War & Peace (2016) Recap, Pt. 4

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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 four parts (six episodes if you’re in the UK), focusing on the costumes, praising what needs to be praised and snarking where it’s required.

We’ve arrived at the finale, part 4 US-style, and the second half of episode 5 plus all of episode 6 UK-style! Sadly nothing will ever be as good as War & Peace Barbie, but there’s a few gems to enjoy. Sadly, we have to wade through a lot of the “war” stuff to get to it (sigh).

Nappy says “IT’S WAR-TIME BROS!”

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Pierre wakes up to find out the battle has started! He gets dressed and runs outside, first thinking he’ll just be watching, but jumping in to help the cannoniers as he realizes the true chaos of battle. War and Peace (2016) War and Peace (2016)

Lots of this happens: War and Peace (2016)

Chicken hats and jaunty sailor caps abound: War and Peace (2016)

The French are jealous of the Russian’s chicken hats. War and Peace (2016)

A PUPPY GOES RUNNING THROUGH THE BATTLE. I AM DISTRAUGHT.

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Okay, I’m just going to choose to believe that right after this, he got a bath and a biscuit and a snuggly blankie on the couch.

Andrei is clearly in “fuck all this, I’m ready to die” mode:

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And he’s seriously wounded. In the medical tent, he gets laid next to Douchebag, who is (satisfyingly) screaming while having his leg amputated. *gets popcorn, runs this scene back a few times* War and Peace (2016)

They have a moment. Clearly Andrei has made peace with the world. War and Peace (2016)

Nappy ain’t happy. The Russians have taken huge losses, but so has he.

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Back in Moscow, there’s a lot of this going on as everyone GTFOs of town… because the Russians have decided not to stop the French from taking the city.

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Petya is out and about, and goes running home with the news that the French are here.

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Even boys get the fab high collars in this era!

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Remember kids, more pigs = more authentic!

Inside, the family is frantically packing to leave town.

Dad is keeping it jaunty in his embroidered cap.

Dad is keeping it jaunty in his embroidered cap.

Mom is wearing a fugly, high-necked dress with Venice lace, but at least it hits her in the right places -- plus a coat with fur collar.

Mom is wearing a fugly, high-necked dress with Venice lace, but at least it hits her in the right places — plus a coat with fur collar.

Natasha has a floral-patterned pelisse (long coat) on.

Natasha has a floral-patterned pelisse (long coat) on.

Sonja continues to prove she is unlicensed for print mixing in her plaid-and-floral dress, with a 1970s paisley print overdress.

Sonja continues to prove she is unlicensed for print mixing in her plaid-and-floral dress, with a 1970s paisley print overdress.

Natasha is worried about all the wounded soldiers she sees outside, so she goes out to invite them to shelter at their house.

While wearing a gorgeous embroidered shawl!

While wearing a gorgeous embroidered shawl!

Back inside, Natasha fights with Mom about leaving more of their stuff behind to make room for wounded soldiers, and then has a moment where she and Sonja confirm that they still love each other (post-Douchebag debacle).

Natasha's coat has pink piped seamlines, which is cute. I like how the back goes up into that high V, with the interior pleats opening up.

Natasha’s coat has pink piped seamlines, which is cute. I like how the back goes up into that high V, with the interior pleats opening up.

Here you can see Sonja's paisley thing is a 3/4 length over-robe/coat.

Here you can see Sonja’s paisley thing is a 3/4 length over-robe/coat.

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The super-long sleeves are accurate to the period. Note there’s also pink piping on the cuffs.

And the Rostovs head out of town:

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On their way, Natasha spots a not-doing-too-well Pierre.

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Pierre heads home, where a French officer has taken over his house. At first he’s pissed, but the officer is very “let’s be civilized” (in an accent that is HOT) and the two end up drinking wine together late into the night.
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Later/the next day, Pierre is heading through the streets when he finds a frantic mother whose daughter is stuck inside a burning building. I’m unclear whether it’s the Russians or the French who have set fire to things (much of Moscow is on fire), but the French aren’t letting anyone go into the building to save the child. Pierre does anyway, rescuing the girl, but then is arrested by the French.

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Sonja spots Andrei among the wounded traveling with the Rostovs. She tells Natasha, who goes to nurse him in the middle of the night in her nightie. He is very forgiving and sweet and at one with the universe.

