War & Peace (2016) Recap, Pt. 2

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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.

As we discovered in the last post, this show is being edited down for US viewers. Boo! I’m going to keep recapping the British version, because there might be plot points or costumes that are interesting. So, this is going to be LONG, because it’s essentially episodes 3 and half of 4, UK-style.

We pick up with the duel between Pierre and Dolokhov, which Pierre somehow manages to win, although he only wounds Dolokhov.

War and Peace (2016)

Lots of long coats, lots of fur.

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When Pierre gets home, he interrupts a giggly moment between BitchWife and Douchebag. Douchebag slimes his way out, while BitchWife — wearing her implausible devoré velvet robe, whines about how the duel negatively affects her.

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Just a tender moment between siblings.

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Douchebag loves his cranberry waistcoat.

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Devoré velvet. Developed at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries.

Pierre heads for the country. En route he meets a guy who inspires him to consider getting religion, joining the Freemasons, and finding hope in giving his life to others.

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Andrei and family have a baptism for his son, but Andrei is bleak.War and Peace (2016)

He and dad agree that he should get his own place near the family ranch.

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Why is Prince Bolkonsky wearing a wig for a country walk?

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At the Rostovs, Nikolai needs some money, and his super cool dad is all, “Daw, boys. Here you go sonny! Try to make it last!”

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I do love those high, high Regency collars on guys. Yum.

Dolokhov is staying with the Rostovs, and he seems inappropriately into Sonja … who joins Natasha in wearing simple blue gowns, Sonja’s with short sleeves, Natasha with long. But, hallelujah, Natasha found some hairpins!

War and Peace (2016)
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The embroidered shawl is quite lovely. The blush and lipstick on a young lady? Not so much.

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Mom is very vestment-fabric-y.

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Nikolai doesn’t seem to notice Dolokhov’s interest in Sonja.

Later, Natasha and Sonja have an in-bed chat about true wuv and boys and stuff. Natasha starts out in a robe, then ends up in what is probably a bodiced petticoat, but seems to have lost her shift/chemise (which should be under the bodiced petticoat).

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The undermost layer should be a shift/chemise with short sleeves — not sleeveless.

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The next day, the boys have fun practicing fighting out in the barn, after which Dolokhov shares some creepy thoughts about how young and innocent Sonja and Natasha are. Nikolai is oblivious.

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Back inside, Natasha is mazurka crazy. Denisov, another friend of Nikolai’s who has also been staying with them, turns out to be a mad mazurka-ing genius. I spend the scene distracted by Natasha’s badly-thought-out lace neckline trim, which flops over unattractively.

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Wouldn’t it be hard to do a super kicky dance in big boots?

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Mom and Dad are basically like…

Hopefully there's a few Brits out there who get me.

Hopefully there’s a few Brits out there who get me.

Natasha is thrilled, but less so when after a dance, he proposes. She turns him down.

War and Peace (2016)

There’s that terrible lace placement. Look, people, you either need to gather it at the attachment edge and let it lay DOWN, or ditch it.

Meanwhile, Pierre has decided to join the Freemasons in his quest to redeem his life. He goes through a secret ceremony:

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While unsupervised, BitchWife heads to a soirée wearing a dress made from your Floridian grandmother’s curtains.War and Peace (2016)

There, she sees Frodo, finds him totally hot, and finagles an introduction.War and Peace (2016) War and Peace (2016)

Back at the Rostovs, Dolokhov has proposed to Sonja — didn’t see that one coming! She turned him down. Natasha runs out to tell Nikolai, wearing a dress made from your grandmother’s 1970s curtains.

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THAT SLEEVE. UGH.

Sonja and Nikolai have a moment, where she’s all “I LURVE YOU and I ask nothing of you” and he’s all “I can’t promise you anything.” She’s wearing a green printed spencer with a very modern decorator fabric print and stupid balls on the princess seams.

