Article published on April 20, 2016.
Thank goodness I was not lying when I said I had read War and Peace! But it was a long time ago. It was a struggle at the time but one worth sticking with. Like you, Reg, I found the names, as I do with all foreign books, difficult and it affects my visualisation of the characters. However, it was exciting to see the BBC serialisation of the book. It must have been a nightmare for the scriptwriter to decide just how much of a book of around 1000 pages they could include and how much they could discard without detriment to the story.
In this case it seems they cut the families in the centre to three and focused on them. The settings and the costumes were magnificent if rather sterile and clean even during battle scenes. The acting I felt conjured up my images of the characters pretty well. It was most refreshing to see the BBC tackle a classic serial as they have of late dumbed down to such an extent that I rarely watch television. You get better pictures on the radio! What does annoy me is the increasing tendency to ‘soapify’ stories and there was an element of that in War and Peace, including changing Tolstoy’s tragic finale to a happy ending.
In saying all that I did enjoy the programme and although tempted to re read the book I know I will not.
April 20. 2016
SECOND OPINION: The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler