Reading for Friday, 6 February
And now the writing zooms back out from Pierre to the battlefield as a whole. (This is one of the things that I like about the Bondarchuk film – while it whizzes through the story pretty fast and skips a lot of stuff – visually, it’s trying to represent Tolstoy’s ideas on screen as well as possible.)
In fact, it reminds me of a comment that Peter Jackson made about his Lord of the Rings films. He said that when they were filming a battle scene, the temptation was to string lots of big fighting moments together in a battle scene. But what makes the battle scenes work you need both the big scale vision and the small intimate details that makes it work.
So in this chapter, we have left just Pierre’s point of view and moved out to a large-scale view of the battlefield, where orders are being given that are ultimately meaningless. People charge when they shouldn’t, retreat when they shouldn’t.
In one way, it feels quite real – in another way, I actually find it hard to imagine battles, anyway. Even warfare today seems to be all firing shells at people miles away. This kind of combat, where you could eyeball your opponent across a field is something unusual (and fascinating, which is why so many history books and war films get made).