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WAR AND PEACE: Blu-ray (Mosfilms, 1961-67) Criterion Collection

Truly, a motion picture of rare and discriminating visual majesty – conceived over seven years in a sort of moody magnificence, skating on the edge of soap opera, and, employing a cast of literally thousands, there has never been – or likely, will ever be - another movie quite like Sergei Bondarchuk’s War and Peace (1961-67). If author, Leo Tolstoy’s titanic novel typified the unique literary form that is the Russian novel, absorbingly particularized, ardent and amorous, then Bondarchuk’s filmic adaptation remains, by far, the most trenchantly – occasionally, slavishly – devout celluloid transmutation of Tolstoy’s magniloquence. Perhaps, due to the novel’s sheer latitude, few movies – even mini-series – had been attempted over the years. But at the height of the Cold War, the Soviet film industry, determined to one-up Hollywood, placed a seemingly unlimited amount of resources in the hands of a 45-year-old actor who had never directed an epic before. Bondachuk’s reputation as a thespi…

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