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Sergri Prokofiev

War and Peace

Сергей Прокофьев / Sergey Prokofiev

"La Guerre et la Paix" 
"War and Peace"


Действующие лица и Исполнители

Князь Андрей Болконский - Nathan Gunn
Наташа Ростова - Ольга Гурякова
Соня, ее кузина - Маргарита Мамсирова
Хозяин бала - Леонид Бомштейн
Распорядитель - Всеволод Гривнов
Марья Дмитриевна Ахросимова - Елена Образцова
Перонская - Ирина Рубстова
Граф Илья Андреевич Ростов - Михаил Кит
Граф Пьер Безухов - Robert Brubacker
Элен Безухова - Elena Zaremba
Князь Анатоль Курагин - Stefan Margita
Лейтенант Долохов - Александр Морозов
Старый лакей Николая Болконскаго - Evgueni Polikanine
Горничная Николая Болконского - София Аксёнова
Камердинер Николая Болконского - Stanislav Schwets
Княжна Марья Болконская - Susanna Poretsky
Старый князь Николай Болконский - Леонид Зимненко
Балага, кучер - Владимир Маторин
Матреша, цыганка - Mzia Nioradze
Дуняша, горничная Наташи - Лариса Зуенко
Гаврила, камердинер Ахросимовой - Tigran Martirossian
Метивье, французский врач - Nigel Smith
Французский аббат - Константин Плужников
Василий Денисов, русский полководец - Андрей Батуркин
Тихон Щербатый - Владимир Маторин
Федор - Валерий Серкин
Первый немецкий генерал - Александр Екатерининский
Второй немецкий генерал - Wassyl Slipak
Вестовой князя Андрея - Андрей Славный
Фельдмаршал Кутузов - Анатолий Кочерга
Адъютант Кутузова - Александр Подболотов
Наполеон Бонапарт - Василий Герелло
Адъютант маршала Мюрата - Маргарита Мамсирова
Маршал Бертье - Пётр Глубокий
Генерал Бельяр - Юрий Скляр
Голос за сценой - Александр Подболотов
Де Боссе, французский господин - Pascal Mesle
Генерал Бенингсен - Михаил Кит
Генерал Барклай-де-Толли - Peter Kazaras
Генерал Ермолов - Александр Морозов
Генерал Раевский - Evgueni Polikanine
Капитан Рамбаль, французский офицер - Stanislav Schwets
Лейтенант Боннэ, французский офицер - Леонид Бомштейн
Капитан Жако, французский офицер - Tigran Martirossian
Жерар, французский солдат - Jean-Pierre Trevisani
Мавра Кузминишна, экономка Ростовых - Ирина Чистякова
Маршал Даву - Игорь Матюхин
Французский офицер - Андрей Славный
Платон Каратаев - Константин Плужников
Первый сумасшедший - Всеволод Гривнов
Второй сумасшедший - Юрий Скляр
Первая французская актриса - Catherine Hirt
Вторая французская актриса - Susanna Poretsky

L'Orchestre et les Choeurs de l'Opera National de Paris
Дирижёр - Gary Bertini
Хормейстер - David Levi
Сценическая постановка - Francesca Zambello
Декорации - John Macfarlane
Костюмы - Nicky Gillybrand
Световое оформление - Dominique Bruguiere
Хореография - Denni Sayers


War and Peace (Op. 91) (Russian: Война и мир, Voyna i mir) is an opera in two parts (an Epigraph and 13 scenes), sometimes arranged as five acts, by Sergei Prokofiev to a Russian libretto by the composer and Mira Mendelson, based on the novel War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Although Tolstoy's work is classified as a novel, the 1812 invasion of Russia by the French was based on real-life events, and some real-life people appear as characters in both the novel and the opera, e.g. Prince Mikhail Kutuzov and Napoleon Bonaparte.

