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 Posted:   Dec 22, 2021 - 11:01 AM   
 By:   Montana Dave   (Member)

One of my very favorite pieces of film music is in this film, (Thanks John Archibald for reminding me!) This magnificent waltz is breathtaking in its composition as well as its execution in the film. In this 1967 Russian film, Director Sergei Bondarchuk and composer Vyacheslav Ovchnnikov demonstrate how to command the screen.


 
 
 Posted:   Dec 22, 2021 - 1:27 PM   
 By:   TacktheCobbler   (Member)

Can’t find a good widescreen clip of the full waltz scene, but here’s a good re-recording (live mind you) of the piece:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exaJxDIyYJQ

 
 Posted:   Dec 22, 2021 - 1:57 PM   
 By:   Sehnsuchtshafen   (Member)

Russian version with English subs in widescreen:

Part I




Part II




Part III




Part IV

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 23, 2021 - 12:07 PM   
 By:   Montana Dave   (Member)

.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 24, 2021 - 9:59 AM   
 By:   Montana Dave   (Member)

Thanks to the thead about posting youtube videos in today's blog, I fixed this. NOW, here's that video above!

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 25, 2021 - 7:22 PM   
 By:   John B. Archibald   (Member)

Love the Russian WAR AND PEACE!
I only wish they’d release it complete, in 70 mm and stereo sound.
Not mention the complete music tracks!

 
 Posted:   Jul 31, 2022 - 1:23 PM   
 By:   Sehnsuchtshafen   (Member)

Love the Russian WAR AND PEACE!
I only wish they’d release it complete, in 70 mm and stereo sound.
Not mention the complete music tracks!



I've found the best and longest version of this four part film series as released by Criterion. It's about 7 hrs and 3 min. incl. all the main and end titles.

Unfortunately, the 70 mm negative as well as the 35 mm negative are lost. They both were already beyond use when the Russians tried to restore the epic in the early 1990. -- How come such a masterpiece of cinema can be lost? What kind of garbage film materials did they use back then?

Here is the answer: The film "War and Peace" was supposed to demonstrate to the world that the technology of cinematography in the USSR was not inferior to global standards, and the use of domestic materials and tools was a matter of principle.

At the beginning of the shooting period it was impossible to order the necessary amount of Kodak film, as there was no time to allocate foreign currency for its purchase, and the 70 mm wide negative film was not produced by Kodak. American wide format film systems called for a 65 mm wide negative. The filmmakers had the option of using ORWO film from East Germany (GDR), but eventually they opted for a domestic film manufacturer.

They finally used an experimental 70-mm colour film made at Shostka Combine and an experimental 1CSSS camera with a mirror-shaped obturator. A number of scenes were shot with the 1KSSR handheld camera. Such camera weighed about 10 kg and its shooting "with hands" required great physical strength of the operator.

The film was actually shot simultaneously in two formats as it had been done with the first widescreen films:

70mm widescreen (with six-channel 5+1 sound),
35 mm widescreen.

However, during filming, the second 35mm camera was very quickly abandoned in order not to complicate the already tight shooting conditions and schedule.

The film crew also suffered because of the low quality of the Sovjet made film and frequent defects during development process. Some scenes had to be repeated 30-40 times. Technically difficult battle scenes with a large number of extras were subjected to multiple reshoots when no more than two quality takes were made per day. The film's low sensitivity meant that the set had to be floodlit even by day in natural light. This prolonged the work on the film. In the end, the final version still had some shots with technical defects as there was no way to re-shoot them.

In 1986, an attempt was made to partially restore the film and to produce a television version with the participation of the director himself. The 1:2.2 wide format version was converted into 4:3 TV by pan-screening with partial loss of picture left and right. The film was also re-mounted into a three-part version.