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Nikolai goes to see Marya before heading out of whatever small town they’re all in.

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I hope you like this red Venice lace chemisette-sort-of-thing, because you’re going to see a lot of it! They’re still having fitting problems with Marya’s bust, but the fact that this is pleated instead of darted makes it less egregious.

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At the Rostov’s temporary home, Petya has joined the army, and Mom thinks the family is screwed unless Nikolai can marry for money. She lays into Sonja, who is all, “Got it.”

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Sonja remains committed to the paisleys.

Dad is increasingly out of it.War and Peace (2016)

Pierre is still a prisoner of the French. He’s marched to where they’re executing Russians, but luckily doesn’t get shot himself.War and Peace (2016)

Nice scenery!War and Peace (2016)

Natasha heads up the Nurse Andrei brigade. The two have a lot of heart-to-hearts, where they forgive each other and apologize to each other and love each other.

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Really hard to see what she’s wearing here, other than the tiny neckline frill.

Sonja writes Nikolai a letter releasing him from their engagement.War and Peace (2016)

Nikolai gets the letter and is only 3 words into it when he’s says, “THANK GOD.” Whatever, Nik.War and Peace (2016)

Sonja has a sad.

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While wearing a red velvet pelisse.

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The Russian army wants to push its success in the big battle, but General Kutuzhof won’t let them. He wants to let Napoleon & Co. starve it out.War and Peace (2016)

Nappy ain’t happy. The Russians won’t come fight, and supplies are running low. I don’t know why he’s cranky when he’s in this gorgeous room.War and Peace (2016) War and Peace (2016)

In prison, Pierre meets a poor man who has life figured out. He’s calm, he’s kind, he’s accepting, he’s sharing. And he has a REALLY CUTE DOG.War and Peace (2016)

BitchWife is Not Good. Her pregnancy is starting to show, and she doesn’t know Pierre is in prison, so keeps writing asking him to help her annul their marriage. A “doctor” visits her and gives her an abortifacient.

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Okay, so this is kind of interesting! It appears to be a bodiced petticoat, meaning a petticoat that also has an attached bodice — something worn in this era due to the high waistlines — over a separate chemise.

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Then we’re on to a 1930s sheer robe.

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And back. See the overlapping armholes? Clearly 2 garments here. Technically, her chemise would have short sleeves, but I’m impressed they went for 2 layers.

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This is the coat she wore ice-skating with Pierre way back when.

Marya gets the news about Andrei, and travels to the Rostovs’ temporary home to visit him.War and Peace (2016)

When she gets there, Mom and Dad are all weird, pushing her to have tea, when all she wants is to see Nikolai. Luckily Natasha gets it and takes her there immediately.

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Mom in her print-mixing shortgown-type thing, with her white Venice lace collar over it.

Natasha tells Marya that they were hopeful about Andrei’s recovery, but he’s taken a turn for the worse and things don’t look good.

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Marya’s sticking with the red Venice lace/cross-over gown.

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Natasha’s black dress has a fur edging along the neckline.

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Marya’s cloak has a multi-colored trim on the capelet.

Andrei receives last rites.War and Peace (2016)

As he dies, he has visions of his first wife Lise and Natasha.War and Peace (2016) War and Peace (2016)

Nice church!War and Peace (2016)

Nappy REALLY ain’t happy. He says it’s time to abandon Moscow. Apparently he’s spent the entire time he’s been there in this one room.War and Peace (2016) War and Peace (2016)

As the French march out of Moscow, they take their prisoners — including Pierre and his new friend — with them.War and Peace (2016)

The prisoners stand aside to let calvary through. Pierre sees the French guy who he drank with and calls out to him, but Frenchie just ignores him.War and Peace (2016)

The whores go too!War and Peace (2016)

In what might be the greatest pan in cinematic history, BitchWife goes to a party at Bridesmaid-of-the-Week’s in the sheerest dress you’ve ever seen. MAYBE NOT THE BEST LOOK IF YOU’RE TRYING TO HIDE A PREGNANCY?

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Wait for it…

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She must be wearing a flesh-colored body stocking, because there’s no bush and no nipples. I have vague memories of these actually existing in the period, for wearing under super sheer gowns such as this… does anyone remember this better than me?

