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War and Peace
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Book to Film > War and Peace 2016

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message 1: by Marie (last edited Jan 18, 2016 03:49PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marie Williams | 573 comments Mod
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Discussion for the 2016 miniseries of War and Peace.

Promotional Photos

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Characters

Pierre Bezukhov - Paul Dano

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Natasha Rostova - Lily James

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Andrey Bolkonskey - James Norton

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Dolokhov - Tom Burke

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Vassily Kuragin - Stephen Rea

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Helene Kuragina - Tuppence Middleton

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Anatole Kuragin - Callum Turner

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Anna Pavlovna - Gillian Anderson

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Sonya Rostova - Aisling Loftus

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Nikolai Rostov - Jack Lowden

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Count Ilya Rostov - Adrian Edmonson

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Countess Natalya Rostova - Greta Scacchi

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Prince Nikolai Bolkonskey - Jim Broadbent

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Marya Bolkonskaya - Jessie Buckley

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Boris Mikhailovna - Aneurin Barnard

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Anna Mikhailovna - Rebecca Front

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Scenes :


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 98 comments Lovely!

I can't wait to see it!

I don't have TV/cable, so I've asked sis to record for me.


QNPoohBear | 460 comments I set the DVR but I don't know if I'll watch yet until I'm farther along in the book. I was intrigued by the clip of the old film shown at the Winter Olympics in 2014 so I look forward to seeing the new version.


``Laurie (laurielynette) This will be a belated Christmas present. Can't wait!


Marie Williams | 573 comments Mod
Cast photos are up, especially the costumes, cause we all know what's really the most important thing... I have some scene photos I'll post as the series progresses, I don't want to ruin too much of the movie, or the book, for anyone.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 98 comments When I read W&P, I envisioned Natasha with dark hair and Helen Kuragina with blond hair.


Marie Williams | 573 comments Mod
Andrea (Catsos Person) is a Compulsive eBook Hoarder wrote: "When I read W&P, I envisioned Natasha with dark hair and Helen Kuragina with blond hair."

That's because you're correct, Natasha is dark haired. Andrew Davies has already started... Honestly, I think it's because lining overlapped, and Lily was under contract to appear in the Downton Christmas episode, and required to have blonde hair.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 98 comments I'm very pleased with the costumes.

Prince Nikolai Bolkonsky is a nut job and the actor portraying him looks sufficiently crazy...

The actor who portrays Prince Andrei Bolkonsky looks pissy and peevish just as I imagined him and how he really is.


Nikki Morton | 32 comments I'm so excited to watch this, but I want to watch the parts I've already read, so I'll make sure I'm ahead in the book. The costumes look fabulous in the photos!!


message 10: by Sara (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) I finished the book today...just in time to watch this without any worries. Can't wait.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 98 comments Ms M have you seen the P&P with Sir Laurence Olivier as Darcy? I was so traumatized by those costumes that I couldn't watch very much of it.

I thought Lizzie was dressed as Little-Bo-Peep! And that headgear for Bennet girls! Shudders!!


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 98 comments Ms M, when I saw those horrid dresses and bonnets, I was certain they were a figment of someone's warped imagination in the costume department rather than based on anything from ANY period in history. Just horrid.

It's nearly 9:30 pm in my part of the world. Now I'll be kept from a good night's rest from thinking of those Atrocious costumes.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 98 comments It's not your fault Ms M. I'm the one who mentioned those terrible costumes.


Marie Williams | 573 comments Mod
Sara wrote: "I finished the book today...just in time to watch this without any worries. Can't wait."

How did you like it, Sara?


Marie Williams | 573 comments Mod
Andrea (Catsos Person) is a Compulsive eBook Hoarder wrote: "It's not your fault Ms M. I'm the one who mentioned those terrible costumes."

Oh god, werent those awful? The whole thing was a hot mess even Laurence Olivier couldn't save. They did the same thing with Wuthering Heights, but at least it was a good movie, even if a less than faithful Hollywood code version.


