Having watched the original cinema release, I was disappointed in the technical quality of this DVD transfer from the original 1966 film stock; color and sharpness are poor and cropping is painfully evident when viewing the opening titles or the occasional triptychs Bondarchuk used; now only the center frame is fully visible and just the inner halves of the left and right frames appear. The real budget of this movie may never be known since almost all of the many thousands of extras who appear in the three armies of the battle scenes at Austerlitz, Borodino etc. were Red Army regulars, paid by the Soviet Government to play the French, Austrian and Russian armies respectively. Since army regulars would already be well drilled in marching, keeping formations and handling their weapons, this must have shrunk the film's budget considerably. Nevertheless the wardrobe costs for those many thousands of elaborate uniforms must have been colossal. Today's computer technology could have cut the cost of this six-hour epic to a relatively modest budget - a small batallion of real actors could today be digitally multiplexed into a regiment, then a brigade, then a division and finally into an entire army. It is unusual that Sergei Bondarchuk himself should have taken on the additional task of acting in the role of Pierre Bezukhov. His demanding performances as both actor and director are superb.
I saw this masterpiece by Sergei Bondarchuck on the big screen at SIFF several years ago and was blown away by the majesty of it all.
This version by Kultor is an insult to anyone who loves movies. It's not widescreen (it's pan and scanned or cropped) and the image quality is unforgivable. For a comparison between Kultor and RusCiCo (the version that's meant to be viewed) go to:
I suggest going to Scarecrow Video in Seattle and renting the Russian release.
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