Composition history
Mendelson and Prokofiev's original scheme for the libretto of the opera envisaged 11 scenes, and Prokofiev began composing the music in the summer of 1942, spurred on by the German invasion of the Soviet Union which began on June 22, 1941. The description "lyric-dramatic scenes" in the libretto accurately suggests both a homage to Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin and an emphasis on individuals and their emotions rather than on the bigger picture of a country at war.


A piano score was completed by the summer of 1942 (two scenes having been changed from the original version), and it was submitted to the Soviet Union's Committee on the Arts. The Committee demanded that the Part 2 (War) scenes needed a more patriotic and heroic emphasis. Prokofiev, who had wanted to see his masterpiece staged as quickly as possible, added marches, choruses, and other materials to Part 2 to satisfy the committee. In addition, he composed the choral Epigraph, which emphasises the Russian people's defiance in the face of the enemy.

Performance history
Plans were drawn up for a 1943 première at the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, to be directed by Sergei Eisenstein and conducted by Samuil Samosud. Nothing came of this project, although a private performance of eight scenes with piano accompaniment took place at the Moscow Actors’ Centre on October 16, 1944, and a public concert performance of nine scenes, conducted by Samosud, was given in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory on June 7, 1945.


The first staged performance was of a newly extended seven-scene version of Part 1 (what is now Scene 2 having been added at Samosud’s suggestion), together with Scene 8, the first scene of Part 2. This took place on June 12, 1946, at the Maly Theatre (before the Revolution - Mikhailovsky Theatre) in Leningrad, again conducted by Samosud. Part 2, also with an additional scene (Scene 10), was to be performed there in July 1947, but after the dress rehearsal no public performances were given, “for reasons beyond the control of the theatre and the composer”.

Following the Zhdanov decree of February 1948, Prokofiev started work on a shortened single-evening version of the opera, at the same time making various revisions to his original scheme, although the thirteen-scene framework remained. This version was first performed on 26 May 1953, at the Teatro Comunale, Florence, conducted by Artur Rodziński, two months after the composer’s death. Scenes 2 and 9 were, however, omitted. The Russian première of this version was given at the Maly Theatre, Leningrad, on April 1, 1955, conducted by Eduard Grikurov, in this case with the omission of Scenes 7 and 11. All thirteen scenes (but with cuts) were eventually first performed together on November 8, 1957, at the Stanislavski-Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre in Moscow, under the baton of Samosud's assistant Alexander Shaverdov. On December 15, 1959, the 13 scenes and Epigraph were finally staged uncut (conducted by Alexander Melik-Pashayev) at the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, although this was preceded in the United States by an NBC telecast conducted by Peter Herman Adler on January 13, 1957.

The first British performance was a Leeds Festival concert performance at Leeds Town Hall on April 19, 1967 (conductor Edward Downes). The first British staged performance was by Sadlers’ Wells Opera on October 11, 1972, and the first American staging by the Opera Company of Boston on May 8, 1974. In other countries, the thirteen-scene version of the opera was first performed in Germany (Bonn) and Bulgaria (Sofia) in 1957, Serbia (Belgrade) in 1958, Croatia (Zagreb) in 1961, the Czech Republic (Liberec) in 1962, France (Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Paris, in concert) and Canada (Montreal) in 1967, Austria (Vienna State Opera, conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich) in 1971, Australia (the opening performance at the Sydney Opera House) and Argentina (Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires) in 1973, Spain (Liceu, Barcelona) in 1977 and the Netherlands (Amsterdam, conducted by Edo de Waart) in 1991. The Canadian Opera Company performed the opera as part of its 2008-09 season.



(Voyna i mir)

Opera in two parts by Sergei Prokofiev
to a Russian libretto by the composer and Mira Mendelson,
based on the novel
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.