Marie Williams | 573 comments Mod
Sorry, I'm technically an art historian (god, that sounds pretentious...) with a minor degree in western humanities focused on Europe and Russia, and I love the costumes. They're gorgeous. And I'm so thrilled to see film costumes that even hint at French Directoire/Guillotine style, I'm willing to look the other way. I haven't been this happy since the first images of Caroline Bingley's Netherfield ballgown in P&P 2007, when Joe Wright decided to admit the entirety of the early nineteenth century didnt look like a British lamb chop. Sorry, Directoire is one of my favourite styles, but I don't at all care for late Goergian/Regency.

Helene might be a vile human being, but I want everything in her wardrobe. Especially the white gown at the beginning and the red evening coat. Asymmetrical necklines and off the shoulder weren't as common, but they were popular in France at the time. There are a few portraits that show women in gowns very similar to Helene's dinner gown (view spoiler) and of women wearing their gowns off shoulder.

I do agree that Anna's (Gillian Anderson) lavender gown at the opening party was a complete miss. I would love to see more silk, satins, oppulent and authentic fabric choices, but frankly it's unrealistic. Outfitting the soldiers must have cost a small fortune, numerous battle scenes that are incredibly expensive to fim, expensive ball scenes, and filming on location in Russia and a few scenes in Lithuania and Romania where larger spaces were needed. There's a massive cast, with quite a few large name actors, and tons of extras. They could hardly spend a quarter of the buget on a few characters gowns.


Marie Williams | 573 comments Mod
As for the series, so far I'm pleased. It did feel a little rushed in the beginning, but I think Andrew Davies was going for the feel of Joe Wright's Anna from a few years ago, with the fast paced, staged idea of Russian society that Tolstoy was famous for. Once it got to Pierre's inheritance the story seemed to settle into itself, and it's a lot better than I had been expecting. Andrew Davies is usually a hit or a miss for me, so I've kind of had my teeth clenched over this one.

The settings and buildings are beautiful. I've always wanted to go to Russia, and this isn't making it any easier. I'm really looking forward to next week now that they've gotten into the storyline.


message 18: by Sara (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) I'm not a historian, so I am so far quite pleased with the production. My emphasis is on two areas...do they stick to Tolstoy's story and are the characters true to his painting of them. I was so happy that Pierre is not the least bit handsome, that Andrei is a tad stuffy, that Bolkonsky is eccentric and weird, I can accept Lily as Natasha despite the coloring being all wrong because she portrays her well, and the Kuragins are all right on target, particularly Helene.

I have seen so many wonderful works butchered by the cinema. Wuthering Heights and the Count of Monte Cristo dissected, rewritten and served up to an audience who does not know the difference. I am always happy when an effort is made to convey the story as the author wrote it.

I agree with Marie that the settings and the landscapes are fantastic. The opening visuals alone set me in the right mood. I am looking forward to seeing the characters develop and see how they handle the more complicated nuances of Andrei and Pierre's personalities.


message 19: by Marie (last edited Jan 19, 2016 07:23AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marie Williams | 573 comments Mod
The Just-About-Average Ms M wrote: "I appreciate your fervor, Marie, and your in-depth explanations of the costumes, scenes, and other aspects of this production. Many people already agree with your assessment.

However, I don't care..."


Hey now, let's go easy on self-published authors around here, I'm going to be one as of this year. I'm being sarcastic, I agree with you, it is unfortunate what those do to the industry, and make it harder for everyone. It shouldn't be excused.

Now, the historical inaccuracies do bother me, more than costumes or any of that type of thing. I'm a huge fan of Tolstoy, and knowing the time he took pouring over historical accounts of the Napoleonic Wars, and weaving his characters and personal experiences in the Crimea along with it, you would think Davies could do at least do that well. Frankly the reason I'm willing to give so much a pass is because of my low expectations where Davies is concerned - I'm not really a fan.