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I’m unclear what’s up with the sort-of mid-to-late 18th century sack back (the long pleats that go from neckline to hem in back).

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She approaches Frodo, but he blanks her and walks away with Miss Gold Lamé 1812.War and Peace (2016)

Bridesmaid-in-Waiting comes to her and says, “You have to leave. Why did you come in the first place?” So much for friends!War and Peace (2016)

At home, BitchWife drinks all the abortifacient (she was supposed to take 2 drops a day), killing herself. There’s a lot of blood.

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I will say, this dress — while yes, SUPER sheer, which did happen with the extra-super-beyond-fashion-forward 1% — might be Helene’s most appropriate to the period.

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Pierre and his friend continue their forced march with the French. The friend can’t keep up, so the French shoot him, and the DOG GOES TO HIM AND LAYS DOWN AND IS NEVER HEARD FROM AGAIN. I SO DEEPLY, TRULY, PASSIONATELY OBJECT.War and Peace (2016)

Natasha grieves Andrei. She has a conversation with his dead spirit, essentially telling him she’ll always love him and remember him.

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She wore this dress after the Douchebag debacle.

There’s a looooong, drawn-out, complicated series of scenes in which Denisov and Dolokhov are leading a band of Russian soldiers in anti-French guerilla warfare. Petya shows up, and Denisov takes him on. It’s far too complicated and I refuse to recap it.War and Peace (2016) War and Peace (2016)

The only costume thing of note is that conveniently, the French wear hat-condoms, so when Dolokhov and Petya go undercover into their camp, no one is the wiser.War and Peace (2016)

At the end of this series of zzzzz, Petya is killed (Denisov and the Rostovs are distraught!) and Pierre is rescued.

Kutuzhof continues to wait out Nappy.War and Peace (2016)

Dad Rostov dies. Everyone has a sad.

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Mom goes full veil.

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Dolokhov and randos. Is that a FUR-LINED bonnet on the far right?

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Natasha’s bonnet. I’m not sure if I like it or not. It kind of looks like a top hat that someone modified into a bonnet?

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Pierre is back in Moscow! After sleeping for days, he shaves and cuts his hair and dresses.

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Marya goes to visit the Rostovs, who are back in Moscow but living in rented rooms in (comparative) poverty.

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Sticking with the grey/blue dress — I’ll bet that red Venice lace thing is underneath there.

Nikolai is mortified by this, so he’s a dick to Marya.War and Peace (2016)

Natasha and Marya are happy to see each other. Marya invites the Rostovs to come live with them.

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In the black taffeta she wore after the Douchebag debacle.

Nikolai is SO not into it, but Mom insists. Despite apparently not seeing Marya in a while, Mom Rostov is conveniently wearing the chemisette that Marya wore when her father died. HMMMM.

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Also? That is SUCH a synthetic velvet.

Sonja tells Nikolai that he shouldn’t dump Marya on her behalf. He thanks her and asks her how she got to be so self-sacrificing, and she tells him she’s had a lot of practice.

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A new “the poor didn’t want this” dress for poor Sonja.

Nikolai goes to visit Marya because Mom says he has to.War and Peace (2016)

Mlle. Bourienne gets the picture and skedaddles.War and Peace (2016)

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Her dress is interesting! The puffed sleeves and square neckline seem like it’s leaning towards the later part of the decade. And you can’t go wrong with black.

Nikolai is all “My family is poor and it’s my fault (YES, YOU’RE RIGHT), so I’m going to be a dick.” Marya is luckily far better than him, so basically says to stop it and she still feels for him. They kiss. It’s actually pretty sweet on her behalf — I’m glad she gets to be happy — although he doesn’t deserve her.

War and Peace (2016)
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Marya is in a Renaissance-inspired (note the gold puffs along the sleeves) dark red velvet dress, with a sheer black chemisette with gold trim at the neckline.

Pierre, heading through town, runs into Prince Kuragin who is not doing well. Kuragin confirms that both his kids (so, Douchebag and BitchWife) are dead.
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Pierre goes to visit Marya.

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Marya is in LOVE with this grey/blue dress.

He’s surprised to find Natasha there — apparently the Rostovs did move in.

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Natasha pulls out her Orientalist headscarf, but this time I like it — it’s styled in a more period-appropriate manner. Her dress has a nice print.