Natalya (Natasha) Rostova    soprano
Count Pyotr (Pierre) Bezukhov    tenor
Prince Andrei Bolkonsky    baritone  
Field-Marshal Prince Mikhail Kutuzov    bass 
Napoleon Bonaparte    baritone   
Hélène Bezukhova, Pierre's wife    mezzo-soprano 
Prince Anatole Kuragin, her brother

Time: 1812
Place: Russia
Premiere cast, Moscow, 1945
Premiere cast, Leningrad, 1946

Other roles:

Sonya, Natasha's cousin (mezzo-soprano)

Maria Dmitrievna Akhrosimova (alto)

Dolokhov (baritone)
Colonel Vasska Denisov (bass)
Platon Karataev (tenor)
Prince Nikolai Bolkonsky, Andrei's father (bass-baritone)
Madame Peronskaya (soprano)
Tsar Alexander I (silent role)
Princess Marya Bolkonskaya, Andrei's sister (mezzo-soprano)
Balaga, a coachman (bass)
Joseph, a servant (silent role)
Matriosha, a gipsy (mezzo-soprano)
Dunyasha, Natasha's maid (soprano)
Gavrila, Mme Akhrosimova's butler (bass)
Metivier, a French doctor (baritone)
Tikhon Scherbatsky, a partisan (baritone)
Vasilisa (soprano)
Fyodor, a partisan (tenor)
Matveyev, a Muscovite (baritone)
Trishka (alto)
Marshal Berthier (baritone)
Marquis de Caulaincourt (silent role)
General Belliard (baritone)
Monsieur de Beausset (tenor)
General Count von Bennigsen (bass)
Prince Mikhail Barclay de Tolly (tenor)
General Aleksey Yermolov (baritone)
General Pyotr Konovnitsyn (tenor)
General Nikolay Raevsky (baritone)
Malasha, a young girl (silent role)
Captain Ramballe (bass)
Lieutenant Bonnet (tenor)
Ivanov, a Muscovite (tenor)
Jacquot (bass)
Gérard (tenor)
Mavra Kusminitchna (alto)
Marshal Davout (bass)


Natasha Rostova:

Soprano. She is loved by the widowed Prince Andrei, but she falls for the charms of Prince Anatol (who is already married). Andrei volunteers for the Russian army. He is injured and Natasha's family flee occupied Moscow, taking him with them. She begs his forgiveness for leaving him, but too late—he is dying. Created (1945 vers.) by M. A. Nadion; (1946 vers.) by T. N. Lavrova.

Count Pierre Bezukhov:

Tenor. A friend of Natasha's aunt, he is himself in love with Natasha. He tells her that Anatol, for whom she has fallen, is already married. After the fall of Moscow to the French, he searches for her in the city. Creator (1945 vers.) not known; created (1946 vers.) by Oles’ [Olexander] Semenovych Chishko.

Prince Andrei Bolkonsky:

Baritone. Son of Prince Nikolai. He is a widower who falls in love with Natasha Rostova. His father disapproves and insists they spend a year apart. During that time Natasha falls for Prince Anatol. Her aunt and their friend, Pierre Bezukhov tell her Anatol is already married and Pierre declares his own love for her. Napoleon crosses the border. Moscow is occupied and Natasha's family flee, taking the injured Andrei with them. He dies. Created (1945 vers.) by A. P. Ivanov; (1946 vers.) by L. E. Petrov.

George Tsypin  : Opera - War and Peace (design)



The Overture or the Epigraph usually precedes the action

Scene 1: After dark, in the garden of Count Rostov's country estate, May, 1806

Andrei, who is a guest there, is depressed by the loss of his wife. Natasha, who also cannot sleep, looks out of her window and tells Sonya how beautiful the garden looks in the moonlight, and Andrei recovers his spirits.

Scene 2: New Year's Eve, 1810

At a ball in St Petersburg attended by the Tsar, Pierre encourages Andrei, who is attracted to Natasha, to ask her to dance. Anatole, also attracted to her, asks Hélène to arrange an introduction.

Scene 3: Town house of Prince Nikolai, February 1812

Count Rostov and Natasha visit Prince Nikolai's home. He is the father of Andrei, to whom she is engaged. Andrei has been abroad for a year. Princess Marya indicates that her father will not see them, and Count Rostov departs. However, the Prince, dressed eccentrically and behaving boorishly, does appear, and Natasha realises that he does not approve of the marriage.