Sorry to lose you from the discussion, it's nice having other history enthusiasts around. Though if you think this is bad, you should have heard me last year watching Sons of Liberty while the HISTORY Channel assaulted the American Revolution.


message 20: by Marie (last edited Jan 19, 2016 07:41AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marie Williams | 573 comments Mod
Sara wrote: "I was so happy that Pierre is not the least bit handsome..."

Oh god, Sara, I'm dying here. Poor Paul Dano... I get what you mean, though, they're always trying to make everyone into Hollywood images instead of allowing the characters the author envisioned. Did you see Sons of Liberty? I shouldnt be having the type of thoughts I was having about Sam Adams... It was very conflicting. ;)

I agree, the characters come across really well from the subtleties of the novel. I'm also looking forward to how they continue Andrei's storyline, and how Pierre's character is handled. Also, how Lily grows in her version of Natasha.


message 21: by Sara (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) I suppose I have the advantage of never ever thinking the movie will be as good as the book. That's why I like to read books before I see movies...so I will know all the good things that are missing. Lower expectation equals less disappointment.

In order to enjoy this, I have to suspend my disbelief in a way that I do not do when I am reading. Funny, because you are right that historical accuracy is paramount and I NEVER excuse a historical inaccuracy in a book.

I started Sons of Liberty and abandoned it right away. I guess I object more to having my own history butchered than to seeing Napoleon's butchered. Yikes.

(view spoiler)


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 98 comments MS M, From my reading, I quite imagined Prince Andrei with ONLY a pained look on his face on a good day.


``Laurie (laurielynette) Marie wrote: "As for the series, so far I'm pleased. It did feel a little rushed in the beginning, but I think Andrew Davies was going for the feel of Joe Wright's Anna from a few years ago, with the fast paced,..."


It's been awhile since I've read the book or saw the 70's W&P miniseries and I was wondering if the Czar was this incompetent in the book. I don't recall that at all and remember the Czar as being a heroic character and not second guessing his generals.

Since it's been so long since I've read the book and forgotten quite a few things I'm enjoying this new version so far. I do love the actress playing Natasha.


message 24: by Sara (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) The Tsar was clueless in the book. Kutuzof only accepted the ultimate control of the army provided that the Tsar and his aide were not involved in leading in the field.


``Laurie (laurielynette) Hmmm, if the general only accepted his position which included total control of the army then why did the Tsar tell him what to do on last night's episode and the general obeyed even though he knew it was disastrous?
I couldn't remember if the Tsar had any type of military experience before this battle either.
Thanks for the info Sara :D


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 98 comments Ms M, not TMI at all.

Thank you for taking time to share your knowledge.


``Laurie (laurielynette) The Just-About-Average Ms M wrote: "Alexander's military experience was limited to choosing which fanciful uniform to wear on Tuesday, and which medals went best with hs choice. The historical records him as a buffoon as regards the ..."

Thanks so much Ms M for sharing your knowledge with us and please don't hesitate to enlighten us when necessary.
Watching War and Peace is a great opportunity to learn more about that era as well as relax and enjoy the story.
Watching the incompetence of the Tsar and Francis I last night I thought surely nobody could be this stupid.
Obviously Kutusov knew what he was doing and had much experience. I hope the Tsar will learned from his mistakes in future episodes and allow Kutusov to do his job.


Marquise The Just-About-Average Ms M wrote: "Pierre looks like a sixth-year fugitive from Gryffindor"

Just chiming in for a second to say this made me laugh out loud, because that's exactly what I thought of when I saw the promotional photos, word for word! :D

As to the miniserials itself, I think I'll be skipping it. The portrayal of the Kuragin siblings was the first alarm bell and is worrying enough already, to me. I'd read elsewhere about that scene between Anatole and Helena the other day and they were criticising it as "Game of Thrones-ing" Tolstoy's work, and when GOT is mentioned in such a negative context, it's always a red flag, it means needless use of sexuality for shock and titillation takes priority over good storytelling.


message 29: by Erik (new)

Erik (airxx) | 112 comments I'm going to be so bold as to be a bit contrarian here. I think too much is being made of the minor inaccuracies and there is a failure to appreciate what these types of miniseries achieve.

