May 3, 2021
Not quite as good as the book, but def worth watching for older kids!
Discovered this adaption as I was nearing the end of the novel and couldn’t wait to see it (being a huge fan of the BBC Emma miniseries). First of all: It’s really good. Not quite as good as the book itself, but adaptions almost never are. Solid effort by BBC. If you haven’t read the book, you’re gonna struggle. There are so many characters, and some of them look similar and have similar names. However, if you don’t have time to read the whole massive novel, I recommend reading the plot overview on Sparknotes. Really helps understand who is who, and even if you’re reading the book you might have missed some key details. War and peace is a war movie, so of course there are some battle scenes that are sorta intense but that is the least of this series issues for younger viewers. I’ll try to minimize spoilers but if you want a clean slate watching don’t continue reading this:) A woman dies in childbirth. We hear her screams, but don’t actually see her die. Later, her husband goes in and sees her, dead, with a ton of blood in the bed. Slightly icky to see, but I understand why they put it in. Makes it real. Then the worst part (in my opinion). I remember reading it in the book, but hadn’t realised how appalling it really is. A pair of siblings (girl and boy) have a romantic relationship, we see them kiss and he crawls into bed with her and touches her. Just ew. Yuck. Said woman has very loose morals (so does her brother, just he’s less important). Cheats on her husband constantly, we see her having sex with one of her husbands friends on a table. You don’t actually see anything and it’s a short scene, but not suitable for younger kids. If you want to watch this with kids who shouldn’t see all this, just skim through the first three episodes. The later episodes are much more PG. The woman is pregnant from another man and, feeling overwhelmed and angry, accidentally(?) ODs on a medicine her doctor gave her to have an abortion and dies. Again, you see her dead on a bed with tons of blood between her legs in the white sheets. Several people are shot, killed, have limbs amputated etc. Not bad language that I can remember, except an occasional "bastard". A few scenes strayed from the plot to make it more cinematic and to simplify the plot, especially the end. When a certain guy dies (and we are all heartbroken), his former fiancee talks to him. I don’t think she’s talking to his ghost, more just processing in her own thoughts but if you have a huge problem with that consider yourself warned. Hope you guys like it, it really is quite good. In this review, I’ve focused on the negative elements but there def are a ton of positive elements too! Love, loyalty, bravery, courage, philosophy etc. The novel is a must read for anyone who can, and since you’ve spend dozens of hours reading, you might as well reward yourself with a well-made, cinematic, inspiring miniseries rendition of War and Peace.
Report this review
December 3, 2020
war & peace - great watch for older kiddos
i am a huge fan of war & peace from both the book and the musical adaption (natasha, pierre, & the great comet of 1812), so i'm a little biased when i say how much i LOVE this show. i recommend if you're using the BBC series to introduce your child to war & peace, first make sure they understand who everyone is in relation to each other - it gets a little confusing. content-wise, definitely err on the safe side and determine whether the content is too inappropriate or graphic for your child. there is quite a bit of nudity, sex, and blood. i myself am squeamish, so i do tend to skip the scenes that involve gore (battle scenes, the duel, lise in childbirth). about once an episode, there are nude women, indiscreet sexual acts, and/or incest (but helene and anatole suck anyway). there is a bit of drinking (pierre struggles with alcoholism), but it has never bothered me. war & peace does not exactly have good role models as tolstoy strove for realism in the characters' personalities. we get to see the good and the bad of everyone; even the 'good guys' have some pretty terrible blunders. but it is a charming story about relationships and family and hope for a better future. so anyway yeah w&p is amazing, this is a beautiful show but use caution with younger ones!
