" War and Peace " verdict by Judge Douglas

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" War and Peace " verdict by Judge Douglas

Postby olichka » Tue Aug 24, 2010 10:24 am

I thought that this review was very fair, in particular as regards the choice of Morag Hood for the role of Natasha. Although she's a fine, sensitive actress, who sings and dances well, at 30 she was way too old to play Natasha ! As a result, she lacked the radiance and the poetic charm that so " intoxicated " and revitalized such a reserved and dry person as Prince Andrey. During that scene where she sings for Andrey, we find ourselves a little incredulous that " when he looks at her ", he " could weep " and " feel as if his life is yet not over ". And when she plays Natasha at 13, she looks ridiculous, bouncing around and laughing like a mad-woman !

In my opinion, they should have picked 2-3 actresses to play the part : a young adolescent to play Natasha at that stage, a 20-22 year-old to play Natasha starting with the ball and until Andrey's death, and then a plump 30-year-old to play her in the Epilogue. Or, they could have at least put some make-up and facial cream on her to reduce the dryness and make her look more youthful and radiant ! And what's with the drab dresses she wore, that only accentuated her age ???

However, the sincere effort that she put into the part is very commendable !

With regard to Alan Dobie, he was a good choice for the part of Andrey and had some excellent scenes ( such as the one described above ), but I felt that his character should have been more developed, with more subtlety and depth. Since he represents Tolstoy's views on death, the death scene should have been played and filmed more dramatically, with the internal monologues more drawn-out and thoughtful. But otherwise, I enjoyed watching Dobie in that part ; I wish he got better direction !

On the whole, I wish there were better choices for the roles of Marya, Nikolai Rostov, the old Bolkonsky ; however, as the series progressed, they became more believable and even funny ( old Bolkonsky ).

My overall comment is that some scenes could have been shortened ( ie. Pierre getting drunk with Ramballe --- who needs that ? ) to allow for more character development ( as in the case of Andrey ).
olichka
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Re: " War and Peace " verdict by Judge Douglas

Postby cdouglas » Tue Aug 24, 2010 1:34 pm

Thanks for the kind words. It's not every day one gets feedback on a review written 2 1/2 years ago. ;-) I admit that I initially cringed a little at the prospect of sitting through a 15-hour adaptation of War and Peace (if it had been a failure, what a long failure to slog through), but I was quite happy to find it both absorbing and rewarding.

Cheers!
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Re: " War and Peace " verdict by Judge Douglas

Postby olichka » Wed Aug 25, 2010 3:13 pm

I also wanted to add my comments regarding Judge Douglas' observations on the absence of the " Russian element "
in the production. I agree with him that they should have tried to give it a much more " Russian " feel : such as playing more Russian music throughout the whole of the series ( as well, I feel that during the scene at the hunting hut, livelier and more characteristic Russian music should have been played ), maybe showing more Russian customs ( again, in the same scene --- show a close-up of the delectable food that was so rhapsodized by Tolstoy ), and toning down the British accent. Perhaps attempting the Russian accent would have been too much for the whole cast, but the British accent could have been softened to a more middle class enunciation, as in the case of the Rostov family and other more provincial aristocrats ( e.g. Akhrosimova). The Bolkonsky family, the tsar, etc. and the other " lofty " aristocrats could keep the more refined accents.

Definitely, for me, the absence of the Russian elements deprived the production of an essential character, spirit and vitality !

I also feel that more appropriate representations should have been chosen for the roles of Marya, Nikolai, Boris and Dolokhov. Angela Down gave a confident and strong performance, but in the book Marya is a plain,timid, and pious woman. Nikolai should have been a much younger and more attractive man. Boris and Dolokhov, also much younger. Anatole Kuragin is much more handsome and virile in the book. And I also feel that the actor palying the old Bolkonsky was exaggeratedly eccentric and sometimes even sounded like some robotic creature from outer space. And what's with the bald head --- just made him look like a Phantomas character from a French movie ! It was rather ridiculous at first !

However, as I said before, as the series progressed, Marya, Nikolai and the old Prince became more believable in their particular and personal interpretations, thanks to a strong interactive abilities of the actors. The same comment can be applied to the majority of the cast. I think that it is this particular ability that made this series so enjoyable, despite some
annoying major and minor glitches.

I definitely recommend this series !
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