First an foremost, the show has been created for entertainment, not actual education. Tolstoy himself made it clear W&P was not a historical documentation of the times, but merely a piece of literature (a novel even). I hate using "merely" like that for such a great work, but it was clear he was trying to capture the spirit and feeling of the period... not provide an accurate telling of history.

Second, I would wager a solid 99.99% of the world has no clue about the fabrics worn in 1805, or if the buttons should have been silver rather than gold. Or care for that matter. The makers realize this of course and know getting things 90% right is going to be good enough. I know many of you can't help the cringing, for even I do it frequently, but we can't let it dominate the viewing and ruin an otherwise decent show.

Finally, I'd say that everyone who has read Tolstoy has in their own minds how a character looked, and perhaps even have some Hollywood actor mentally assigned the role. Having viewed Bondarchuk's version many, many times, I admit that I had some ill feelings about the casting as it didn't align with how Bondarchuk had portrayed the characters. They didn't feel Russian enough. This said, I have absolutely no problem with accepting this cast now. They seem decent so far, and it did not take me long to get immersed into the plot, forgetting my misgivings.

The whole point of these series is to introduce the 99% to a great piece of literature and entertain the masses while providing a basic introduction/ education of an important time in history. Shows like the Tudors or Borgias have proven that semi-intelligent TV can be made successfully. Complain all you want about the costumes or inaccuracies, but frankly would you rather watch "Dancing with the Stars" instead? If a show manages to get even a few folks to get curious and go pick up a book to read about the actual history (and this happens! My wife who is historically clueless has fallen victim at least 3 times to shows causing her to read a real history book), then I applaud the efforts.


message 30: by Andrea AKA Catsos Person (last edited Jan 20, 2016 07:31AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 98 comments No Erik, I most definitely would not rather watch "Dancing with the Stars" (or Real Housewives of Milwaukee!).


message 31: by Sara (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) OK, I'm out of here. Going to watch and enjoy the series if I can. I loved the book and I'm glad I know where the series goes wrong, but I must agree that it is far better than much of what entertains the masses and it isn't 100% wrong, so someone who knows nothing (and I know a lot of those people) will at least know that Napoleon invaded Russia and that there was a lot of suffering and some pretty massive changes that came as a result of that.


``Laurie (laurielynette) Erik wrote: "I'm going to be so bold as to be a bit contrarian here. I think too much is being made of the minor inaccuracies and there is a failure to appreciate what these types of miniseries achieve.

First..."


Erik, I'm just so thankful to have something like this to watch on the TV even though it's far from perfect I'll admit. Gillian Anderson's gown was hideous so I can understand the complaints about that but I'd watch her in anything.

This Natasha is just as I've imagined her, a vivacious, high spirited young woman with beautiful, big brown eyes.

Watching these historical miniseries on Masterpiece Theatre when I was growing up in the 60's and 70's led to my life long interest in history and reading historical fiction. So if a young tween or teen happens to watch this series and decides to tackle the book it's all good as far as I'm concerned.


``Laurie (laurielynette) Sara wrote: "OK, I'm out of here. Going to watch and enjoy the series if I can. I loved the book and I'm glad I know where the series goes wrong, but I must agree that it is far better than much of what enterta..."

I hope you'll change your mind Sara, I'd love to hear your thoughts...


Marie Williams | 573 comments Mod
I would just like to say that all opinions, whatever they may be, are welcome in this group so long as we maintain a mature and respectful dialogue. I'm certain it's a problem we won't have, but I don't want anyone to feel that their contribution - whether as an educational experience and historical debate, or in simply enjoying this series for what is - is unwelcome.

On a side note, Pierre shall forthwith be known as the sixth-year fugitive from gryffindor that is not the least bit handsome...


message 35: by Marie (last edited Jan 21, 2016 09:10AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marie Williams | 573 comments Mod
Andrea (Catsos Person) is a Compulsive eBook Hoarder wrote: "...Real Housewives of Milwaukee!"