In 1999, Mosfilm Studios started a programme to restore some of their masterpieces. War and Peace was fully 'restored' in the Mosfilm laboratories with the participation of Krupny Plan in 2000. However, the original (negative) 70mm and 35mm film had already been lost completely and could not be used anymore due to its poor quality. The film (image) was restored from the "lavender" (contratip). The original film, a magnetic tape with six-channel sound, made it possible to transfer the soundtrack of the picture to the modern Dolby Digital 5.1 format. The picture was transferred to digital media, with the soundtrack recreated.

On July 26, 2000, War and Peace had it's second premiere in the restored format at the Udarnik Cinema in Moscow.

This restored version is apparently no match to the original 70 mm film release. The picture quality is not as sharp and the colours are not as strong as in the 1965/66 prints according to those who where already there when the film had its first release.

Yet, Bondarchuk's "War and Peace" remains magnificent even if you are aware of all the problems they had during the filming and in view of the fact that the restored version is not as good as the original print in 70 mm. Everybody with an interest in this kind of epic filmmaking should have watched it at least once.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 31, 2022 - 3:18 PM   
 By:   Katsoulas   (Member)

So a Kickstarter for this score that will be awesome

 
 Posted:   Aug 1, 2022 - 4:04 AM   
 By:   Sehnsuchtshafen   (Member)

So a Kickstarter for this score that will be awesome


I doubt that will happen. This is a Russian thing. By the way, the tapes of the original recordings might still exist at Mosfilm.

Some more trivia about the music:

The film's music was competed for by world-renowned composers such as Dmitri Shostakovich, Georgy Sviridov and Aram Khachaturian.

Given the complexity of the task, Dmitry Kabalevsky even suggested reworking the music from Prokofiev's opera of the same name into a film format.

As an unknown conservatory student in 1962, Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov (1936-2019) was the one finally chosen by director Sergej Bondarchuk.

Apart from the music specially written by Ovchinnikov, historical music was also used for the film. In the episode of Napoleon's army's entry into Moscow and Napoleon's walk through the city, French military marches are played: "March of Napoleon Bonaparte's Imperial Guard" and "Marche de La Garde Consulaire à Marengo".

The Moscow Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, Chorus and the All-Union Radio and Television Orchestra performed the music. Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov conducted the recording.

The UK LP has been reissued on CD in 2012:

https://www.discogs.com/de/release/11692758-Vyacheslav-Ovchinnikov-War-And-Peace-Original-Soundtrack-Recording

There's a Japanese 2-LP set with different tracks:

https://www.discogs.com/de/release/11430463-Vyacheslav-Ovchinnikov-%E6%88%A6%E4%BA%89%E3%81%A8%E5%B9%B3%E5%92%8C-%E7%B7%8F%E9%9B%86%E7%B7%A8-%D0%92%D0%BE%D0%B9%D0%BD%D0%B0-%D0%98-%D0%9C%D0%B8%D1%80-Edited-Version

 
 Posted:   Aug 1, 2022 - 5:04 AM   
 By:   Ny   (Member)

I watched the Criterion 4-parter last year. The film certainly has its moments, and the sheer number of extras in the battle scenes make it worth a look, but on the whole I found it pretty turgid, indulgent, and without focus.
The battle of Borodino alone gets half an hour of screen time, and clearly so much attention devoted to it, yet it's just shots thrown together. You'd have to go and read about it to find out what actually happened. I'm all for an individual's chaotic perspective of war, but for that you need far fewer extras, and far less screen time. It's a classic example of ambition undermining ability.

I'm fascinted by Russia and Russian history, but the state has a habit of shooting itself in the foot, which seems to have happened here with the materials.
Famously someone in the administration destroyed all the footage for Andrei Tarkovsky's film Stalker, forcing him to reshoot the whole thing, and resulting in him making his two subsequent films abroad, in Italy and Sweden. In my opinion Tarkovsky is a contender for the greatest film-maker, and would have been a better choice than Bondarchuk for their flagship project, but he was considered -what else- a subversive.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 1, 2022 - 6:16 AM   
 By:   Katsoulas   (Member)



