For any book lovers out there, the BBC’s announcement for a major new adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s War And Peace will come as a pretty exciting prospect in itself, but more importantly it like like they’re throwing everything that they have into the production to do one of the greatest novels in the history of mankind the justice it deserves. With an all-star cast confirmed the might of BBC Cymru Wales Drama behind it, in partnership with The Weinstein Company and BBC Worldwide/Lookout Point, expectations are high for an epic period drama.
While an official air date hasn’t been released by the BBC as of yet, it has now confirmed that it will begin to air in January 2016 to ring in the New Year in impressive style. Filming began in the final weeks of January 2015 and that there will be six one hour episodes to cover the four volumes and two-part epilogue that makes up the book. While it had looked likely that it might go out during the Christmas period, the BBC confirmed that it was going to be January when it released the latest new image for the production to go with the two below below, which were taken during filming on location in Russia, Latvia and Lithuania.
It’s not particularly easy to encapsulate the story of a book that’s more than 1400 pages long, but for anyone that hasn’t read it the title is probably all you need to know really as it’s an account of war and peace time in Russia around the time of the French invasion of Russia in 1812. It’s centred around the lives of five aristocratic families with a sweeping storyline that reels smoothly between battlefield, royal parties, military carousing and family life.
Many historical figures feature in the plot with appearances from Tzar Alexander I, Napolean Bonapart and General Kutuzov, anchoring it firmly in the tumultuous era in which it’s set. This is added to by markers of actual events like the disastrous Battle of Austerlitz, the Great Comet of 1811-12, the violent destruction at the Battle of Borodino and the occupation of Moscow by Napolean’s army.
The all star cast is almost as epic as the story with Jim Broadbent (Paddington (2014)) playing Prince Bolkonsky, Gillian Anderson (X-Files, The Crimson Petal And The White) as Anna Pavlovna, Tuppence Middleton (The Imitation Game) will play Princess Hélène Kuragin, Brian Cox (Pixels) takes on the role of General Kutuzov and Ken Stott (Balin from The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies) as Bazdeev.
If that’s not enough to impress, Ade Edmondson will be playing Count Rostov, Lily James (Pride And Prejudice And Zombies film) stars as Natasha Rostova (pictured above) and Paul Dano (12 Years A Slave) as Pierre Bezukhov. James Norton (Belle) plays Prince Andrei Bolkonsky (pictured below), Rebecca Front (The Thick Of It) stars as Anna Mikhailovna, Kenneth Cranham (In The Flesh) as Uncle Mikhail, Aneurin Barnard (We’ll Take Manhattan) will play Boris, Callum Turner as Anatole, and Jessie Buckley (Endeavour) will play Princess Marya.
Also joining the cast are Stephen Rea (An Honourable Woman) as Prince Vassily Kuragin, Greta Scacchi (Brideshead Revisited) as Countess Rostov, Jack Lowden (The Passing Bells) will star as Nikolai, Tom Burke (The Musketeers) as Dolokhov and Aisling Loftus (Mr Selfridge) as Sonya.
The BBC’s adaptation of War And Peace is being directed by Tom Harper (Peaky Blinders) with the screenplay by Andrew Davies (A Poet In New York). The series is being executive produced by BBC Wales Head of Drama Faith Penhale (Doctor Who, Sherlock) and Bethan Jones (Sherlock) for BBC Cymru Wales, Andrew Davies (Pride And Prejudice), Harvey Weinstein (The Imitation Game, Paddington) and Robert Walak (Shame) for The Weinstein Company and Simon Vaughan (Ripper Street) for Lookout Point. The Producer is Julia Stannard (The Great Train Robbery).
We’re very excited about the prospect of War & Peace, not least of all because we love Tolstoy’s classic for it’s ability to span history, life and philosophy in such an expansive and charged story, but also because it looks like the BBC is putting everything it has behind the production. It’s got an exceptional cast, has taken the time and effort to shoot on location in Russia, Latvia and Lithuania and has a very capable team behind it, especially in director Tom Harper and writer Andrew Davies.