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Thankfully, a lot of money seems to have been spent on the men’s uniforms, so I’m able to spend scenes like this admiring all that gold braid. (Military peeps, let us know how accurate these are!)War and Peace (2016)

Pierre is inspired by his new Freemasonry. He visits his estates, determined to improve the lives of his serfs. (Well, you could free them, but that’s crazytalk). He’s all natural in his straw hat and his what-looks-to-my-uneducated-eye-as-a-more-traditional-Russian robe.
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While Pierre tries to do something good with his life, BitchWife has Frodo over and the two start an affair. He looks pretty good in that giant fur collar. I actually kind of like her robe with the embroidered bands, but the bias-draped nightie underneath ruins things.

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Didn’t know you had it in you, Frodo!

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LOOK, PEOPLE. BIAS WAS A HUGE DEAL IN THE 1930S PRECISELY BECAUSE IT WASN’T MUCH USED BEFORE THEN. LOOK IT UP.

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Nice embroidery, tho!

Meanwhile, king of good decisions Nikolai — after being given some money from pops and being warned that the family’s finances are tight — attends an all-night gambling party where he loses over, and over, and over to Dolokhov. Who is clearly cheating, because no one can lose that much.

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I think they’re playing faro, although Dolokhov as dealer deals three cards each time, and I understood it to be two.

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The next morning, Nikolai heads home, owing THOUSANDS of rubles to Dolokhov. This production clearly took a page from Pride & Prejudice in thinking “more pigs = more authentic.”

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“‘Sup pigs?”

He finds Natasha singing — in Russian, which, if we’re speaking English, shouldn’t we be singing in English? — and joins her for a duet. He’s all teary-eyed and clearly regretting his folly. He goes to dad and confesses, and dad is SUPER COOL ABOUT IT. Nikolai claims he feels HORRIBLE. We’ll see.

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Nikolai and Denisov head back to the war, at which point a ChickenHat informs them that Tsar Alexander the Hot has signed a treaty with Napoleon. Russia and France are now allies! Nikolai needs Denisov to ‘splain this to him, because apparently he’s slow. Nikolai is PISSED.War and Peace (2016)

Back at the Bolkonskys, Andrei has set up house in a rustic home on his family’s estate.War and Peace (2016)

We can tell that he’s 1) sensitive and 2) bleak because he communes with what seems to be a dead tree on his land.War and Peace (2016)

Pierre turns up, all countrified.War and Peace (2016)

He tries to inspire Andrei to reengage with life, but Andrei is Team Remorse.War and Peace (2016)

During a walk in some lovely scenery (film crew: “YES! GET THE CAMERAS NOW!”), Andrei starts to let a bit of Pierre’s hope in.War and Peace (2016) War and Peace (2016)

They go to visit Andrei’s family. Andrei continues to be down-with-the-peeps in a rustic striped shirt and waistcoat — nothing like the fancy uniforms he used to wear. Mademoiselle Bourienne remains committed to wearing my 1980s nylon-fiber floral-print canopy bed cover as a dress.War and Peace (2016) War and Peace (2016)

Pierre and Marya catch up. She’s in a very traditional-looking, but still fashionably high-waisted, dress.War and Peace (2016)

Dad Bolkonsky is a jerk. He asks Andrei to go visit the Rostovs, because Dad Rostov hasn’t sent enough men to the militia.War and Peace (2016)

Andrei heads off to the Rostovs’ country house (they’ve had to close up the Moscow house because Nikolai was an ass and gambled away all their money). On his way, he sees Natasha, scampering about in the flowers with the peasant girls, as all good Historical Manic Pixie Dream Girls do.War and Peace (2016)

Andrei has made an attempt, wearing a lovely high-collared camel-colored wool waistcoat — yum — topped with a heavy navy wool coat. Yummy yum!

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Dad Rostov remains committed to his caps, this one with nice folk-y embroidery.War and Peace (2016)

Natasha meets Andrei, but more importantly, SHE HAS FINALLY RETHOUGHT HER HAIR. THANK YOU BABY JESUS. Clearly the bangs were there to make her look STUPID younger.War and Peace (2016)

Andrei spends the night. In a beautifully lit evening scene, he overhears Natasha and Sonja singing and then talking about how Natasha LIKE likes him.War and Peace (2016) War and Peace (2016)

The next day, Andrei goes home to … dum dum DUM! His seemingly dead tree has budded!

War and Peace (2016)

Symbolism, yo!