There's a Japanese 2-LP set with different tracks:

https://www.discogs.com/de/release/11430463-Vyacheslav-Ovchinnikov-%E6%88%A6%E4%BA%89%E3%81%A8%E5%B9%B3%E5%92%8C-%E7%B7%8F%E9%9B%86%E7%B7%A8-%D0%92%D0%BE%D0%B9%D0%BD%D0%B0-%D0%98-%D0%9C%D0%B8%D1%80-Edited-Version

Great!!!! But Japanese 2lp nobody sells it...Its gone

 
 Posted:   Aug 1, 2022 - 6:24 AM   
 By:   Sehnsuchtshafen   (Member)

Great!!!! But Japanese 2lp nobody sells it...Its gone


There are no recorded sales of this 2-LP- set on Discogs either. Must be very hard to get by now.

Hopefully, those LP master tapes are still around somewhere in Japan.
Lets hope even further, they are still in near mint condition.
Wouldn't that be somehting?

 
 Posted:   Aug 1, 2022 - 6:42 AM   
 By:   Sehnsuchtshafen   (Member)

I watched the Criterion 4-parter last year. The film certainly has its moments, and the sheer number of extras in the battle scenes make it worth a look, but on the whole I found it pretty turgid, indulgent, and without focus.
The battle of Borodino alone gets half an hour of screen time, and clearly so much attention devoted to it, yet it's just shots thrown together. You'd have to go and read about it to find out what actually happened. I'm all for an individual's chaotic perspective of war, but for that you need far fewer extras, and far less screen time. It's a classic example of ambition undermining ability.

I'm fascinted by Russia and Russian history, but the state has a habit of shooting itself in the foot, which seems to have happened here with the materials.
Famously someone in the administration destroyed all the footage for Andrei Tarkovsky's film Stalker, forcing him to reshoot the whole thing, and resulting in him making his two subsequent films abroad, in Italy and Sweden. In my opinion Tarkovsky is a contender for the greatest film-maker, and would have been a better choice than Bondarchuk for their flagship project, but he was considered -what else- a subversive.



I don't want to contradict you too much here. State-funded projects are always problematic and dangerous, be it film or anything else.

Nevertheless, Bondarchuk has managed to place some subtle to very explicit elements in his four-part film that I consider subversive. The sentence alone, quoting the meaning, "one must not say everywhere what one thinks", is just one example. Also noteworthy is the religious devotion, which in my opinion is shown very frequently and centrally without conceit or disparagement. It is also evident there - as in other places - that historical epics are well suited for conveying timelessly relevant values that would be more difficult to convey without the seal of authority of a literary classic or the Bible.

Of course, Tarkovski is one of the greates filmmaker who ever lived. But that's another topic.

Bondarchuk might have learned his lessons after War and Peace when he directed Waterloo which is sort of a sequel to his previous opus. He concentrated on directing and stayed behind the camera.

 
 Posted:   Aug 1, 2022 - 9:50 AM   
 By:   Ny   (Member)


Nevertheless, Bondarchuk has managed to place some subtle to very explicit elements in his four-part film that I consider subversive. The sentence alone, quoting the meaning, "one must not say everywhere what one thinks", is just one example. Also noteworthy is the religious devotion, which in my opinion is shown very frequently and centrally without conceit or disparagement. It is also evident there - as in other places - that historical epics are well suited for conveying timelessly relevant values that would be more difficult to convey without the seal of authority of a literary classic or the Bible.



Sure. The difference between Tarkovsky, Bondarchuk, and Tolstoy, in this regard, is one of degree, and the ideology always has to give way somewhere.

The choice of a chronicle of Tsar-era aristocrats is interesting, although the precedent was set by Stalin himself, when against the ropes in World War 2, he about-faced and called on the ancient heroes of Russia to inspire the people to resist.
One of the deciding factors must have been the scale that the novel spoke of, and the opportunity for Russia to flex its inexhaustible manpower on screen. Still loyal, still abundant, even after the decimations of the war.
One thing that does come across is Bondarchuk's devotion to the work, and it's baffling to me to when you have such expressive actors, and all the space and atmosphere you could need, you still employ a voiceover narration to convey word-for-word what they're thinking.
His touch is never less than intense, and that's one thing I miss in Waterloo. The roving helicopter shots of army formations, which I'm sure De Laurentis was adamant about, result in a feeling of sloppy opportunism by comparison.