Please tell me that's sarcasm, Andrea... We don't need anymore cities.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 98 comments It was sarcasm!


message 37: by Marie (last edited Jan 21, 2016 10:47AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marie Williams | 573 comments Mod
Erik wrote: "I'm going to be so bold as to be a bit contrarian here. I think too much is being made of the minor inaccuracies and there is a failure to appreciate what these types of miniseries achieve.

First..."


Welcome to our little group, Erik. I'm glad you decided to join the discussion, and feel free to join our book discussion as well. We're currently in the second week of reading War and Peace.

I also have to try and not allow my cringing to ruin things for me. If you enjoy the Revolutionary War, TURN on AMC is not a bad series. I happened to be watching the first episode with my mother, and when I started on the inaccuracy of the soldiers uniforms being several years off, my mother told me if I was going to start again we were turning it off.

I do agree on introducing the masses to literature. As a writer on Wattpad - a site inundated with teenagers - I can't tell you how many count Jane Austen as the only classics they've read, and many of them because of the 2007 version of Pride and Prejudice, which was massacred by fans of Austen in the reviews. I hope your wife falls victim to this one as well, if she hasn't already. Tolstoy is one of my favorites.


Marie Williams | 573 comments Mod
Andrea (Catsos Person) is a Compulsive eBook Hoarder wrote: "It was sarcasm!"

Thank heaven for that!


message 39: by Marie (last edited Jan 21, 2016 10:47AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marie Williams | 573 comments Mod
As for everything I missed yesterday, Ms M put it perfectly. Yes, Alexander was a fool, Francis was a joke, and Kutusov could have saved everyone a lot of trouble, had they only listened to common sense and reason.

Just in case it needs to be cleared up, I've seen a couple of people, here and other sites, mention Helene and Anatole. The incestuous relationship is in the book, only alluded to very deep in between the lines. It's been heavily debated since the novel's serialization, an caused a small shock for some of its original readers. No great uproar or anything, but some were surprised. Tolstoy did so, obviously as a moral commentary, but also some feel as a personal opinion on the aristocratic Kurakin family, (how's that for thinly veiled allusion) they're based of off. As you may imagine, the family was quite pleased...

I however, can't get behind the Helene and Dolokhov sex on the table scene. I know they were intending to show that the affair was openly flaunted in front of Pierre and the public (and for shock value) but for the love of all that's decent, just put them in a room.


Marquise Marie wrote: "The incestuous relationship is in the book, only alluded to very deep in between the lines. It's been heavily debated since the novel's serialization, an caused a small shock for some of its original readers."

In the critique I read, the point wasn't the incest itself or its existence, because everyone knows it's in the book. The issue was with the execution of it, how it was made explicit for the show whereas in the book it's much subtler and more innuendo than spelled out in neon letters. I don't know if you're familiar with the HBO show Game of Thrones, but that one has an infamous reputation for using sex for shock and titillation in ways that often run contrary to the book, obliterating any subtlety or nuance or even context. The specific scene that prompted the comparison is one between the Lannister twins, Jaime and Cersei, who do have an incestuous relationship and everyone knows that, it's in the books and very explicitly so. But this scene in particular the show executed horribly and wrongly: they depicted Jaime actually raping his sister in an scene that in the book is meant to be disturbing but consensual sex, and they excused it officially as an editing mistake for they wanted to show it was consensual but bad editing made it look like a rape. Now, how does one accidentally film a rape I'll never understand, but the case was that the scene was the second of three such scenes that caused a lot of controversy about the show's handling of hot topics.

Applying that to "War & Peace": has the Helene/Anatole supposed incest ever been made explicit in any other adaptation previously? Explicit like in this one? Not that I'm aware of, so correct me if it has happened. And yet, since GOT made it possible for the hitherto taboo topic of incest to be depicted in big mainstream TV dramas, this adaptation sure can do it now. But the issue is that they did it explicitly when in the book it isn't, and making it like that isn't strictly necessary. Hence the "Game of Thrones-ing" comparison and why the interpretation of having done it for titillation has a basis, for it means this hamfisted execution could've been done subtly and respecting how it's portrayed in the book, it not being necessary or key for the plot, instead of going all-out obvious as sunlight for even the most distracted viewer to catch.


message 41: by Marie (last edited Jan 21, 2016 04:14PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marie Williams | 573 comments Mod
Marquise wrote: "Marie wrote: "The incestuous relationship is in the book, only alluded to very deep in between the lines. It's been heavily debated since the novel's serialization, an caused a small shock for some..."