Meanwhile, Pierre is on a quest to truly transform his life. His Freemason buddy encourages him to forgive those who have wronged him, which, sure, but Mr. Freemason hasn’t met BitchWife. Pierre writes to her and suggests that they resume married life. She packs her bags and shows up at his house wearing THE MOST GODAWFUL PRINT I HAVE EVER SEEN. I literally laughed out loud when I saw this.

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What the…

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Is it like some kind of modern faux-Japanese quilting print?

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Paired with sparkly silver lurex sleeves? That bonnet is pretty tragic, too.

Later, BitchWife is continuing her affair with Frodo, but she’s very “time to move along, sonny” and encourages him to get married. To someone else.

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It’s time for the Tsar’s ball, and Natasha and Sonja will be coming out! Natasha is nervous, but mom soothes her.War and Peace (2016)

Tsar’s ball time! YES I would like this palace, please.War and Peace (2016)

Although Natasha’s dress is more 1910s than 1800s, I don’t hate it. It helps that it’s in white, and symmetrical, and they had some vague idea of where her boobs were. Sonja looks fine.
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Bridesmaid-in-Waiting is there. They put her in a 1980s bridesmaid dress, adding a pleated crepe standing bit to try to distract us … and a KICKASS crown.

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Pierre and BitchWife are there. BitchWife is wearing an unoffensive gown, more 1912 than 1809ish but whatever, that’s clearly made from a sari.War and Peace (2016)

Tsar Alexander the Hot sees BitchWife and takes her off to dance.War and Peace (2016)

Natasha is super stressed that no one is asking her to dance — she looks good, but I guess everyone knows she’s po’. Luckily Andrei is there. We find out from Pierre that he’s reenaged in his life, rejoining the military and cleaning shit up. He spots Natasha and swaggers over, soulfully, to ask her mom if he can dance with Natasha.

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HELLO SILVER BRAID AND EMBROIDERY. I LIKE YOU. COME SIT BY ME.

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Mom is in a very Indian fabric dress, and Dad has managed to leave his cap at home for once.

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Andrei and Natasha dance, and it’s clearly MAGIC.

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I peered at this for a while, and I’m pretty sure it’s a hook and eye, not the top of a zipper.

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Meanwhile Pierre looks angsty (note: I do approve that there’s some foreshadowing of what’s going to happen to his character, as opposed to the 2007 version in which his final fate seems to come out of nowhere).

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Soon thereafter, Andrei and Natasha go for a giggly, fur-hatted walk in the snow, with poor Sonja straggling behind as chaperone.War and Peace (2016)

Andrei makes a move!

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Andrei goes to Pierre and is all “I’M IN LOVE. Should I marry her?” To which Pierre is all, “DUH, yes, I certainly would!”

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Nice waistcoat, Pierre!

Natasha and Mom have a heart-to-heart. She hasn’t seen Andrei in weeks, and she’s in LURVE.

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Where’s Andrei? He’s at home, trying to get his dad’s permission. Dad actually doesn’t freak out, but asks Andrei to wait a year before marrying (penniless) Natasha.

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Finally, Andrei shows up and proposes! Hooray! Except, he tells Natasha about the whole waiting a year thing. Boo. He tells her that she should consider herself free, while he considers himself committed. She agrees, at least to the waiting a year thing.

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Mom in a very pretty paisley silk fabric.

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Andrei has to go to Switzerland, randomly. Natasha stoicly sees him off.

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Some time passes. Natasha is out wolf hunting (I guess there’s not much fox hunting in Russia?) with Nikolai and many others. She’s wearing a stupid, not-very-Empire hat with a stupid veil.

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We see evidence that Natasha is deep, because she has a moment of communing with the wolf — who we later learn does indeed get killed. Thanks.
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Nikolai is pissy about Natasha being engaged but having to wait. Which is kind of outstanding, given the whole Sonja situation.War and Peace (2016)

Speaking of which, Mom Rostov has come up with a fabulous plan to save the family’s dire finances. Nikolai should marry heiress Julie Karagina! Nikolai is very “GOD MOM, I can’t marry someone I don’t love.” While Mom is basically all, “Uh, you’re the reason our family is destitute. YOU OWE US.” Which, she has a point.

