A look at the new War and Peace

Hey all! I’ve recently just got done watching the new adaption of War and Peace. Now, first off, I must say that I’ve never seen any other version, and while I’ve been meaning to watch the Audrey Hepburn version, I just never have. But when I found out that both Lily James AND James Norton were in the new version, I knew I needed to watch me some depressing adaption of a Russian classic.

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Lily James as Cinderella in the wedding dress. It’s probably one of my favorite dresses in a movie ever!

If you’re not sure who these two are, look them up. Or, I’ll tell you. People know Lily James from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (I still have yet to see that but, I read the book when it first came out and adored the gory illustrations. What can I say, I’m a sucker for weird things?), Downton Abbey.  However you most likely know her from the new Cinderella (which I enjoyed A LOT and thought that Lily was a real life Ella just because of the beautiful job she did). James Norton has been in shows such as Happy Valley and Granchester.

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James Norton as Prince Andrei

While I think I’ve only seen an episode of Grantchester, I think people (in America mainly) would have an easier time recognizing him from Happy Valley which is on Netflix.

I enjoyed the series very much and will try to watch other adaptions and maybe read the book one day. I just haven’t been able to read like I used to, so to read Tolstoy, sounds rather scary to me. I have a feeling many would say I have no right to argue with reviewers because of what I’ve just said, however, there are a few things that bother me about the reviews…

Reviews of the mini-series are not all that favorable. One accuses it of not being able to look into the main themes of the novel. I feel as though I shouldn’t be critical of this critique, however, I found that I had taken themes away from the series, and I feel like anyone who’s ever had to write a book report would be able to do that.The problem with TV today is that it’s all about mindless plots. Which, I think is okay, to an extent. I personally prefer to watch the Smithsonian channel over a lot of things. My mom, however doesn’t. In fact, she usually yells at me and tells me to turn off the educational stuff because when she gets home from work, she would rather watch something that didn’t involve thinking. I think this is a fair point, and that many TV viewers today share this feeling, so I guess I could see what many new adaptions today have been mindless adaptions. But, I didn’t find this one to be mindless at all. It got me thinking, and I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to watch it after a long day of work.

Continuing on about this review, the reviewer does mention that a lot of its shortcomings had to do with “the choppiness required to cram the story into just eight hours”. I do have to agree, especially when looking at the first few episodes. They seemed more choppy than the rest. Probably to set the story up, though.

Another review accuses the series of spending more time watching Anatole make his conquests than the little things, like Pierre eating his potato after coming home from imprisonment. I think that this is a subjective thing, because while Anatole’s attempts at wooing Natasha at the opera were very distracting, I left the mini series with more of a memory of how Pierre at the potato than of Anatole at the opera. Yeah, I remember it, but Pierre’s potato seen meant more to me, so while I see what the reviewer is trying to say, I think that it’s kind of an absurd point to make because people watch things differently than other people. So maybe me auguring this is just a bunch of wasted time. Whatever.

And to add to the complaint about Anatole’s flirting, a lot of people seemed to have been upset about the amount of sex this new adaption had. I can understand that, and while the amount of sex on TV these days is really annoying, I didn’t find it to be any more “sexed up” than other shows. In fact, from the way the reviewers were talking, they made it seem like the show was going to be only naked people. Which, thank god it wasn’t, because the costumes were fantastic. Also, the soundtrack was beautiful and the BALLS were amazing. The dance scene between Natasha and Andrei was magical. 

I’m going to conclude the “review” part, since I’m not quite sure I’m entirely qualified for more. I just found the things mentioned above a bit grating. I almost feel as though some reviewers think they’re they only ones who’ve been educated, or at least been to college. That’s bullshit. I know people who’ve been to college who couldn’t talk about these kinds of things in movies/tv and I know people who never went further than High School and could have hours of things to say about the same movies/tv. Away from the snarky bits of this post for now. I just really liked the series, and maybe I’ll find that it wasn’t as good as I found it at first, but for now I adore it. To really show you guys how lovely the mini-series was, I thought I would show you some of my favorite things from it (like the costumes).

I’ll start with the Costumes! This is a bit cliche and annoying, but bear with me. There’s something really lovely about having a good story paired with a beautiful collection of costumes. For instance, the CW’s Reign does not achieve this because the costumes are SO inaccurate it’s hardly believable. At least with War and Peace, you’d have to be more educated in historical clothing to see what’s wrong with the wardrobe. I found a really good article HERE on frockflicks.com that shows what was and wasn’t accurate in the new adaption of War and Peace.

The costumes, which are listed with pictures below are in no particular order, just in order of when I found the pictures.