Scene 4: Pierre's Moscow house, May 1812

Hélène tells Natasha that Anatole is attracted to her, and, after some hesitation, Natasha hears his declaration of love and agrees to meet him.

Scene 5: Dolokhov's apartment, 12 June 1812

Dolokhov has made the arrangements for his friend Anatole's elopement with Natasha. The coach-driver Balaga, Dolokhov and Anatole drink to the escapade and to the latter's mistress Matriosha.

Scene 6: Later that night

Natasha discovers that Sonya has given away her secret to Madame Akhrosimova, with whom they are staying. Anatole and Dolokhov are sent away by Gavrila, and Akhrosimova reduces Natasha to tears. Pierre arrives, reveals that Anatole is married, and agrees to ask Andrei to forgive Natasha. He shyly admits that he himself would want to marry her if he were free. Natasha makes her peace with Sonya.

Scene 7: Later still

Hélène is entertaining Anatole, Metivier and an Abbé. Pierre, returning home, upbraids Anatole and demands that he leave Moscow immediately. He agrees, and Pierre is left alone to bemoan his own circumstances. Denisov arrives with the news that Napoleon and his army are crossing into Russia. War is inevitable.


The Epigraph is usually performed here if it was not used at the start of Part 1.

Scene 8: Near Borodino, 25 August 1812

Amid preparations for the defence of Moscow, Andrei and Denisov discuss utilising partisans to make life difficult for Napoleon's army. Pierre, wanting to observe the scene, arrives, and he and Andrei embrace, perhaps for the last time. Field-Marshal Kutuzov offers Andrei a position on his staff, but Andrei prefers to go into battle with his own regiment. The battle starts.

Scene 9: Later that day

Napoleon ponders his position, first refusing to commit more men, then agreeing. An unexploded cannonball lands at his feet and he kicks it away.

Scene 10: Two days later

Kutuzov and his generals are holding a Council of War at Fili, near Smolensk. The army will be at risk if Moscow is to be defended to the last - but if the army retreats, Moscow will be at the mercy of the French. Kutuzov decides that only by retreating, and potentially sacrificing Moscow, will there be any hope of victory.

Scene 11: Moscow is burning

The city is on fire because its citizens try to avoid a surrender. Pierre is caught up among some Muscovites, including the veteran Platon Karataev, who are accused by the French of fire-raising. As the asylum and theatre burn, lunatics and actresses flee - but Napoleon has to admit that the courage of the people has frustrated his plans.

Scene 12: In a peasant's hut at Mitishi

The wounded Prince Andrei, delirious, has been evacuated with the Rostovs from Moscow. Natasha, who had been unaware that he was among her fellow evacuees, visits him. She tries to apologise for her conduct, but he again declares his love for her, and they sing of their happiness as Natasha reassures him that he will live. He falls asleep, and his heartbeat (conveyed by an offstage chorus) stops for ever.

Scene 13: November, 1812

On the road to Smolensk, the retreating French are escorting a group of prisoners through a snow-storm. Karataev cannot keep up and is shot, but Pierre and the others are rescued by the partisans. Denisov tells Pierre that Andrei is dead but that Natasha is alive and well. Kutuzov and his men rejoice in their victory, and celebrate the indomitable will of the Russian people.


Leo Tolstoy "War and Peace"

War and Peace (1/9) Movie CLIP - The Greatest Pleasures (1956)

War and Peace (Italian: Guerra e pace) is a 1956 American-Italian war drama film directed by King Vidor and written by Vidor, Bridget Boland, Mario Camerini, Ennio De Concini, Gian Gaspare Napolitano, Ivo Perilli, Mario Soldati, and Robert Westerby based on Leo Tolstoy's 1869 novel of the same name. The film, released by Paramount Pictures, was produced by Dino De Laurentiis and Carlo Ponti with a music score by Nino Rota and cinematography by Jack Cardiff.

