Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Forthcoming: War and Peace (1965-1967) in 70 mm

Napoléon vu par Abel Gance (FR 1927) is being shown to great acclaim in the USA in the definitive Kevin Brownlow - Carl Davis version. On the 200th anniversary of Napoleon's campaign to Russia we in Helsinki are screening a rare long 70 mm version of War and Peace (SU 1965-1967)  based on Leo Tolstoy's classic novel. The most shattering sequence of the movie is dedicated to the biggest battle of Napoleon's wars, the battle of Borodino, followed by the fire of Moscow.

There is a historical Helsinki connection: 200 years ago the little fishing port of Helsinki was elevated to the status of the capital of the grand duchy of Finland, which had just been annexed to the Russian Empire as a part of Napoleon's deals with the kingdom of Sweden.

Six years in the making (1962-1967), shot on 168 locations, and with a cast of 120.000, War and Peace, directed by Sergei Bondarchuk who also plays the central role of Pierre Bezukhov, may still be the most expensive movie of all times.

War and Peace is a conventional illustrated classic with redeeming features. The performances of the actors are sophisticated, and the battle sequences are unforgettaby magnificent. The epic, majestic camera movements and the long takes from the helicopter, moving through clouds to witness giant armies clash against each other in the heat of combat have to be seen to be believed. The vision of the chaos of the forces of destruction and the underlying order unfathomable to the warlords contributes cinematic insights to Tolstoy's philosophy of history.

In the digital age such battles are being created in the computer, in War and Peace the soldiers are real. It was shot to be experienced on a 70 mm cinema screen which only can do full justice to its epic vision. There is a unique sense of solidness and fine detail in a good 70 mm image.

We screen it with three breaks. The movie is in Russian with electronic subtitles in Finnish.

[Update 9 April 2012: the version on display was after all the standard Finnish theatrical version of 362 min / 6 hours 2 minutes.]

Bio Rex, Helsinki, Easter Sunday, 8 April, joint ticket 15 E for all four parts
15.00 War and Peace 1: Andrei Bolkonsky (SU 1966)
War and Peace 2: Natasha Rostova (SU 1966)
War and Peace 3: The Year 1812 (SU 1967)
War and Peace 4: Pierre Bezukhov (SU 1967)
23.00 approximately: ending of the show.

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