 

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This is a picture of Sonja, played by Aisling Loftus. Sonya is a relation of the Rostov’s, one of the main families of the story. She lives with them since she seems to have no other family. I noticed that her costumes were not as pretty as Natasha’s, which is probably because of her being the “poor relation”. Sonja was a lovely character, who despite not being the wealthiest, or having the flashiest clothing, her wardrobe was often beautiful. To further this, in the article I mentioned above (from frockflicks.com), the print on her dress is actually an accurate type of print that could have been found from the 19th century, so I guess points for this costume being quite accurate. I honestly don’t even remember when this dress was worn, but it is still a lovely dress nonetheless.

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Prince Andrei’s ball costume was Disney-prince worthy. To be honest, I almost forgot this wasn’t Cinderella. I mean, as much as I loved Richard Madden as Prince Charming, I almost think I would have preferred James Norton, if only because I find him quite attractive. But anyway, while accuracy is in question (once again mentioned in the article posted above), the costume is beautiful. Not only that, but Norton looks dashing in it. I would love to comment on Lily Jame’s ball costume, but I don’t feel this picture does it justice, so that will have to be saved for later.

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Look, you don’t have to be an expert to see that Helene’s dress in this picture, as well as tiara and earrings, possibly hair, are all styled like she’s in the Great Gatsby. Basically, it looks like they decided to make her a time-traveler, and if that’s exactly what they did, then FINE. I don’t care, I love this look. Its beautiful, and Tuppence Middleton only made it even more beautiful. But, I still have to cringe at them trying to pass this dress (and pretty much all of her others) as something a lady would wear in the early 19th century, even if she’s a character that’s supposed to get around a lot?

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This coat is something I wish I owned. I have a thing for fancy coats, but own none. Such a shame, really. Anyway, this coat, worn by Nikolai and his fellow soldiers spend most of the series draped over his shoulder. While the whole uniform itself is beautiful, the coat is my favorite part of it. Which is why I rejoiced when I found the first picture, because he’s wearing it on both shoulders! Something about the cut, the high collar and the colors of it make is just so…beautiful. I don’t know. Anyone know where I can find a coat like this? Probably nowhere but a runway to be honest…

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This is such a lovely outfit, it almost makes Russia’s winters seem like fun. Seriously.

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In addition to the ball scene having beautiful scenery, fairy tale like music, and dreamy lighting, Natasha’s dress really adds to the scene. I mean, if I got to go to a ball, I would wear that dress. It’s absolutely amazing. It doesn’t even need color to make it beautiful. In fact, I think the cream color is the best color for it.

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This is more a “I find this adorable” thing to point out. The uniforms all had extremely high collars, which actually looked pretty good on most people. You’re probably thinking I’m going to say that Callum Turner as Anatole in uniform was absolutely ridiculous. NO. Actually, I find this kind of adorable. Callum Turner has ears that kind of point out. Okay, not kind of, they really point out. The collar on his uniform goes all the way up to his ears, and I thought that was absolutely adorable. Of course, I still am really unattractive to the character Anatole, which must say a lot about Callum Turner’s acting because I think he’s one of the most attractive human beings alive (outside of War and Peace).

The man is literally a model:

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I’m so attracted to this picture.

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Helene’s wedding dress may be my favorite dress in the whole movie. More or less because it’s almost my ideal wedding dress, but also because the details are magnificent. I tried to see if I could find out how accurate the dress was, but couldn’t really figure it out. Up until the 19th century, traditional Russian wedding dresses were said to be quite colorful, and Helene’s dress is obviously not. I guess around the 19th century the Czar wanted Russians to dress more like Europeans during weddings, so rococo style was in. x  In terms of Helene’s headpeice, I found the it’s called a kokoshnik.

 

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“Russian Beauty” by Konstantin Makovsky

If you search kokoshnik, you’ll find several examples of one. I found this picture without any context, and had to do a lot of backpedaling but was able to find out that it was a painting by Konstantin Makovsky. I thought that it was an overall beautiful painting, and a good example of a kokoshnik because while it’s not quite exactly like the one Helene wears, it was the only one I could find that reminded me of it. If you go HERE you can find some more paintings by Makovsky of women wearing kokoshniks.

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In terms of the dress, this is the closest I could find. I have no idea where it’s from, only that it was on a pinterest board and that it matches the scene in the movie because of the two crowns above their heads and her little kokoshkin as well as really lacey/beady dress. I’m suddenly really interested in Russian Wedding traditions. I think I’m going to do more research on it.

To wrap things up, if you didn’t find the adaption really well done, at least it was aesthetically pleasing…Really, though, I liked it. Did you watch it? If so, what did you think?

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