Review of "War & Peace" on A&E, Lifetime and History From The TV MegaSite

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"War & Peace" review by Suzanne 1/18/16
Premieres Monday, January 18 9/8c on Lifetime, A&E and History

How do we judge a 6-hour miniseries based on a book that's over 1000 pages long?  I'm going to say that this is a very enjoyable miniseries. If you liked the book, you may feel that they left too much out. If you're looking for big, sweeping themes about War, you may not find it to be as good as the original book, or previous TV or movie adaptions.

I did read the book, back in high school. My dad paid me to read it. He was into paying me to read, for a while, what he felt were important books, so I read this for $10 (which was a lot to me, back then). However, I have to admit that I hated the parts about war and skimmed through them. I remember thinking at the time, "If they only would take out those boring war parts, they would have a really good romance novel here." I guess I'm not the only one who thought that because this miniseries puts way more effort and time into the "peace" or romance part of the story. 

Now, I'm not saying that the story is fluff. It's still very good literature, but it's told very quickly in order to fit it into the time frame. The acting is very good and has many great performers such as Jim Broadbent, Gillian Anderson, Stephen Rea, and the three young stars Paul Dano ("12 Years a Slave"), Lily James ("Downton Abbey") and James Norton ("Grantchester").

The writing is very well done. It's tight, which is not surprising given that it's by Andrew Davies, who wrote the first two "Bridget Jones" movies as well as the Netflix "House of Cards."  They do a very good job with this.

The only flaws I've seen are that there are an awful lot of characters to try to remember, very quickly, and that everyone speaks with a British accent, even though they're supposed to be Russian. Otherwise, I really liked it and found it quite entertaining. Now, remember, though, that this is based on a Russian novel. Don't expect a happy ending.

Check it out this week. I think you'll enjoy it as much as I did.


Four-Week Limited Series Event, War & Peace, Premieres January 18
On Lifetime, A&E and HISTORY

Simulcasting on Lifetime, A&E and HISTORY beginning Monday, January 18, at 9pm ET/PT, the epic War & Peace features an award-winning cast including SAG Award® and Film Independent Spirit Award winner Paul Dano (Love and Mercy), Lily James (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), James Norton (Happy Valley), Oscar®, Golden Globe and BAFTA winner Jim Broadbent (Iris), Golden Globe® winner Gillian Anderson (The X-Files) and others. War & Peace is a four-week event, airing Mondays, 9pm - 11pm ET/PT.

A thrilling tale of love, war, and family, War and Peace is widely considered the greatest novel ever written. Set against in the backdrop of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, War & Peace is the ultimate story of passion and romance, scandal and deceit, following the rise and fall of fortunes of five aristocratic families - The Bezukhovs, Bolkonskys, Rostovs, Kuragins, and Drubetskoys - all jockeying for top position in the waning days of imperial Russia. The dashing Andrei Bolkonsky (Norton) yearns for glory of war, but finds only heartbreak and disillusionment, which may be cured by the lovely young Natasha Rostov (James), who desperately needs to marry well to save her family from financial ruin. Meanwhile, Pierre Bezukhov (Dano) suddenly finds himself in possession of great wealth at the mercy of fortune hunters eager to take advantage of his naiveté.

Produced by BBC Cymru Wales Drama, in partnership with The Weinstein Company, BBC Worldwide/Lookout Point and Lifetime, War & Peace was written by Emmy and BAFTA winner Andrew Davies (House of Cards) and directed by BAFTA nominee Tom Harper (Peaky Blinders). Principal photography took place in Russia, Lithuania and Latvia. War & Peace is Executive Produced by BBC Wales Head of Drama Faith Penhale (A Poet In New York) and Bethan Jones (Sherlock) for BBC Cymru Wales, Andrew Davies, with Harvey Weinstein (Silver Linings Playbook) and Robert Walak (Woman In Gold) for The Weinstein Company, and Simon Vaughan (Parade’s End) for Lookout Point. The Producer is Julia Stannard (The Great Train Robbery).

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