The film stars Audrey Hepburn, Henry Fonda, and Mel Ferrer, along with Vittorio Gassman, Herbert Lom, John Mills and Anita Ekberg, in one of her first breakthrough roles. 

War and Peace is a novel by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy. It is regarded as a central work of world literature and one of Tolstoy's finest literary achievements.

The novel chronicles the history of the French invasion of Russia and the impact of the Napoleonic era on Tsarist society through the stories of five Russian aristocratic families. Portions of an earlier version, titled The Year 1805, were serialized in The Russian Messenger from 1865 to 1867. The novel was first published in its entirety in 1869.

Tolstoy said War and Peace is "not a novel, even less is it a poem, and still less a historical chronicle". Large sections, especially the later chapters, are a philosophical discussion rather than narrative. Tolstoy also said that the best Russian literature does not conform to standards and hence hesitated to call War and Peace a novel. Instead, he regarded Anna Karenina as his first true novel. The Encyclopædia Britannica states: "It can be argued that no single English novel attains the universality of the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace".

War and Peace (2/9) Movie CLIP - The Duel (1956) 


The novel begins in July 1805 in Saint Petersburg, at a soirée given by Anna Pavlovna Scherer—the maid of honour and confidante to the dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna. Many of the main characters are introduced as they enter the salon. Pierre (Pyotr Kirilovich) Bezukhov is the illegitimate son of a wealthy count, who is dying after a series of strokes. Pierre is about to become embroiled in a struggle for his inheritance. Educated abroad at his father's expense following his mother's death, Pierre is kindhearted but socially awkward, and finds it difficult to integrate into Petersburg society. It is known to everyone at the soirée that Pierre is his father's favorite of all the old count’s illegitimate progeny.

Also attending the soirée is Pierre's friend, Prince Andrei Nikolayevich Bolkonsky, husband of Lise, a charming society favourite. He is disillusioned with Petersburg society and with married life, feeling that his wife is empty and superficial, and decides to escape to become aide-de-camp to Prince Mikhail Ilarionovich Kutuzov in the coming war against Napoleon.

The plot moves to Moscow, Russia's former capital, contrasting its provincial, more Russian ways to the more European society of Petersburg. The Rostov family are introduced. Count Ilya Andreyevich Rostov and Countess Natalya Rostova are an affectionate couple but forever worried about their disordered finances. They have four children. Thirteen-year-old Natasha (Natalia Ilyinichna) believes herself in love with Boris Drubetskoy, a young man who is about to join the army as an officer. Twenty-year-old Nikolai Ilyich pledges his love to Sonya (Sofia Alexandrovna), his fifteen-year-old cousin, an orphan who has been brought up by the Rostovs. The eldest child, Vera Ilyinichna, is cold and somewhat haughty but has a good prospective marriage in a Russian-German officer, Adolf Karlovich Berg. Petya (Pyotr Ilyich) at nine is the youngest; like his brother, he is impetuous and eager to join the army when of age.

At Bald Hills, the Bolkonskys' country estate, Prince Andrei departs for war and leaves his terrified, pregnant wife Lise with his eccentric father Prince Nikolai Andreyevich and devoutly religious sister Maria Nikolayevna Bolkonskaya, who refuses to marry the son of a wealthy aristocrat on account of her devotion to her father.

The second part opens with descriptions of the impending Russian-French war preparations. At the Schöngrabern engagement, Nikolai Rostov, now an ensign in the Hussars, has his first taste of battle. Boris Drubetskoy introduces him to Prince Andrei, whom Rostov insults in a fit of impetuousness. He is deeply attracted by Tsar Alexander's charisma. Nikolai gambles and socializes with his officer, Vasily Dmitrich Denisov, and befriends the ruthless, and perhaps, psychopathic Fyodor Ivanovich Dolokhov. Bolkonsky, Rostov and Denisov are involved in the disastrous Battle of Austerlitz, in which Prince Andrei is badly wounded as he attempts to rescue a Russian standard.