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Marya’s “chemisette” (if you can call it that, it looks like a weird 1970s blouse randomly worn under her dress) is a new one.

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Natasha has a feeling about things.War and Peace (2016)

Pierre goes back to Marya’s.
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He tells Marya that he can’t stop thinking about Natasha and he loves her, and does she think she could ever love him? Marya says, “Ask her yourself!” and gets Natasha.

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Marya is in what at first glance appears to be her same old grey/blue dress, but it suddenly has short sleeves with 1740s cuffs. WTF?

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Same dress as the night before.

Pierre proposes. Natasha says yes. I’m glad for Pierre, but I think Natasha is going for “still alive” rather than “love of my life.”War and Peace (2016)

Five years later (so 1817ish)… Andrei’s son is a teenager, and Natsha has multiple children.

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The puffs on Natasha’s dress are right for the Renaissance revival trend of this period.

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Sonja is apparently happy to die an old maid (maybe she and Mlle Bourienne are having a secret affair?).

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Sonja has finally figured out print mixing! Her lavender print pairs nicely with the peachy shawl.

Nikolai and Marya have kids and are happy.

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Nikolai has gone full rustic/traditional Russian. Marya apparently can never change her hair, although this lavender print gown is certainly a nice change from all her dowdy stuff.

Pierre and Natasha are very happy too.

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Pierre: also gone full rustic/traditional Russian.

And Mom Rostov is happy!

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Great shawl! Mom hasn’t changed her hair either, but that seems expected.

And we’re out!

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About the author

Kendra

Website

Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

7 Responses

  1. Janette

    The costumes look very Meh to me too but at least there are no outright howlers. I am glad that it does, roughly vaguely stick to the story. I had the impression from the Guardian blog that the scene where Natasha persuades her parents to ditch the china and take the wounded had been cut so am glad to be wrong. That is one of my favourite “moments” in the book and the most re-winded scene in the 72 version.
    I assume the scene with Napoleon was filmed in the Kremlin. He did have a favourite room, so it might well be the very one.
    AS to the fires I don’t think anyone ever knew absolutely who started them though most histories record that they were lit by the Russians however, always the contrarian, Tolstoy argued that “an abandoned city will burn”. HE was very much of the “things just happen” mindset.

    Reply
  2. Janette

    Oh and apologies for the double posting but I wanted to say how much I have enjoyed your War and Peace blog. Thank you.
    Saturday mornings will not be the same now.

    Reply
  3. Lady Hermina De Pagan

    Ok, the white dress with the back p leats are very sacque backed dress from the 1680-1720. Also I remember reading that “loose women” would soak their petticoats in water so they would appear sheer and cling to their shapes.

    Reply
  4. hsc

    “She must be wearing a flesh-colored body stocking, because there’s no bush and no nipples. I have vague memories of these actually existing in the period, for wearing under super sheer gowns such as this… does anyone remember this better than me?”

    I recall hearing something about this (art history class?), as well the part in Lady Herminia’s response about going around in wet clinging draperies– though I heard it as trying to more closely emulate Greek sculpture.

    Margaret J. Bailey’s “Those Glorious Glamour Years: Classic Hollywood Costume Design of the 1930’s” (Citadel Press, 1982) describes a still of Loretta Young in a back-lit sheer gown by Gwen Wakeling for “The House of Rothschild” (UA, 1934):

    “…set in Napoleonic times, when styles attempted a Greek revival. Many fashionable ladies then wore flesh-colored tights underneath very sheer garments, like the costume on Loretta Young. Young is completely covered with long sleeves and a high neck, but the gown is very provocative.”

    Reply
    • Kendra

      Because it’s such a fascinating thing, I’m posting Alden Tullis O’Brien’s Facebook comment: “Can’t figure out how to post a reply on the site, so to answer your question about the flesh colored body stocking for Bitchwife: They were called “invisible petticoats” and the descriptions I’ve seen are for a single tube of knitted silk (tho there’s another description of flesh colored satin breeches too). Susan Sibbald’s memoirs quoted by Waugh in Corsets and Crinolines: “they were woven in the stocking loom, and were like strait waist-caots…but only drawn down over the legs….so that when walking, you were obliged to take short and mincing steps.” So, no view of space between individual legs.”

      Reply

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