A&E, Lifetime, and the History Channel are currently airing the BBC’s 2016 adaptation of War and Peace. There’s some good … but there’s also some bad and some very, very ugly. We’ll be recapping each of the
three four parts (six episodes if you watched it in the UK), focusing on the costumes, praising what needs to be praised and snarking where it’s required.
I’ve just realized that the episodes are airing differently in the US, so this recap is of part 2 of what I think was the first episode (US style), or episode 2 (UK style). This time, boys are petulant, major characters die (maybe), extramarital shagging occurs, and we meet my hottie for this series:
Helene (new name: BitchWife) and Pierre get married. Probably luckily for this show, we can’t see too much of BitchWife’s dress beyond that it’s very lacy, very sheer, and very beaded. She is wearing a beautiful (to my uneducated eye) kokoshnik, a traditional Russian headdress. I’m seeing similarly shaped kokoshniks when I search for them, but I’m no expert, so hopefully some of you can tell us whether this is an acceptable shape for the era.
Prince Kuragin is counting his rubles all through the ceremony:
Meanwhile in Austria, Andrei delivers dispatches to yet another fatalistic general (this one Austrian?):
And back in Russian, Pierre wakes up in something akin to my dream room (although I’d ditch the giant porcelain cabinets):
He’s SUPER EXCITED about BitchWife:
Meanwhile, the Rostovs receive a letter that Nikolai has been wounded, which is good news, because he’s 1) not dead and 2) coming home for a while!
At first, I was excited because hey, Natasha is wearing something plausible! It’s got day-appropriate long sleeves, and the cross-over bodice and tassels are very of-the-era.
But then I saw that the waist tie is laying about 2″ below the dress’s waist seam, and sighed.
Meanwhile Sonya hears the good news in a sheer blue printed day dress with (hallelujah!) long sleeves:
Back at the war… Nikolai goes to visit Frodo and wows him and some rando with his battle “exploits”:
Andrei randomly shows up, Nikolai gets bitchy, so Andrei gets bitchy right back:
Both of them are like:
After a nice drone shot of snowy woods:
Prince Kuragin hauls DoucheBag out to propose to Marya:
Lise and Mademoiselle Bourienne have decided to
tart Marya up dress Marya fashionably. Lise is wearing a great printed floral over-robe with lovely piped and buttoned tabs at the waist:
While Mademoiselle Bourienne wears a dress made from the floral printed nylon cover of my canopy bed c. 1982:
Marya is feeling very unsure about getting all dressed up — she’s clearly more comfortable being in the background. She’s looking okay in her sheer printed dress, until they add the pièce de résistance — a ribbon, which they tie all wonkily in her hair:
Luckily they’ve fixed it by the time she comes out, and Marya looks quite lovely for DoucheBag:
Luckily Dad (Prince Bolkonsky) is there to emotionally abuse Marya, put her in her place, and make her feel like a pig in lipstick. I do like that Dad puts on his wig for this formal-ish occasion. Older men would totally have still worn wigs, and it’s nice to see a nod to this.
DoucheBag is wearing a waistcoat that is probably made of brocade, but just looks like one of those sparkly knit polyester fabrics from the 1970s:
Nonetheless, he manages to crack a joke and put Marya at ease. This might work out!
Except that evening, while Marya is trying to show off her ladylike attributes, DoucheBag discovers he has a fetish for 1980s floral nylon canopy bed covers:
The next day, Prince Bolkonsky tells Marya that her marriage is basically up to her. While it’s a nice sentiment, he’s super brusque about it, and it’s pretty obvious he’s not going to react well to her saying yes. Marya considers her options while wearing a schoolmarm-ish blouse and overdress combo… but she clearly is more comfortable being back to looking like herself.
Leaving her father, Marya discovers DoucheBag and Mlle. Bourienne making out in the conservatory.
She doesn’t freak out or say anything, just says no to DoucheBag, claiming that she never wants to leave her emotionally abusive father. Probably the right call, Marya. Getting out of the house is good, except when you go from the fireplace to the fire.
DoucheBag is not upset.
Meanwhile, back at the war… Tsar Alexander the Hot turns up, and the soldiers (including Nikolai) wet themselves in excitement.
Despite fatalistic General Kutuzov telling him that the Russians are fucked, Tsar Alexander the Hot is team “Let’s do this!” when it comes to Napoleon.
