Hunter are you in Australia? I am and I get US Amazon and DeepDiscount shipments as well as TT/SAE. DD have this up at $39 but if they have a 15% off sale it will bring it down soon, which I am waiting for.

  29. moviepas

    John Hunter are you in Australia? I am and I get US Amazon and DeepDiscount shipments as well as TT/SAE. DD have this up at $39 but if they have a 15% off sale it will bring it down soon, which I am waiting for.

    Thanks for the info.
    Am a few hours south of Sydney.
    Tried Amazon US just over a week ago but when checking out, the site said it could not ship to Australia.
    Also tried their UK site with the same result.
    You must have been lucky !!!!
    If you have a magic formula, please let me know;)

  30. I’m curious as to why it was only scanned at 2k and not 4k, given that it was shot in 70mm.

    Still, this is a really good disc to have. I have the DVD that was released several years ago and the film is quite good. The war scenes are really jaw-dropping in what was captured. I’ll definitely be picking this up.

  31. mBen989

    Source problems, I preseume.

    This was scanned from 35mm. Due to the film stock originally used for War and Peace and these being secondary materials at best one has to assume that a 2k scan captures all the detail that can be found in these elements.

  32. john a hunter

    Thanks for the info.
    Am a few hours south of Sydney.
    Tried Amazon US just over a week ago but when checking out, the site said it could not ship to Australia.
    Also tried their UK site with the same result.
    You must have been lucky !!!!
    If you have a magic formula, please let me know;)

    I'm also in Australia. Amazon US will ship if the items are sold by Amazon, They won't ship items from marketplace sellers. Amazon UK still has Australia shipments disabled.

    But, I have used shipito.com who provide a US address and re-box or relabel and send on to Australia many times now. Allowed me to buy from Criterion, Warner Archive, Kino and ClassicFlix when their sales come up.

  33. theog

    I'm also in Australia. Amazon US will ship if the items are sold by Amazon, They won't ship items from marketplace sellers. Amazon UK still has Australia shipments disabled.

    But, I have used shipito.com who provide a US address and re-box or relabel and send on to Australia many times now. Allowed me to buy from Criterion, Warner Archive, Kino and ClassicFlix when their sales come up.

    What are shipito's charges like? Then there's custome charges as well,

  34. samkydd

    What are shipito's charges like? Then there's custome charges as well,

    I start with accepting there are no *cheap* shipping option that skip paying the GST 🙂

    Add approximately 30% of the disc value for the combo of GST (10%) and shipping and handling fees. That is with a reasonably fast shipping option of week to 10 days with insurance. The ratio gets better the more discs you buy.

    One other option that only works for some titles is to order through amazon.com.au with Prime. Orders over $50 have free shipping on global items and when you factor in GST and exchange rate it can be less than ordering direct.

  35. theog

    I start with accepting there are no *cheap* shipping option that skip paying the GST 🙂

    Add approximately 30% of the disc value for the combo of GST (10%) and shipping and handling fees. That is with a reasonably fast shipping option of week to 10 days with insurance. The ratio gets better the more discs you buy.

    One other option that only works for some titles is to order through amazon.com.au with Prime. Orders over $50 have free shipping on global items and when you factor in GST and exchange rate it can be less than ordering direct.

    Thank you for the advice.

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