The Beeb's breathtaking £10million adaptation of Tolstoy's epic 1,300-page novel War & Peace has enchanted us over the past six weeks. We fell head over heels in love with all things Russian - and, after the final dramatic episode, snow way Sunday nights will ever be the same again...
My, they’re beautiful! OK, so the historical purists have moaned that they’re too off-the-shoulder and glitzy for the period and way too flimsy for a chilly Moscow winter, but we say сапожники (cobblers!) to them. We loved Helene’s sultry, sexy style and Natasha’s bohemian prettiness. That blue coat/furry hat combo was to-die-for! And don’t get us started on the men’s uniforms…
2. The bad boys
My, they’re bad! They came from Russia with love – and we simultaneously wanted to slap them and be ravished by them. Top Bounder Award must go to evil, moustachioed Dolokhov: ‘I’m just a man who loves to fight. It’s all I know… to my shame.’ Meanwhile Twitter went all wild and weepy when Natasha ditched swoonsome Andrei for sleazy, incestuous Anatole… A single touch of his creepy gloved hand and she was off like a kalashnikov. Personally, we wouldn’t mind a slice of party-animal Boris. Poor lad didn’t stand a chance at the hands of saucy Helene: ‘Are you hungry..?’
3. The backdrop
No, not that nude scene… From the mighty battles (filmed on farmland which was resculpted to match the historical battlefields) to the grand houses of Moscow and St Petersburg, and breathtaking snowscapes of old rural Russia, everything about the setting was BIG. In fact, most of the ‘Russia’ we saw was Lithuania and Latvia. However, our favourite scene was filmed in St Petersburg – the glittering Tsar’s ball at Catherine Palace, where the ball really would have happened.
4. The battle scenes
The battle of Borodino, on 7 September 1812, was the deadliest day of the Napoleonic Wars with 70,000 casualties. Such scenes have been captured dramatically in this adaptation of War & Peace. Horses charge and screams ring out above the thunder of the cannons. Bayonets plunge and dead soldiers lie in heaps. Slow-motion adds to the poignancy.
Military advisers were used to make the battles accurate and a 500-strong ‘army’ of local boys and men were trained how to handle weapons, load cannons and march. With spectacular results.
5. The music
The dramatic Russian Orthodox choral singing throughout stirred our emotions so much we could practically smell the incense. Add in the magical waltz scene at the Tsar’s ball, Natasha and Sonya singing sweetly on the balcony, and the odd moment of mazurka madness, and you’ve got one epic soundtrack.
6. Pierre getting a little bit cross
Aww – we loved Pierre. Poor lost soul spent most of his time wandering around looking worried and limp (at one point in his nightshirt). But then…out of nowhere…
‘I CHALLENGE YOUUUU!’
And who can forget the delicious: ‘Scoundrel! I’ll smash your head and spill your brains!’
PS: Did you know that Pierre Bezukhov transates as ‘Peter the Earless’? Tolstoy invented the name to show that the character struggles to hear the crucial messages of everyday life. Clever, eh?
7. Ade Edmondson
A surprisingly sublime bit of casting. Ade popped on a series of silly hats and flouncy dressing gowns to play Count Rostov, the Daddy with a bottomless chequebook and a heart of gold.
8. The funny one-liners
…’I am not really awfully good at coping with peasants and farms and I have rather a lot of engagements in the city…’
…’So, you’ve tarted your hair up for our guests…’
…’There are three things I love to do: fight, drink, and I can’t remember the other one…’
…’One can get a bit tired of having one’s secret delights discovered over and over…’