War and Peace (2016)
War and Peace (2016)

I have questions about the shoulder seam on Nikolai’s waistcoat. Usually, that seam is towards the back, so that you can’t see the back fabric from the front. Anyone seen any period waistcoats cut like this?

The Rostovs head out to the country to visit very-rustic Uncle Mikhail. Everyone is Team Rustic, breaking out the thick woolens in traditional patterns.

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Uncle Mikhail lives with a peasant woman who is very boobalicious in a renfaire sort of way, and NOT HIS WIFE (clutches pearls). At one point in the evening, she starts singing, and the many other serfs there start playing instruments. It’s traditional Russian folk music time.

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Then, one of the most PAINFUL THINGS EVER HAPPENS. Natasha does that “can’t help moving to the beat” thing.

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She slowly rises up, shoulders going up and down, and improvises a dance.

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It’s very:

Even better:

Voice over 1: “How does she know how to do that?”

Voice over 2: “It’s in the blood.”

EVEN BETTER: she ends the dance by running to her uncle’s side, biting her nails and giggling, in that whole “WAS THAT ME? DID I JUST DO THAT? *bat*bat*” way.

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Afterwards, Uncle Mikhail’s girlfriend tells a story about how you can learn your fortune if you go out to the barn. Sonja is brave and heads out there. Nikolai follows her, gets all passionate and kisses her.

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Back at the Rostovs, Nikolai decides to just randomly stand up and declare his love for Sonja and intention of marrying her.
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Sonja in her mustard print dress, which at least isn’t worn with a clashing print; Natasha in her 1970s curtain dress.

This is all nice and good, but as Mom rightly points out, NIKOLAI IS THE ONE WHO FUCKED THEIR FINANCES, AND SHOULD BE THE ONE TO FIX IT. Mom basically freaks out, accusing Sonja of being a schemer. Natasha tries to smooth things over.

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Mom is wearing a green print dress with a nice Renaissance revival sheer organza chemisette.

And — sorry Brits, that’s where the US version stops, right in the middle of episode 4. We’ll pick back up next Friday!

Did Natasha’s dance number make you puke, too? Is Helene really from the 1910s?

37 Responses

  1. James Grant Repshire

    I am a military historian, though not particularly knowledgeable on Napoleonic-era Russian uniforms; however, in reference to your comment on the gold braid, the uniform is historically accurate as far as the colors go. Nikolai is an officer in the Pavlograd Hussars, who did wear green jackets with gold braid (and a light blue pelisse – that short jacket that is often only worn on the left arm – as seen in other scenes). Other hussar regiments wore other color combinations. I’ve noticed that most of the Russian soldiers in this adaptation wear green jackets, though blue, black, grey, and even red could be found in the Russian army. I think the producers wanted to keep it simple for the audience with a Russian soldiers = Green, French = blue scheme, although uniforms were not this simple in any national army at the time. Napoleon is shown wearing his blue Imperial Guard uniform every time we see him; however, in the field I believe he often wore a green cavalry uniform with a grey overcoat (I think they dispensed with this so the audience would not confuse him for a Russian). If any other military history types know more and want to add to this or correct me, I’d be interested in hearing about it too.

    Reply
      • James Grant Repshire

        You’re welcome, wish I knew more. Reenactors are often the people to ask on these sorts of things. Also nice to note that at least in this episode, the gentlemen wore breeches, shoes and stockings rather than boots to the ball. So many historical dramas set in this period love to keep the men in the boots in inappropriate situations. Probably as it looks more “manly” to the modern eye.

        Reply
      • Sarah E.

        That reminds me– last time I rewatched Back to the Future III, I realized that Doc and Clara are dancing the polka, which I suspect was pretty accurate. 1885 would have been very much the tail end of the polka craze, but it makes sense for a community dance in a small frontier town.

        Reply
  2. Stephani

    Thank you again for watching this atrocity and reporting back. Maybe the costumers did their women’s shopping at a discount drapery fabric shop? Kind of what it looks like…

    Reply
    • Kendra

      It’s actually pretty funny, because I’m writing my snark in my head the whole time and picturing everyone’s responses…

      Reply
      • Black Tulip

        It’s the last episode here in the UK on Sunday, and in a weird way I’m actually going to miss it once it’s over – just sitting there going What. The. ???? for an hour!