The Battle of Austerlitz is a major event in the book. As the battle is about to start, Prince Andrei thinks the approaching "day [will] be his Toulon, or his Arcola", references to Napoleon's early victories. Later in the battle, however, Andrei falls into enemy hands and even meets his hero, Napoleon. But his previous enthusiasm has been shattered; he no longer thinks much of Napoleon, "so petty did his hero with his paltry vanity and delight in victory appear, compared to that lofty, righteous and kindly sky which he had seen and comprehended". Tolstoy portrays Austerlitz as an early test for Russia, one which ended badly because the soldiers fought for irrelevant things like glory or renown rather than the higher virtues which would produce, according to Tolstoy, a victory at Borodino during the 1812 invasion.

War and Peace (3/9) Movie CLIP - A Moonlight Night (1956)

War and Peace (4/9) Movie CLIP - The Dance (1956) 


Book Two begins with Nikolai Rostov briefly returning on leave to Moscow accompanied by his friend Denisov, his officer from his Pavlograd Regiment. He spends an eventful winter at home. Natasha has blossomed into a beautiful young girl. Denisov falls in love with her, proposes marriage but is rejected. Although his mother pleads with Nikolai to marry a wealthy heiress to rescue the family from its dire financial straits, Nikolai refuses. Instead, he promises to marry his childhood sweetheart and orphaned cousin, the dowry-less Sonya.


Pierre Bezukhov, upon finally receiving his massive inheritance, is suddenly transformed from a bumbling young man into the most eligible bachelor in Russian society. Despite knowing that it is wrong, he is convinced into marriage with Prince Kuragin's beautiful and immoral daughter Hélène (Elena Vasilyevna Kuragina). Hélène, who is rumoured to be involved in an incestuous affair with her brother Anatol, tells Pierre that she will never have children with him. Hélène is also rumoured to have an affair with Dolokhov, who mocks Pierre in public. Pierre loses his temper and challenges Dolokhov to a duel. Unexpectedly (because Dolokhov is a seasoned dueller), Pierre wounds Dolokhov. Hélène denies her affair, but Pierre is convinced of her guilt and leaves her. In his moral and spiritual confusion, Pierre joins the Freemasons. Much of Book Two concerns his struggles with his passions and his spiritual conflicts. He abandons his former carefree behavior and enters upon a philosophical quest particular to Tolstoy: how should one live a moral life in an ethically imperfect world? The question continually baffles Pierre. He attempts to liberate his serfs, but ultimately achieves nothing of note.

Pierre is contrasted with Prince Andrei Bolkonsky. Andrei recovers from his near-fatal wound in a military hospital and returns home, only to find his wife Lise dying in childbirth. He is stricken by his guilty conscience for not treating her better. His child, Nikolai, survives.

Burdened with nihilistic disillusionment, Prince Andrei does not return to the army but remains on his estate, working on a project that would codify military behavior to solve problems of disorganization responsible for the loss of life on the Russian side. Pierre visits him and brings new questions: where is God in this amoral world? Pierre is interested in panentheism and the possibility of an afterlife.

Pierre's wife, Hélène, begs him to take her back, and trying to abide by the Freemason laws of forgiveness, he agrees. Hélène establishes herself as an influential hostess in Petersburg society.

Prince Andrei feels impelled to take his newly written military notions to Petersburg, naively expecting to influence either the Emperor himself or those close to him. Young Natasha, also in Petersburg, is caught up in the excitement of her first grand ball, where she meets Prince Andrei and briefly reinvigorates him with her vivacious charm. Andrei believes he has found purpose in life again and, after paying the Rostovs several visits, proposes marriage to Natasha. However, Andrei's father dislikes the Rostovs and opposes the marriage, and he insists the couple wait a year before marrying. Prince Andrei leaves to recuperate from his wounds abroad, leaving Natasha initially distraught. Count Rostov takes her and Sonya to Moscow in order to raise funds for her trousseau.

