Fourth and final part of the massive Russo costumer is an impressive windup to this super spec. It shows that it has a cumulative force which overcomes some of its academic and posey qualities.
This entry has a written prolog to set up the fortunes of its main characters during a time of peace and then the Napoleonic Wars. It blocks out the main characters – Pierre’s bad marriage, growing love for a young noble girl, his travails during the war, and the destinies of the girl and a prince she loved – as a microcosm of the destinies of a whole people in war and peace.
Part IV deals with Pierre’s capture and near-execution when the Napoleonic troops invade and burn Moscow, the death of the prince, and Pierre’s final uniting with the girl after the disastrous retreat of Napoleon’s troops in the terrible Russo winter. It reaches grandiose proportions and an operatic, almost ecstatic, quality that is in keeping with the book via Tolstoy’s cosmic vision.
The burning of Moscow and the frenzy of pillage and arbitrary executions get a dizzying mounting. Pierre’s near-execution awakens an almost mystic feel of his realization that he is a part of everything.
The camera zooming through a burning building, Pierre’s rage at soldier inhumanity, the prince’s death, a mother’s mourning, the young girl’s anguish – all work as comments on man’s prevailing end and overcome the sentimentality and overdone aspects in some of the earlier segs.
[The entire film was first shown in the US in 1968, and the UK in 1969, in a 357-min. dubbed version, in two parts, each with an intermission.]
1968: Best Foreign Language Film