A minor work by Vidor. Rather stiff. The radiance of Audrey Hepburn holds the frame whenever she's in it - particularly in closeups - even if she never quite finds the role. Cardiff's colors and use of deep fields of vision are fantastic (as is Vidor's ability to utilize that space). Key Vidor themes: the regenerative power of the country, small stories cast into the epic drift of history/world events, and
Classic Hollywood film produced by Italian merchants. With Vittorio Gassman and Anita Ekberg. Strange how Audrey Hepburn character doesn’t age a bit in 6 years. I like how Henry Fonda character wanders in the middle of the Borodino battle though. Recommended to movie lovers.
The cast did a great job, especially Fonda and Hepburn. The set pieces were beautiful and the battle scenes were very impressing. Of course there are moments when you feel corners are abruptly turned. Characters disappear like they never existed or are only mentioned in passing. There is no scene from St. Petersburg. Nikolas Rostov is barely there. But still, I thought it was good considering the source material.
A "faithful" adaptation of Tolstoy's sweeping epic is not the sole intent. The joy in being a spectator is Vidor's attempt at forcing a grand russian novel into a hollywood epic. What we get is a series of beautifully composed moving paintings. This film shows an artist at it's core. A fine work filled with success and failure, and yet still a marriage of all things cinematic. fuckin' amazing.
Vidor's adaptation suffers from a script that was rewritten during shooting, bad casting (Henry Fonda as Pierre?!), chaotic working conditions in Italy, and a final cut that was not Vidor's. Yet the film remains an impressive condensation of Tolstoy, filmed with a clarity and grace missing from the often bombastic and vulgar Russian mega-production. I wish Vidor had Bondarchuk's budget and running time.