I love Ovchinnikov's work for Tarkovsky's first two films - Ivan's Childhood and Andrei Rublev. The first is quite a typical dramatic score, though full of subtlety, the second is much more experimental and ghostly. I've got the Japanese release of both, but the sound on them is very untidy.

 
 Posted:   Aug 3, 2022 - 3:44 AM   
 By:   Sehnsuchtshafen   (Member)

One thing that does come across is Bondarchuk's devotion to the work, and it's baffling to me to when you have such expressive actors, and all the space and atmosphere you could need, you still employ a voiceover narration to convey word-for-word what they're thinking.
His touch is never less than intense, and that's one thing I miss in Waterloo. The roving helicopter shots of army formations, which I'm sure De Laurentis was adamant about, result in a feeling of sloppy opportunism by comparison.



The inner monologues of the protagonists or the narrative voice cannot be replaced with purely mimic and visual means of expression in film. Packing it into dialogue, for example, turned it into a clumsy fabrication. - How many inner monologues do we conduct ourselves every day? - So I quite comprehend why Bondartschuk chose to rely on them.

I saw "Waterloo" a very long time ago. I would have to do it again to comment on the qualities of the film. Somewhere I have a good copy of it. One should know that this film is a work packed with historical misrepresentations and outright history lies. From that point of view, it is an overlong fairy tale. (I don't mean to suggest that Bondachuk's War and Peace is much better in that regard). "Waterloo" comes across like a history lesson. "War and Peace" is more a study of a long-gone society in a time of severe turmoil both internally within the protagonists and externally on a geo-political level.

What do you mean by saying, "The roving helicopter shots of army formations [...] result in a feeling of sloppy opportunism by comparison."?

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 3, 2022 - 7:11 AM   
 By:   Katsoulas   (Member)

Great!!!! But Japanese 2lp nobody sells it...Its gone


There are no recorded sales of this 2-LP- set on Discogs either. Must be very hard to get by now.

Hopefully, those LP master tapes are still around somewhere in Japan.
Lets hope even further, they are still in near mint condition.
Wouldn't that be somehting?


Yes but I don't think so...only with re recording we have the chance to listen the complete score.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 3, 2022 - 9:15 AM   
 By:   John McMasters   (Member)

I saw this way back in the day spread over two evenings in NYC. I thought the film was simply overwhelming -- but not in a way that superseded the human emotions of the story. I also love the waltz sequence. The mix of grandeur, wisps of interior thoughts, and more than a hint of sadness and unease as an overlay to the spectacle in that dance are, for me, intoxicating. As if one were watching a hammer approaching a Faberge egg in slow motion.

The film is a heady mix of avante garde techniques, formalist, almost militaristic structures, all swirling in a sea of first person, in-your-face, experiences. I can't think of another film that just throws you into the midst of battles with no means of escape and then whips you away to a god-like perspective. The film is incredibly well directed and organized - but, it seems to me, with a heart on the sleeve, experiential and, perhaps, experimental soul.

Many moments reminded me of times in the films of Welles, Hitchcock, and Ford when I simply forgot I was watching a film and just experienced emotions in a very direct way. For me it is almost a perfect amalgam of the personal and the universal.

But again, just IMHO.

 
 Posted:   Aug 3, 2022 - 12:31 PM   
 By:   Ny   (Member)


What do you mean by saying, "The roving helicopter shots of army formations [...] result in a feeling of sloppy opportunism by comparison."?