        Reply
  3. Emily Barry

    All the loose hair is killing me! It was at a low simmer of annoyance through most of it, but then I got to the “peasant woman” at the end, and AAAAH! Couldn’t they at least let her confine it in braids, which I think was traditional in Russia anyway? All I can think is that they must have absolutely no idea what it’s like to have long hair, even setting aside historical accuracy for a moment. My hair is just past my waist, and I feel like screaming after a very short period of time if I try to do much of anything with it loose, all flying in my face and wrapping around my arms and falling in the dishwater… NOPE.

    Is it the modern association with updos=formal vs. loose=casual/”down-to-earth” that keeps modern films stuck on this ridiculousness?

    Reply
      • Susan Pola

        The Great Bobby Pin Shortage can be blamed for so many things: Whorewife not being eaten by Drogon, Douchebag not being killed by either poison, shooting or strangling, Frodo’s poor taste in women. But the most important is the inaccuracies of costume, boob support, and why the director and screenwriter don’t understand the Russian Soul.

        Reply
        • Sarah E

          These reviews have been prompting me to look up the 1960s Russian version, which lasts about six hours and was released originally as several feature films. The costumes look pretty good; the film also cost a fortune, took six years to make and gave the director (who also played Pierre) two heart attacks. Also I think the Russian army was played by the actual Russian army.

          Reply
  4. Janette

    Urgh. I am not even half way through reading this and have to keep stopping because it is unbearable. What has Andrew DAvies done to my favourite story?? Natasha on the balcony talking about her attraction to Prince Andrey? NO no no and even more no. Tolstoy would have passed the Bechdel test but not Davies. Natasha talks about the beauty of the night, the magnificent stars and the moon and speculates on flying away. She does not mention Andrey and he is struck by the fact that to her he does not exist. This inspires him to reengage with world. This is such an important moment in his development and in illustrating her character that to change is is nothing short of sacrilege.
    Also and I may be wrong on this as I have watched the old TV series so much that I forget the book but I do not recall Nicoli wasting the family fortune on cards. It was the old count who squandered the money on parties for the children.
    I am so grateful for this blog. I was undecided as to whether to watch this adaptation or not. Now I have made up my mind, I will stick with re watching the old series and satisfy my curiosity about the new with this wonderful blog.

    Reply
    • James Grant Repshire

      Nikolai does gamble away a significant portion of the family money in the book. Dolokhov goads him into gambling and beats him repeatedly (possibly through cheating), in full knowledge that he is putting Nikolai into much more debt than he can afford. The book makes sure that you know Dolokhov does it in revenge for Sonja rejecting his proposal, believing Nikolai encouraged her to reject him. Nikolai then promises his father that he will return to active service in the army, and will live as frugally as possible while doing so.

      Reply
      • James Grant Repshire

        Also, though some of the female costuming is questionable, I’d encourage anyone to watch this adaptation, the acting and cinematography are brilliant and I think make up for it. It is a rare thing to find any historical piece that doesn’t take liberties with costumes.

        Reply
      • Janette

        The book however does specifically lay the blame for the families financial woes primarily upon their lifestyle and their propensity to offer hospitality to all and sundry. They are supporting numerous retainers as well as always hosting at least 20 staying guests. Nicholay’s gamboling losses only acerbates and already deteriorating situation.There is also the issue of the girl’s dowries but I’m guessing Vera has been dropped from this version, not that I blame A.D for that. She was rather expendable as a character.

        Reply
        • James Grant Repshire

          Yes, this adaptation does make it clear from the beginning that the family is already in financial trouble and that the old count’s generosity doesn’t help the situation.

          Reply
          • Janette

            Fair enough then. I have not yet and may not watch this production. I am still curious about some aspects of it and would love to see the settings. ST Petersberg is one of my favourite cities.

            Reply
  5. mmcquown

    Perhaps the one-shoulder dress isn’t quite as far out as all that. I remember someone talking about Josephine wearing a Roman-style dress that was supposed to have two straps crossing over in front. On some occasion, she wore only one, leaving a breast bare. Having seen the goblet moulded on one of the Imperial Court lady’s breast, anything is possible.