Natasha visits the Moscow opera, where she meets Hélène and her brother Anatole. Anatole has since married a Polish woman whom he has abandoned in Poland. He is very attracted to Natasha and determined to seduce her, and conspires with his sister to do so. Anatole succeeds in making Natasha believe he loves her, eventually establishing plans to elope. Natasha writes to Princess Maria, Andrei's sister, breaking off her engagement. At the last moment, Sonya discovers her plans to elope and foils them. Natasha learns from Pierre of Anatole's marriage. Devastated, Natasha makes a suicide attempt and is left seriously ill.

Pierre is initially horrified by Natasha's behavior, but realizes he has fallen in love with her. As the Great Comet of 1811–12 streaks the sky, life appears to begin anew for Pierre. Prince Andrei coldly accepts Natasha's breaking of the engagement. He tells Pierre that his pride will not allow him to renew his proposal.

War and Peace (5/9) Movie CLIP - Think of Me (1956)

War and Peace (6/9) Movie CLIP - War is the Most Horrible Thing in Life (1956)


The Battle of Borodino, fought on September 7, 1812 and involving more than 250,000 troops and 70,000 casualties was a turning point in Napoleon's failed campaign to take Russia. It is vividly depicted through the plot and characters of War and Peace.

With the help of her family, and the stirrings of religious faith, Natasha manages to persevere in Moscow through this dark period. Meanwhile, the whole of Russia is affected by the coming confrontation between Napoleon's troops and the Russian army. Pierre convinces himself through gematria that Napoleon is the Antichrist of the Book of Revelation. Old Prince Bolkonsky dies of a stroke knowing that French marauders are coming for his estate. No organized help from any Russian army seems available to the Bolkonskys, but Nikolai Rostov turns up at their estate in time to help put down an incipient peasant revolt. He finds himself attracted to the distraught Princess Maria.


Back in Moscow, the patriotic Petya joins a crowd in audience of Czar Alexander and manages to snatch a biscuit thrown from the balcony window of the Cathedral of the Assumption by the Czar. He is nearly crushed by the throngs in his effort. Under the influence of the same patriotism, his father finally allows him to enlist.

Napoleon himself is the main character in this section, and the novel presents him in vivid detail, both personally and as both a thinker and would-be strategist. Also described are the well-organized force of over 400,000 French Army (only 140,000 of them actually French-speaking) that marches through the Russian countryside in the late summer and reaches the outskirts of the city of Smolensk. Pierre decides to leave Moscow and go to watch the Battle of Borodino from a vantage point next to a Russian artillery crew. After watching for a time, he begins to join in carrying ammunition. In the midst of the turmoil he experiences first-hand the death and destruction of war; Eugène's artillery continues to pound Russian support columns, while Marshals Ney and Davout set up a crossfire with artillery positioned on the Semyonovskaya heights. The battle becomes a hideous slaughter for both armies and ends in a standoff. The Russians, however, have won a moral victory by standing up to Napoleon's reputedly invincible army. The Russian army withdraws the next day, allowing Napoleon to march on to Moscow. Among the casualties are Anatole Kuragin and Prince Andrei. Anatole loses a leg, and Andrei suffers a grenade wound in the abdomen. Both are reported dead, but their families are in such disarray that no one can be notified.

War and Peace (7/9) Movie CLIP - The Invasion (1956)

War and Peace (8/9) Movie CLIP - The Hardest Thing is to Keep Alive at Sunset (1956)


The Rostovs have waited until the last minute to abandon Moscow, even after it is clear that Kutuzov has retreated past Moscow and Muscovites are being given contradictory instructions on how to either flee or fight. Count Rostopchin, the commander in chief of Moscow, is publishing posters, rousing the citizens to put their faith in religious icons, while at the same time urging them to fight with pitchforks if necessary. Before fleeing himself, he gives orders to burn the city. The Rostovs have a difficult time deciding what to take with them, but in the end, Natasha convinces them to load their carts with the wounded and dying from the Battle of Borodino. Unknown to Natasha, Prince Andrei is amongst the wounded.