For all the problems I see in War and Peace it does have a unified aesthetic and style. Even the battle scenes which lack an overall structure, from shot to shot a noticeable standard is maintained.
With Waterloo, when those birds-eye helicopter shots appear, the standard is where? They have no real aesthetic to them, they're rough, lopsided, inconsistent with the rest of the footage, and kind of removed from the narrative.
I don't know the story of the shoot but when I watch it it feels like they were something the producer wanted rather than director.
Take Bondarchuk's experience with these big military formations, take a world famous battle, and take all the money you can throw at it, and boom - you've got an opportunity for a spectacle like no other.
It feels to me like those shots are in there for their own sake, for the sake of pure spectacle. And it feels like Bondarchuk does not have the same interest in, or handle on, the project.


With regards to the voiceover narration, I'm struggling to think of an example where a film benefits from interpreting a novel so faithfully. I'm sure there are a few, but generally I feel like a source novel should be refit to suit film language, rather than have film language draped over it. That more often leads to a lack of focus, and puts a limit on its potential. A huge chunk of War and Peace is literally the actors reading the novel over shots of their own faces.
It doesn't help when the novel in question is an exemplary and one-of-a-kind triumph of that format, amounting to a lot more than just a story, though there are of course many examples of films that rise to this particular challenge. Personally I will never cease to be impressed at how well David Cronenberg adapted William Burrough's Naked Lunch, one of those 'unfilmable' books you hear so much about.

 
 Posted:   Aug 3, 2022 - 12:56 PM   
 By:   Sehnsuchtshafen   (Member)


What do you mean by saying, "The roving helicopter shots of army formations [...] result in a feeling of sloppy opportunism by comparison."?



For all the problems I see in War and Peace it does have a unified aesthetic and style. Even the battle scenes which lack an overall structure, from shot to shot a noticeable standard is maintained.
With Waterloo, when those birds-eye helicopter shots appear, the standard is where? They have no real aesthetic to them, they're rough, lopsided, inconsistent with the rest of the footage, and kind of removed from the narrative.
I don't know the story of the shoot but when I watch it it feels like they were something the producer wanted rather than director.
Take Bondarchuk's experience with these big military formations, take a world famous battle, and take all the money you can throw at it, and boom - you've got an opportunity for a spectacle like no other.
It feels to me like those shots are in there for their own sake, for the sake of pure spectacle. And it feels like Bondarchuk does not have the same interest in, or handle on, the project.



I get what you mean. As far as I know, the film was originally to be longer. It had a couple of parts in it which were even credited but the actors do not appear. Their scenes were cut because De Laurentiis wanted the film to be much shorter. I have no idea if a longer "Waterloo" would have been a better film. Whatever, it might still not explain the incoherrent montage you are pointing the finger on. I can't comment on this as it's been too long that I've watched the whole thing.

By the way, I've once attended a special screening of the Stanley Kubrick documentary that Jan Harlan produced and directed. Harlan was present there, and during the question and answer segment he also discussed Kubrick's aborted Napoleon project. What's interesting in this context is Harlan's statement, that he thought "Waterloo" was a good film. That amazed me because I already knew at the time that this film didn't have a particularly good reputation. But Harlan was clearly favourable about it.

 
 Posted:   Aug 4, 2022 - 2:55 AM   
 By:   Ny   (Member)

I assume Harlan was also in favour of Kubrick's Napoleon?
I'd say Kubrick saw sense on that one, and I'd say Ridley Scott, with his upcoming version, even at this advanced stage of available tech, may be overwhelmed. It is the most unwieldy of subject matters.
A single day in Napoleon's career, or a single episode, I think would be enough for a film to take on.
Marshal Ney's force being cut off from, and then reunited with, the retreat from Moscow for example? Napoleon would just be a bit player seen from a distance, but all of the soldiers' desperation, griping, faith, strength, despair... would revolve around that one figure and his impact on the world.
Anyway, historical epics tend to be problematic from the outset by being bound to chronological facts spread unevenly over so many years, and many of them could do with a shake and a stir, and a true film structure, like Tarantino's Pulp Fiction for example, to bind them together.

 
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