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Tolstoy's novel gets a high-profile retelling, but there's not a lot under the hood of this 2007 miniseries....
Acorn Media / 425 Minutes / 2007 / Unrated / Street Date: September 24, 2013
Money has been thrown at this 2007 miniseries adaptation of War and Peace – even if you only cozy up to this TV-on-DVD box set hungry for some opulent costumes and elaborate sets, you’ll absolutely get your money’s worth. Underneath the glittering veneer here, though, is a surprisingly limp presentation of Tolstoy’s epic narrative. There are liberties taken, character motivations glossed over, story arcs thrown out – of course one cannot shove thousands of pages of literature into a few hours of TV, but this War and Peace isn’t even a solid shell of the book.
We get recognizable folks like Malcom McDowell and Brenda Blethyn who breathe some good old fashioned starpower into the mix, but the love and battle at the core of War and Peace never finds steady ground in director Robert Dornhelm’s vision. What’s frustrating is that it truly seems as though all the elements are right here at his and his crew’s disposal. It simply feels like the screenplay doesn’t take full advantage of them.
Then one is pressured into pondering the ‘Why not Blu-ray?’ question when it comes to Acorn’s new release. Making an endeavor like this one available is always laudable, of course, but it’s hard to fully get behind a standard-def release, especially one that would theoretically sparkle as an HD experience. That being said, however, a Blu-ray existence would only forgive a handful of War and Peace’s sins. This miniseries is never outright awful, but aside from an art department showing off some serious skills, it doesn’t jump to life like it should.