Oh, my post wasn't necessarily in response just to yours, I was merely surprised by the confusion I've seen in some places over it. I was reading comments from the early British showings, where several people said they had missed it in the book - I'm not entirely certain how, but I'll accept that. One commenter was vehement that it did not occur in the story art all, because this was written in and about the 1800's. I'll keep my opinion of that one to myself.

Honestly, I think they were just trying to drum up publicity with the "shocking Game of Thrones" references. I was surprised by how tastefully it was handled, and you're left to wonder whether they're actually are sexually involved, or it's left at highly inappropriate flirtations. With all the press their relationship has received, I was expecting an actual sex scence between them.

To be fair, the only version of the film I've seen is the one with Audrey Hepburn, and they would never have gotten away with mentioning that type of thing. I started the film version from a few years ago with Clemence Posey, but I didn't like it, and didn't get that far. I know Andrea and Laurie have mentioned a 1960's miniseries, so they may know of that one. There is a well known Russian version, but it's not available in English, and I can muddle through reading some Russian, but I don't understand it well enough conversationaly to listen to a film without subtitles. So I'm not sure how it has been handled in all previous versions.

You just have to remember that in film you don't have the benefit of internal dialogue, which all mentions of their relationship in the story are. You have the choice of either creating a scene where someone gossips to Pierre or others about them, or you show them in some sort of inappropriate behavior. Every modern writer and film maker has beat into them, never tell what you can show. Of course the film industry runs with it and turns everything into a gratuitous mess... I kind of understand from experience. There is a sexual relationship in my book that's neither shown, nor openly voiced by any of the characters. If it were made into a film ( you know, in the fantasy world where someone would actually produce my book...) you would have to show the scene in some way for the sake of those who had not yet read it.

Ah, Game of Thrones... The bane of my existence. I wanted so badly to love it. It's everything I should have liked, politics, war, attempts at power... I watched the first three and hated it. I tried to read the first book and couldn't get along with George Martin's writing style. It's something I'll probably try again some day. But I have heard how far the new writers have taken it from the books. If I were Martin, I wouldn't allow it, but I guess he's laughing all the way to the bank.


Marquise No worries, Marie. I didn't think you meant my comment, I just wanted to clarify it in case I'd not expressed well what the critique was about. Thanks for clarifying it further for me as well!

Doesn't surprise me that comments of that kind would prompt you to say that. There's plenty of people that will miss subtle stuff in fiction as there are those who will catch incredibly subtle allusions nobody else seems to have noted. It's especially notorious with regard to sexuality and romance; and it's not clear to me how much is due to not paying attention to the text and how much to being uncomfortable with said topics.

You just have to remember that in film you don't have the benefit of internal dialogue, which all mentions of their relationship in the story are.

I keep hearing that all the time, and whilst it's true that the visual medium demands more explicit depictions by its very nature, it's also true that this argument about the inability to show internal thoughts and mental monologuing has become as of late an excuse for bad adaptative decisions, for making changes that either backfired or weren't in the spirit of the original scene. The same GOT show I mentioned has legions of defenders that use this same argument, and I'm really wary of taking that in if not on a per case basis. I haven't seen how exactly the scene played in W&P as to judge for myself, so I'll have to take your word for it. However, I still can't but wonder if it was really necessary to make it explicit if it's not a key plot point? Would Anatole's character be harmed if it were overlooked, or enhanced if shown? Cannot the Kuragins be portrayed as just as morally depraved as they are supposed without that, since in the other adaptation it wasn't done and it doesn't seem to have suffered for it? Not to be argumentative here, merely a matter that keeps making the rounds in my head.

