Monday, December 19, 2016


I am watching a four-part War and Peace on Acorn. It's pretty well done, at least compared to the recent dreadful Dr. Zhivago. But it mystifies me. Why? Because this multi-national production boasts gorgeous scenery, lavish sets, believable war scenes, and fantastic costumes. The music is excellent, the camera work superb, and the script good despite its liberties. And yet. After all this location work, expense, set building, and careful attention to every detail, they failed in the most important area: casting. Anyone who has seen the 1968, 8-hour Russian epic is sure to remember the beautiful and raven-haired Lyudmila Savelyeva making her film appearance as Natasha like a sudden sunburst.  Even the entertaining 1956 version, had dark-haired Audrey Hepburn as the irrepressible Natasha. So one wonders why, with all the work that went into this mini-series, one would star the bland blonde fashion model Clemence Poesy in this pivotal part. True, she's had a few successful screen roles including the lead in the TV mystery The Tunnel (which I found too violent and boring to continue watching) but she is not a seasoned actress and is all wrong for the demanding role of Natasha. The series does somewhat better with Andre (too short) and Pierre (too stoic). The last time I recall such an event was with the remaking of The Forsyte Saga, in which they starred Gina McKee as Irene. Irene was a femme fatale whose beauty and charisma created no end of scandals and breakups. The talented Gina, sadly, did not possess that kind of beauty.

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