January 15, 2016

War, Peace and Cable

War, Peace and Cable

NEWS FLASH! It turns out Lady Rose Aldridge (of Downton Abbey, really, did I really need to tell you that?) is not in America, but Russia – yes, Lady Rose is actually Natasha Rostova (which may or may not be the same thing as Cinderella). 

That's just one tidbit related to the fact that, on January 18, a new BBC six-part miniseries of Lev Tolstoy's War and Peace comes to American television. 

Here's some stuff to help you get ready.

First, watch the trailer.

Second, where can you watch this? Well, if you are in the UK, on the BBC of course (where it started last week), or on BBC.com (which you may also be able to do if you have a VPN). You can also buy the download, which may or may not play outside the UK.

If you are in the US, it will be showing on A&E, Lifetime and the History Channel, as four, two-hour episodes. (It appears that streaming may be available at this link.)

Third, how should you prepare? Well, first remember that this is just a movie, not the book. Just sit back and enjoy it as an interpretive work for a different medium.

If you want to go getting all high-horse anyway, you can read or re-read the book and prep yourself to say pompous things like, "well, Andrei really never said that..." or "that's not how I imagined the ball, based on Tolstoy's description..." 

Both the Anthony Briggs (Penguin) and Pevear and Volokhonsky translations are highly acclaimed. Constance Garnett's is also very nice, and it was done closer to the original, and Garnett knew Tolstoy.

If a 1200-page novel is a bit much to take on right now, you can also go the SparkNotes or Cliffs Notes route. Still too much? There may be no hope for you. Ok, ok, here is a 186-word version from the Independent. And The Standard put out this nice "Everything You Ever Wanted To Know... summary.

Fourth, what should you eat while watching this? Russian food, of course. Turn to our cookbook, A Taste of Russia to find something that sets your tastebuds a-watering and get cooking!


  • In its run-up to the series, the BBC put together this listicle of 10 things you must know.
  • The sounds of War and Peace in 2 minutes. Thanks for that, Jay-Z.
  • 12 reasons to love War and Peace.
  • Get the soundtrack from the Academy Award-winning Russian version of the novel.
  • A music playlist of songs with a connection to the novel, assembled by the BBC.

Enjoy! And be sure to share your comments about the series on our Facebook page, or via the comments box below.

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