WAR AND PEACE
VOYNA I MIR
1967, Janus Films, 421 min, Soviet Union, Dir: Sergey Bondarchuk

At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet film industry set out to prove it could outdo Hollywood with a production that would dazzle the world: a titanic, awe-inspiring adaptation of Tolstoy’s classic tome in which the fates of three souls - the blundering, good-hearted Pierre; the heroically tragic Prince Andrei; and the radiant, tempestuous Natasha - collide amid the tumult of the Napoleonic Wars. Employing a cast of thousands and an array of innovative camera techniques, Bondarchuk conjures a sweeping vision of grand balls that glitter with rococo beauty and breathtaking battles that overwhelm with their expressionistic power. As a statement of Soviet cinema’s might, WAR AND PEACE succeeded wildly, garnering the Academy Award for Best Foreign-Language Film and setting a new standard for epic moviemaking. "You are never, ever, going to see anything to equal it ... as spectacular as a movie can possibly be." - Roger Ebert.


SENSO
1954, Rialto Pictures, 123 min, Italy, Dir: Luchino Visconti

Against the backdrop of the Italian-Austrian war of unification, troubled Countess Livia Serpieri (Alida Valli) betrays her country for the love of an Austrian rogue, Franz Mahler (Farley Granger). As her resources dwindle, Livia comes to realize that their love might not be as pure as she thought. "A passionate and melodramatic romance, with doomed lovers, posturing soldiers, secret meetings at midnight, bold adultery and dramatic deaths. ... SENSO is lush, broadly emotional and beautifully photographed." - Roger Ebert.


LUDWIG
1973, AGFA, 238 min, Italy/France/West Germany, Dir: Luchino Visconti

Presented in its complete form in accordance with the director’s wishes, this look at the life and death of King Ludwig II of Bavaria is as opulent as any of Visconti’s sagas - a sweeping four-hour epic of 19th-century decadence. Dominated by Helmut Berger (THE DAMNED, DORIAN GRAY) in the title role, LUDWIG boasts an impressive cast: Romy Schneider (reprising her Elisabeth of Austria characterization from the SISSI trilogy), Silvana Mangano (BITTER RICE), Gert Fröbe (GOLDFINGER), John Moulder-Brown (DEEP END) and Trevor Howard (BRIEF ENCOUNTER).


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