It's something I'll probably try again some day. But I have heard how far the new writers have taken it from the books.

I am a fan from the pre-show era, and I'd recommend for your peace of mind that you do not watch the show! :) If you ever feel like giving it another chance, the books would be worthier of your time.


message 43: by Erik (new)

Erik (airxx) | 112 comments Fear not, I don't scare easy : )

I sometimes dislike liberties taken by directors when they put to film any kind of written story. But I accept they have the right to do so. Film is a lot like music; Mozart and Beethoven created wonderful works, yet others in more recent days have chosen to create variations of those works to turn them into a little bit of their own work.

I think I'll generally be pleased with the mini-series, in spite of every inappropriate musket, shako, and cannon I see. Those nitpicky details are just not that important.

Sex sells today, so that is why we end up seeing more of it on TV. I'm sure there was all kinds of sex going on between the lines of Tolstoy's works, unwritten yet implied. The table scene was over the top, yet American audiences tend to need a scene to slap them in the face to get "it". Too much ADD in our times.


message 44: by Sara (last edited Jan 22, 2016 09:48AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) I was very interested in this conversation about the implied incest. I wonder how much difference the translation might make on this. My translation is from 1949 and done by Princess Alexandra Kropotkin. I promise you there isn't a single line that would imply incest. They are shown to be complicit in their immorality and disregard for others and a pair of co-conspirators in intrigues that involve sexuality with others, but there is never the inference at all that they are doing anything inappropriate together. I am pretty good at reading between the lines (having read a lot of early works that had to do that and coming from a time myself in which you couldn't say it outright but had to mask it (think of all those rock-and-roll hits of the 60/70s), it isn't there. Makes me truly wish I could read Russian and know exactly what Tolstoy intended. Nice to have this conversation and realize I might be missing some of the intended innuendo.

BTW, I laughed out loud at modern audience needing to be hit over the head...I think that is too true. And, I might be the only person on the planet who hasn't ever seen GoT, although I know something of it from all the chatter it has produced.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 98 comments Sara, you may have a point about translation.

I don't recall reading anything that could be construed as incest for my 2013 group read of it. Prior to that reading, I read a paperback that I read several times as a teen. I freely admit my understanding was not good for some of the things I chose to read as a high schooler.

Also, I haven't seen GoT either. ;)


Marquise Sara wrote: "I wonder how much difference the translation might make on this. My translation is from 1949 and done by Princess Alexandra Kropotkin. I promise you there isn't a single line that would imply incest. They are shown to be complicit in their immorality and disregard for others and a pair of co-conspirators in intrigues that involve sexuality with others, but there is never the inference at all that they are doing anything inappropriate together."

Now, that's one interesting angle to consider! I have the habit of collecting different translations of the Russian classics, and for W&P a total of three have gone by my hands to date: the first copy I bought was by the Maude couple, and I recently acquired the translation by another couple, Pevear & Volokhonsky, which I'm saving for my next reread. The first copy I read wasn't mine but borrowed, and I recall it was by Constance Garnett, and I totally got that Anatole and Helene were having something behind doors with both translations I read. I'd imagine that in translations to other languages besides English, like French, Spanish, German, etc., for some it'd be more obvious than for others, depending on the translators' abilities as well as the language nuances of each.

But then, in my case there's also another thing to factor in that's much like your experience, Sara: I'm also good at picking up these faint clues, and with this topic even more so, given that before W&P I had gotten through Wagner and Tolkien and Martin after, and all three have had the same topic in their works. Not subtly, of course, but that sort of prepares you for detecting it when it's done subtler, I'd believe.