Andrei realizes that he may well die tomorrow, so decides to finally do the decent thing and write his family (including his wife) a letter.
There’s another great shot of scenery, this time misty fields:
And we get a glimpse of Napoleon, or Nappy as I’m going to call him, which is my household’s nickname for the dog named Napoleon in our neighborhood who likes to get amorous with my dog Winston (Winston is not a fan):
Kutuzov holds his troops back, because Nappy is obviously going to win, but Tsar Alexander the Hot orders him to order them (phew, this is complicated!) into battle.
The Russians run at the French, who shoot them with cannons and guns, leading me to lots of “war, what is it good for” thoughts. The Russians turn and run, but Andrei is no wussy soldier, so he hops off his horse, grabs the battle flag, and just as I’m admiring said flag as a lovely piece of textile art, gets bayonetted. Oops!
After the battle, Tsar Alexander the Hot is sad, and Andrei is left for dead.
Back in Russia… Pierre foolishly thinks that since he’s married to BitchWife, maybe they could spend some time together and just maybe, you know, have a baby? BitchWife is like LOL to both, and tells him he’s welcome to get a mistress and have kids with her. While all of this is happening, BitchWife is wearing GOD ONLY KNOWS WHAT on her head. I will be HAPPY for someone to explain to me that this is some traditional Russian spackle-application headdress. Until then, I scoff.
Back at the Rostovs, Nikolai is home and everyone is totally excited, except me because I now see how fugly Sonya’s blue dress is:
The next day, Natasha is in an acceptable (from what I can see) blue day dress, while Sonya wears a nice Indian-esque floral print. The girls burst in on Nikolai and his army friend, and are treated to a bit of a show:
Natasha tries to pin Nikolai down about manning-up and marrying Sonya. He’s very petulant about it, although says he could never go back on his word. At least his gold printed dressing gown is gorgeous:
At the Bezukhovs, Pierre invites his old drinking buddy Dolokhov to stay at his house, and BitchWife is NOT PLEASED.
She decides to show her displeasure partially through anachronistic bias-draped necklines and too much sternum:
At dinner, the tension is thick as Pierre tries to smooth things over, Dolokhov is supercilious, and BitchWife confuses everyone with her COMPLETELY MODERN CLEAVAGE.
Yeah, it’s that time:
Over at the Bolkonskys, Dad decides it will be most helpful to yell at Lise about worrying. Because that’s going to help her relax. And then, a letter arrives telling them that Andrei has died. Prince Bolkonsky gets upset, but only after Marya leaves the room. By the time she’s back to say that she doesn’t think they should tell Lise, he’s back to woodcarving (and no, that’s not a euphemism).
Marya continues to rock the schoolmarm look, but I don’t mean that as a snark — it suits her! While Lise continues to have the best hair.
Back at the Bezukhovs, Pierre is unhappy with his life, causing him to contemplate a shitty portrait of himself that makes him look acne-scar-ridden:
He goes over to the Rostovs to visit their pigs and let Natasha cheer him up:
There, Natasha is entertaining Nikolai’s friend with her historical manic pixie dream girl “charming younger sister” dance, showing off her layers of petticoats:
Nikolai is out of uniform (seems odd, given how “I’m in the ARMY” he is), wearing a gorgeous pea green jacket that pairs beautifully with his gray waistcoat, so I forgive him.
While Pierre is away, Dolokov and BitchWife decide to test the weight-bearing capabilities of the dining table (because no servants would see this, oh no):
And when Pierre gets home, a well-dressed servant (all of them have been! nice livery! nice wigs!) delivers an anonymous note accusing BitchWife and Dolokov of having an affair.
BitchWife shows up to say “Later, I’m going to party without you” in a Studio 54-worthy charmeuse gown, with a fabulous long coat that has a collar that either doubles as a life vest or is one of those packable rain coats with a stuff-away-able hood:
At the Bolkonskys, Lise goes into labor, and Andrei turns up back from the dead… just in time to pat his wife on the head before she dies, mid-scream, in childbirth. (Note to those who know: does this happen? I guess blood loss or something?) The baby makes it, tho!
While Pierre heads off to a regimental dinner, where he’s shaken and out of it… then challenges Dolokov to a duel.
Then Pierre looks at Dolokov and basically goes:
To which Dolokov basically says:
What did you think of episode 2?