When Napoleon's Grand Army finally occupies an abandoned and burning Moscow, Pierre takes off on a quixotic mission to assassinate Napoleon. He becomes anonymous in all the chaos, shedding his responsibilities by wearing peasant clothes and shunning his duties and lifestyle. The only people he sees are Natasha and some of her family, as they depart Moscow. Natasha recognizes and smiles at him, and he in turn realizes the full scope of his love for her.

Pierre saves the life of a French officer who fought at Borodino, yet is taken prisoner by the retreating French during his attempted assassination of Napoleon, after saving a woman from being raped by soldiers in the French Army.

Pierre becomes friends with a fellow prisoner, Platon Karataev, a Russian peasant with a saintly demeanor. In Karataev, Pierre finally finds what he has been seeking: an honest person of integrity, who is utterly without pretense. Pierre discovers meaning in life simply by interacting with him. After witnessing French soldiers sacking Moscow and shooting Russian civilians arbitrarily, Pierre is forced to march with the Grand Army during its disastrous retreat from Moscow in the harsh Russian winter. After months of trial and tribulation—during which the fever-plagued Karataev is shot by the French—Pierre is finally freed by a Russian raiding party led by Dolokhov and Denisov, after a small skirmish with the French that sees the young Petya Rostov killed in action.

Meanwhile, Andrei has been taken in and cared for by the Rostovs, fleeing from Moscow to Yaroslavl. He is reunited with Natasha and his sister Maria before the end of the war. Having lost all will to live, he forgives Natasha in a last act before dying.

As the novel draws to a close, Pierre's wife Hélène dies from an overdose of an abortifacient (Tolstoy does not state it explicitly but the euphemism he uses is unambiguous). Pierre is reunited with Natasha, while the victorious Russians rebuild Moscow. Natasha speaks of Prince Andrei's death and Pierre of Karataev's. Both are aware of a growing bond between them in their bereavement. With the help of Princess Maria, Pierre finds love at last and marries Natasha.

War and Peace (9/9) Movie CLIP - You've Come Back (1956)

Epilogue in two parts

First part

The first part of the epilogue begins with the wedding of Pierre and Natasha in 1813. Count Rostov dies soon after, leaving his eldest son Nikolai to take charge of the debt-ridden estate. Nikolai finds himself with the task of maintaining the family on the verge of bankruptcy. His abhorrence at the idea of marrying for wealth almost gets in his way, but finally he marries the now-rich Maria Bolkonskaya and in so doing saves his family from financial ruin (though manages to do so without selling any of his wife's property).


Nikolai and Maria then move to Bald Hills with his mother and Sonya, whom he supports for the rest of their lives. They also raise Prince Andrei's orphaned son, Nikolai Andreyevich (Nikolenka) Bolkonsky.

As in all good marriages, there are misunderstandings, but the couples—Pierre and Natasha, Nikolai and Maria—remain devoted to their spouses. Pierre and Natasha visit Bald Hills in 1820. There is a hint in the closing chapters that the idealistic, boyish Nikolenka and Pierre would both become part of the Decembrist Uprising. The first epilogue concludes with Nikolenka promising he would do something with which even his late father "would be satisfied" (presumably as a revolutionary in the Decembrist revolt).

Second part

The second part of the epilogue contains Tolstoy's critique of all existing forms of mainstream history. The 19th-century Great Man Theory claims that historical events are the result of the actions of "heroes" and other great individuals; Tolstoy argues that this is impossible because of how rarely these actions result in great historical events. Rather, he argues, great historical events are the result of many smaller events driven by the thousands of individuals involved (he compares this to calculus, and the sum of infinitesimals). He then goes on to argue that these smaller events are the result of an inverse relationship between necessity and free-will, necessity being based on reason and therefore explainable by historical analysis, and free-will being based on "consciousness" and therefore inherently unpredictable.


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