    Reply
    • Melinda

      mmcquown
      February 5th, 2016

      Perhaps the one-shoulder dress isn’t quite as far out as all that. I remember someone talking about Josephine wearing a Roman-style dress that was supposed to have two straps crossing over in front. On some occasion, she wore only one, leaving a breast bare. Having seen the goblet moulded on one of the Imperial Court lady’s breast, anything is possible.

      Yes, possibly in warm Paris, but not in cold Moscow! Or else, BitchWife would freeze to death soon … to our pleasure :D Also I miss the lavish, elegant and aristocratic russian court ensembles, with the heavy court train, elaborate adornments, cut in the “old russian” style, etc…

      Reply
    • Susan Pola

      I thought it was that tart, Pauline Bonaparte, she had a breast fetish on her own breast. She commissioned wine goblets in shape of her breasts.

      Still, of Nappy’s family, my favourites are the ones he got by marriage: Josephine, Hortense, Eugene and Marie Louise. The rest are meh.

      Reply
  6. Bess

    Hello, I’m a long time admirer of your work, and first time commenting. I actually have a lot of friends in Napoleonic reenactment and I’ve got quite an interest in it myself so I can give you a few things on those uniforms. First of all yes the pavlograd hussard color scheme is good (and yes, Napoleon did wear his green Horse Chasseurs of the Imperial Guard uniform pretty much all the time on the battlefield). My main qualms are about the overall fit. Those uniforms all seem nearly theatrical : the golden braid would be much thicker and less modern, the collar is way too open, the belt is worn on the hips, but it should be on the waist, otherwise it’s useless in battle, the dolman is not cut correctly (too low, and on the back you can’t see the distinctive pattern). Frodo’s uniform seems off too, (the golden front in particular) but I’m not sure which regiment he’s supposed to be – orevall it looks like a carabinier. Oh and Dolokhov black shift is NOT historical (someone really ought to write something on those, they pop up way too frequently on ‘historical’ movies/tv shows).

    On a side note : those waistcoat fits are not great either. Douchebag’s is a horror : what is this crease?

    Reply
    • James Grant Repshire

      Good info, I had thought that the gold braid looked a bit thin too, but am no way qualified to say for sure, it was more of an instinctive thought. I’ll have to look at the sword belts too, swords are often really badly depicted in historical films, both in their display and use. The sword fighting/training as depicted in this has been pretty bad, but most historical films have bad sword fighting. Actual historic swordplay was much more controlled than the big slashing movements you see in film.

      On uniforms, I’m thinking that Andrei’s white uniform at the ball is pretty much made up, I know some Russian Guards regiments wore white, but I doubt with that amount of lace. Then again, I know it was also acceptable for wealthy officers in those days to take stylistic liberties with their uniforms if they could afford the tailoring. I’m not sure what regiment Andrei is in at this point, I recall from the novel he was assigned to some level of General Staff that was working on national army reforms. I did like that at Austerlitz they show men wearing the very oversized and slightly silly-looking (to modern eyes) cocked hats. Some historical films size them down to look a bit less overstated.

      Reply
      • Bess

        Yes I was a bit skeptical too for Andrei’s white uniform. The sheer level of canetille can only be consistent with a marshal or general of division. And none of the all-white uniforms I know look like that. Then again, those superior officer did accomodate what they wore to their fashion taste – Murat pretty much changed his for each different battle.

        Reply
      • Tom Moncrieff

        There’s a Russian version on YouTube. I don’t know when it was made but it’s obviously earlier and in that one’s ball scene Andrei also wears a white and silver uniform. It’s not the same but it is very similar. Actually it was shot very similarly too, so either both are reasonably accurate or the BBC copied the Russian one thinking we wouldn’t know it!

        Reply
  7. Becky Nankivell

    I don’t know anything about uniforms, but your picture here illustrates a complaint I saw elsewhere: their faces may be very dirty, but their uniforms are immaculate.

    Reply
    • Janette

      I always wondered how they got all the mud and blood stains off their uniforms. Given the cost I don’t imagine they had too many spares or they were readily replaced. (I also believe that TV/Film productions have the same problems, An actor’s face can we wiped clean but the costume, which is often hired, costs to launder.)

      Reply
      • Sarah E.