Report this review
May 28, 2016
An Admirable Adaptation
I watched this when it first aired on the BBC with no knowledge of Tolstoy's novel or the Napoleonic Wars, and I was captivated from the very beginning. Now, I watched the English version, but I have heard that some of the more graphic scenes were cut when aired in America, so keep that in mind. The BBC is known for their wonderful miniseries, and this certainly did not disappoint. It follows the story of three main characters -- Pierre, Andrei, and Natasha. Natasha is young and naive. She is very kind-hearted and sweet, but her naivety leads her to try and elope, after which we see her mature and realise her mistakes. She does everything she can to both make up for her own wrongdoings and to help her friends. Overall, a wonderful character that kids can both sympathise with and learn from. Pierre is probably the best role model in the show. He starts out as a kind hearted man who gets in with a bad crowd. After coming into a large fortune, he is tricked into marrying an unfaithful and cruel woman. He resorts to alcoholism to deal with his unhappiness as his friends and wife turn against him. Eventually though, he realises that doing good for other people is his calling and he does his best to become a good man (a bit likeJean Valjean in Les Mis). Andrei is a bit of a boring character in my opinion. He treats his first wife very coldly, even though she is pregnant, and goes off to war to achieve glory or death. After experiencing war, he realises he was wrong, but his first wife dies in childbirth. He does eventually find true love, and learns how to forgive those who have wronged him (without giving too much away), but I'm not a huge fan of him. Marya, although not one of the main characters, is a wonderful role model. She is kind, patient, and understanding. She is treated very poorly by her father, but she eventually receives a happy ending. Children under 12 definitely won't understand it or get the full experience. It's very much an exploration of morality, life, and society during this period. I think there's a lot of beauty in it, as the characters find peace and love during times of war and hardship, but much of this would be lost on younger viewers. For anyone older than this, I think it's easy to follow. It's sumptious, and gripping. In fact, it inspired me to read the original novel, which I definitely would not have understood if I hadn't watched the show first. All of the very bad characters get their just desserts in the end, but even they are shown to have good qualities. Despite all the terrible things they've done, you end up feeling sorry for them in the end. I think it's nice for children to see that actually there is good in everybody and that everyone is deserving of compassion. There is one scene of incest, there is some brief nudity in other scenes, but there are certainly no prolonged sex scenes. The characters all drink in social situations, and one of the characters drinks to cope with his unhappy life, but he eventually stops this. As implied by the title, there are scenes of war. There is battle in which people are shot, stabbed, and killed. This will not be disturbing for people over 12 because it is no worse than other battle scenes. The only scene that I think would disturb some viewers, regardless of age, is a scene where a young man has his leg amputated following a battle. He is evidently in pain and it can be hard to watch. Children and adults alike may want to cover their eyes for this bit. The only thing I really disliked was the costumes. Many of them had an almost Art Deco style despite the fact that it was set in the early 19th century. That's just me nitpicking though. I just love that none of the characters are perfect. They're all flawed and human, but they learn from their mistakes, making them great role models. All in all, a fab adaptation.
Report this review
February 15, 2016
I've seen perhaps too many historical dramas to count, but this has to be one of the best of them, and certainly the best mini-series I've seen. The characters are impeccably developed, as are relationships. And when I say all of the characters, I truly mean all of them. Perfectly captivating, with a good mix of dialogue and action. The costume design, scenery, and set design are magnificent, and captures the world of the imperial Russian aristocrats with such loving detail. Often in BBC you find a lot of overacting, but this show was exempt from that stereotype. My only complaint about the actors was that most of them did not look Russian, and therefore it was a bit hard to see them singing in Russian or speaking of the tsar, because they looked more fit for English society. Beware of what platform you see this on: American TV channels did not show near the amount of graphic scenes as English TV did. I have only watched the American version, in which some of the more graphic details were cut out. There is little drinking and gambling. Violence is perpetual, but the only scenes in which it is graphic occur in the first episode (for only a moment) and the last episode (for about the first fifteen minutes). There are also two scenes in which two different women bled to death from birth/miscarriage, which may disturb younger viewers. One character in particular has many affairs, and she is shown sexually with several men, including her brother. These scenes are not prolonged, but I would not recommend children under 12 to view them. She is shown with her clothes off at one point, but none of her private body parts are shown. She is known as a despicable and shameful character for her affairs, and is not glorified in any way. Another character is shown to have been with a prostitute. And none of this was done to be risqué or bawdy, but to depict Tolstoy's character, and accurately depict this time period, in which prostitution was normal, and sexual talk was shunned but sexual actions certainly were not. Swearing was very limited. I recommend this for all.