Sunday, 30 September 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 280: Sun Oct 7

War and Peace (Bondarchuk, 1966-67): Curzon Renoir, 10am

Here is the introduction to a special screening: Curzon Cinemas is proud to welcome À Nos Amours, a new collective founded by filmmakers Joanna Hogg and Adam Roberts dedicated to programming over-looked, under-exposed or especially potent cinema. To find out more about the collective, please check

Roger Ebert has said has said of Sergei Bondarchuk's film, “War and Peace is the definitive epic of all time. It is hard to imagine that circumstances will ever again combine to make a more spectacular, expensive, and splendid movie.”

It took seven years to make (shooting lasted from 1961 to 1967). One battle scene alone required 120,000 extras. 35,000 costumes were needed. Sergie Bondarchuk was nothing if not ambitious. Adapted from Leo Tolstoy’s novel of the same name, A Nos Amours will present the four parts over one glorious day, including three short intervals.

This just in (on Friday 5 Oct): A Nos Amours is delighted to announce that Susan Larsen will introduce War & Peace on Sunday. Susan Larsen, Lecturer in Slavonic Studies at Cambridge University, teaches courses that address both the works of Tolstoy and the history of Soviet and post-Soviet cinema, although not usually in the same lecture! She has written on Russian cinema before and after perestroika, specifically the work of Kira Muratova, Nikita Mikhalkov and Aleksei Balabanov. Her current project on Soviet cinema during the Thaw devotes particular attention to the early career of Sergei Bondarchuk.

Chicago Reader review:
'Sergei Bondarchuk's kitschy, epic 1967 adaptation of the Tolstoy novel is the most expensive movie ever made, and though it can be bombastic and mind-numbing, it's often lively and eye filling. The balls and battle scenes are monumental, and Bondarchuk (who plays the bumbling Pierre, as Orson Welles would have in the 40s if he'd realized his own version with Alexander Korda) moves his camera a lot, incorporating some expressive 60s-style flourishes. Even at 415 minutes (over an hour shorter than the Soviet release) this rarely suggests the vision behind the set pieces or populist polemics; Tolstoy's feeling for incidental detail is more evident in non-Tolstoyan films like The Leopard and The Magnificent Ambersons. This is a landmark in the history of commerce and post-Stalinist Russia, but not cinema.' Jonathan Rosenbaum

You can get a flavour of the film here but this really demands to be seen on the big screen and this is a great opportunity to do just that.

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