        Indeed. A couple of years ago I saw an (actually pretty good) period zombie flick, in which it was, however, obvious that they couldn’t afford to break-down or bloodstain 1860s costumes for an entire zombie horde (even assuming they could afford period costumes for a hundred extras) so the zombies were all wearing tattered, dirty, but pretty obviously modern clothing with the occasional top hat or shawl thrown on for flavour.

        Reply
  8. Shawna Spiteri

    I got all excited by the promise of “balls” in this recap, until I realized it was not the “balls” I was imagining. Guess I need to see the rate X Euro version for that, hehe.

    But seriously, why are most of the women’s costumes so god awful while the men’s outfits look generally appropriate and historically correct? I will never forgive whoever thought a lady would wear a bowler hat with veil as part of her hunting ensemble in this period. And bangs do not grow out that fast. They just don’t.

    Reply
  9. brocadegoddess

    Hmm…I wonder if the costume designer read their notes wrong and thought it said 1910s instead of 1810s in terms of the period. And is also a member of the (misguided) camp that Paul Poiret designs were not worn with corsets/foundation garments.

    Reply
  10. Tom Moncrieff

    We have now, as of last night, seen all of War and Peace here in the UK. I did love it but like this excellent blog I would also be quite critical of it. It ran at 6 hours 20 mins. I remember vividly the BBC 1972 version – and re-watched it 2 years ago – that ran at 20 hours. This version is so cut down. After all, it is one of the longest novels ever written, should it not have made an epic, much longer series? The 1972 version has hopeless production values by today’s standards – it was mostly shot on a multi-cam stage with open mics so every sip of wine was a great slurp and the walls wobbled with every slammed door. Yet it was magnificent, introducing Anthony Hopkins to millions as a great character actor, because it celebrated the text and every nuance in detail.

    Obviously, this one cut to suit the modern tastes of the Twitterati, our knowledge (or, rather, lack of it) of Russian and Napoeonic history and literature, and 2016 boredom thresholds. It’s risk averse too, it cost £10m and the givernment is currently reviewing BBC expenditure, which is public money. The BBC didn’t risk spending £20m on a flop.

    But it’s also worth noting this was made for BBC1, the BBC’s most mainstream channel. Most intellectual literary period drama is made for the allegedly more intellectual and much less popular BBC2 or BBC4. So I think costume and casting were unsubtly deployed here to semaphore the plot lines and character traits rather than leave that to more profound writing. So Helene is dressed as a slut and usually shot reclining, Natasha as a virginal nymph clutching posies of wild flowers, Sonia as a geek darning a gusset, that sort of thing. And it was kept relatively glamorous, modern and attractive to hold on to its ratings. I notice we saw very few serfs and other than Pierre we got no indication of the source of anyone’s vast wealth. It’s like a Southern plantation family riding around in a carriage going, look, no slaves. Slave owners dripping with blood diamonds don’t make attractive leads. And it’s all relative. When Countess Rostova says they are poverty stricken she really means they are down to their last ten stately homes, 75 Venetian crystal chandeliers and thousand serfs.

    But I did love it. This is my favourite period for costume. You can keep today’s hoodies, wind and waterproof fabrics, fanny packs and ripped jeans exposing ass cracks and acres of tattooed flesh. It’s a Hussar’s pelisse or a silk frock coat and breeches for me any day!

    Reply
  11. Janette

    Thank you for sharing that link. A Telegraph Article that I agree with. That is frightening. Nice to see this site credited, as it should be.
    There is a line in that article “but that doesn’t matter if the transgressions were intelligently thought through”. While some degree of “fast and loose” is generally required for various reasons, cost, availability of fabrics, durability of appropriate fabrics, representation of character, etc etc, this production goes way beyond that. I find it interesting that the men’s costumes are within reason. It is the women’s costumes that scream cat walk. Is this an attempt to pull male, costume drama adverse viewers, in response to internet moaning about “another pointless costumes drama?”
    What I really don’t understand about the costumes in this is that they are not even attractive. There does not seem to be any good reason for the inaccuracy.

    Reply
  12. Justme

    Oh wait, I think I know what’s going on with Bitchwife’s dress fabric when she shows up with all of her bags. If you stare at it and un-focus your eyes, you can see a dolphin or some shit!

    Reply

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