I have mentioned previously, the famous Russian film of War and Peace which serialised the book as four movies over a period of about five years. All up, it adds up to about seven hours of cinema. There was no way that they could fit the entire book into that time period, and certainly, compared with the level of detail that we’re getting out of reading it slowly, I’m pretty sure it would seem fast and chaotic by comparison.
But nonetheless, it remained true to the spirit of the book by lifting out all the really memorable set pieces and showing them almost word for word as Tolstoy described it. So if you think back over some of the more quirky and memorable scenes, we have Dolohov drinking rum on the windowsill, Pierre’s “proposal”, Andrei’s charge at Austerlitz, etc.
And for the most part, if I’d had to cut War and Peace down to seven hours, I agreed with their choices. But if they could have added anything in – I would have loved to have seen this card game (which would, of course, have involved the whole Dolohov/Sonya subplot, so it’s not that easy.
I remember this card game scene as clear as a bell from the first time I read the book, and I’ve always thought that it was one of the most brilliant scenes in all literature. Here’s Dolohov, snubbed and spurned by Sonya, turning his anger right onto his faithful “friend”, Nikolai – by wiping him out at cards.
The irony of it all is that Nikolai knows exactly what’s happening, but can’t help himself. (Another Tolstoy character carried along by fate.) And I won’t say any more, because it continues into tomorrow’s chapter and things get even better there.
See you then!