War, peace, not much else: Andrew Davies is condensing Tolstoy's epic into a six-hour series
But can John Walsh make it any shorter?
Prolific writer and commentator John Walsh contributes columns to the paper as well as writing features, interviews and restaurant reviews. He has been editor of The Independent Magazine, literary editor of the Sunday Times and features editor of the London Evening Standard.
Tuesday 19 February 2013
Breaking news: Tolstoy’s War and Peace is to be adapted for BBC1 TV by Andrew Davies, the go-to guy when it comes to turning baggy classic novels (Middlemarch, Bleak House) into TV gold. He will seek to reduce the 1,225 pages of the original to six episodes, possibly starring Eddie Redmayne.
Six episodes? War and Peace reduced to six hours? Are they mad? When the BBC last did W’n’P, 40 years ago, they spread it across 20 episodes, starring Anthony Hopkins in granny glasses as Pierre. Davies is breezily unbothered by the scale of the enterprise. He says he will cut back on the lengthy philosophical excursions of the latter sections and concentrate on the family drama. “It’s nothing to be frightened of,” he told the press. “At the heart of the book it is a story of four families [five actually] with certain characters we get to care about and love very much.” Okay then. We recognise a challenge when we see it. If Davies thinks he can reduce the plot, the action, the descriptions and the thematic motifs down to six hours, let’s just see how much more streamlined we could make it. Welcome to @war&peace.
PrinceAndreiB @pierrebezukhov. Are you going to @AnnaPavlovna’s soirée? All St Petersburg will be whooping it up. Or will you stay home worrying about yr dying pa’s legacy? #topbastard
PierreBezukhov @PrinceAndreiB. Thanks, was fab party. But why R U so rude 2 lovely wife Lise? She sees thro my social dyslexia 2 inner light. And YU wannabe aide-de-camp to Prince Kutuzov? #warcomingduh
SonyaRostov @natasharostova. OMG, yr bro @NikIlyich writes pledging his love. Totes amazeballs. But he’s like 20, which is as old as @PetertheGreat AND he’s my cousin, eewwww. #pleaseadvise
NatashaRostov @sonyarostova. Do not listen to deranged @NikIlyich you goose. What does he or U kno of Love? Whereas my love for @handsomeBorisD is pure as the driven S… #goodbyecherry
NikIlyich @sonyarostova. It’s all kicking off @Schongrabern my love. Nasty battle. War is hell. Met posh @PrinceAndrei from St Peterbug’s and insulted him! #meandmybigmouth
CountessRostova @CountIlya. What in name of @Beelzebub is wrong with our bloody kids? @Natasha turns down @Denisov, @NikIlyich won’t marry rich bint to save us from ruin #whoamimrsbloodybennett
PierreBezhukov @ElenaKuragina. Now I’ve inherited ££££ from dead @CountKyrill, am fabulously wealthy and dead eligible. I love u and wd marry u tmrw if u’d stop shagging yr brother #dealbreaker
PierreBezhukov @VirginiaIronsideski. What can I do? Have challenged wife’s lover to duel, nearly killed him, dumped wife and joined Freemasons. How should one live moral life in immoral world? *serious face*
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