Reading for Tuesday, 3 February
There’s not really a lot of plot in this chapter, just a lot of description. Again, as with all Tolstoy battle scenes, we kind of start on the fringes of the action, gradually being drawn in (much like walking forwards into the action or a handheld camera being moved forward).
Explosions and sounds have been a lot of things in Tolstoy’s battle scenes. There was the terrifying moment on the bridge right back in Book 2. But I don’t think until now they’ve been beautiful.
Pierre comes up and looks around the battlefield and the whole thing is so spectacular, he just wants to be down amongst it. The funny thing is, I understand what he means. Or maybe it’s a male thing, I don’t know. But many times I’ve watched the massive battle scenes on films such as Lawrence of Arabia, Gettysburg, Return of the King and, of course, the Bondarchuk War and Peace which trumps the lot of them – and been blown away and dazzled by the battle scenes. There is something spectacular and breathtaking in large numbers of soldiers meeting together on a field of battle.
Of course, this is the point, isn’t it? It all looks beautiful when it’s on paper or when viewed from a distance – but it’s the close up where people are dying and blood is being spilled.