So, perhaps it might be a mix of language/translation, the readers' own attention span/capability to detect nuances, life experience, how comfortable they are with the topic, and so on.


message 47: by Marie (last edited Jan 22, 2016 12:17PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marie Williams | 573 comments Mod
That is a really great point, Sara. I hadn't thought of different time periods or translations having an effect on the story, or even editing parts out. My first reading was about twelve years ago (I was 17 or 18) and I do think it was Pervears, but I can't remember the year. My copy now is the Penguin Deluxe Edition from 2006, translated by Anthony Briggs. It's been in both editions I've read. Like Marquis said, language could also be a factor. Russian has far fewer words than we do, but they can be used for multiple purposes. Also they have two versions for some words and phrases, one positive and one negative. They would translate the same, but the context could be lost.


QNPoohBear | 460 comments Those if us who haven't seen the miniseries or read the whole book yet would appreciate some spoiler warnings. How much of the book (if any) does part I of the mini-series cover?

Andrew Davies is always being accused of sexing up his literary adaptations. I have no complaints at all about Colin Firth in a wet shirt! :-D I also thought Sense & Sensibility was tastefully done and there is obviously sex in the story "off-screen" and the same with a duel. I also have no problems with Dan Stevens chopping wood in the rain. ;-)

As for War & Peace.. I'm reading the Pevear & Volokhonsky translation. They said in the introduction that Tolstoy chose his words carefully to make a point or be funny and they tried to be faithful to that. It is briefly mentioned that (view spoiler)


message 49: by Marie (last edited Jan 22, 2016 01:09PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marie Williams | 573 comments Mod
I'm dying over the slapped over the head thing too, and it's true. I don't want to offend anyone's reading preferences here, so I apologize in advance but I'm just going to say it. A lot of it is YA... Not the sex thing, but the loss of the ability to understand subtlety. The publishing companies are feeding it in their rush to grab the next trilogy and teen film franchise. I've read Harry Potter, it was okay, it wasn't the second coming... I've also read the Infernal Devices, I'm not sure how I made it hrough that one. I've lost count of how many other YA novels I've tried to read over the last few years - probably because of the amount of flack I get for saying I don't read YA, it's apparently a sin - and I give up after a few chapters. This of course doesn't count more traditional or classic literature geared toward younger audiences, just the newer YA craze.

They not only tell you what you're supposed to think, they obviously don't think you can understand what you're being told, either. There will be a small metaphor or piece of symbolism, then they will take the next two pages explaining it to you - when let's face it, it didn't require a genius to begin with. Then in the next chapter, there will be another metaphore, which must be explained. Then we have to explain how it connects to the previous metaphore, which you probably no longer remeber the explanation of, so we're going to spend the next couple of paragraphs recapping it. Then the "villain" will have to give an entire monolog, explaining in depth his whole plan and all the reasons for it. Because you didn't already figure that out when they told you in the first five chapters, two books ago...

I take it a little too personally, because I'm being held to the new formulaic requirements of the YA genre, when I don't write for that audience - which I've been told is insulting. But it is adding to the break down of reading comprehension, and people's ability to see subtle themes without being beaten over the head by them.

As for the sensuality thing, yes, it sells. I don't necessarily have a problem with it if it adds to or remains faithful to the story. Here, I don't think it's harming the integrity of the story so far - you know, minus the table thing. You just can't unsee that... What I am tired of is the oversaturation of the film industry. It's to a point where sex in movies and television has almost become boring, or even laughable. It really started in earnest a few years ago with Rome and The Tudors, kind of leading the way with the premium adult shows pushing what they could get away with, then GoT just pushed everything right over the cliff. Now you have HBO's new series, Westworld, going so far as to release falsified extras contracts, claiming pornagraphic requirements that they can't even request under union laws, just to drum up publicity for how "shocking" they're going to be. It's a joke.


message 50: by Marie (last edited Jan 22, 2016 01:06PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marie Williams | 573 comments Mod
QNPoohBear wrote: "Those if us who haven't seen the miniseries or read the whole book yet would appreciate some spoiler warnings. How much of the book (if any) does part I of the mini-series cover?

Andrew Davies is ..."


Sorrry, QNPoohBear :/ It got interesting here for a while. I think you're further along than the first episode, though. It doesn't go much further than the group's first two reading sections. (view spoiler)

Now I have a chance, I have to go read your comments on Mercy Street.


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