In 1956 in America came out the film adaptation of "War and Peace" with a Hollywood star Audrey Hepburn in the role of Natasha Rostova. The film also went to the Soviet box office, but a peculiar interpretation of the images of the classic novel convinced the USSR leadership of the need to allocate a budget for a decent film version of the work of Leo Tolstoy.
According to financial documents, the creation of kinopolotn cost in an unprecedented amount - 8 million 291 thousand Soviet rubles. However, the site imdb.com estimated production at $ 100 million in 1967 prices.
Work on the picture began in 1961, and the shooting started only on September 7, 1962 from the scene of the execution of the city arsonists by the French. Later this scene was included in the last 4th episode. The whole shooting lasted about 6 years. The third episode "1812" was filmed for almost 3 years. The magazine “Soviet screen” then joked like this - “a proposal is being considered to introduce a real general to the film crew - so that he would end the“ war of the twelfth year ”with one lightning strike.”
50 museums of the USSR provided their exhibits for filming, so that the situation and the characters corresponded to their time to the maximum. More than 40 enterprises engaged in the manufacture of costumes, snuffboxes, accessories, awards, carts and weapons. To create the costumes, even the collection of tin soldiers Leningrad collector was used. And the Lomonosov Porcelain Factory recreated a large dining set according to 18th-century drawings for the film adaptation.
Work on the picture was hard. The second director, some actors and cameramen, left the production, unable to endure the imperious and demanding character of Bondarchuk. Gone, for example, a group of operators who began shooting - Yolanda Chen and Alexander Shelenkov. The main operator of the picture was Anatoly Petritsky. The director himself also had a hard time, which literally affected his health - in July 1964 he had a heart attack, and the shooting was stopped until September.
For filming scenes of Russian hunting, which were also among the first, a rare hound for those times was specially selected in the kennel. But, according to the stories, the dogs were not accustomed to hunting and did not want to run in the right direction. Then the film crew had to go to the trick, to attract greyhounds they had to use cats.
Vasily Lanovoy, who played Anatole, dreamed of the role of Andrei Bolkonsky and did not even want to try Kuragin. The director also on the role of Andrei was approved by Innocent Smoktunovski. But as we know, Bolkonsky was played by the main lyrical hero and the favorite of that time, Vyacheslav Tikhonov, who personally insisted on the candidacy of Culture Minister Yekaterina Furtseva. The actor eventually managed to convince Bondarchuk that he fits the role. Other actors could also play Pierre Bezukhov: Andrei Konchalovsky, the same Innokenty Smoktunovsky or the weightlifter Yury Vlasov. But in the end, 40-year-old Bondarchuk himself played this role, for which he had to gain 10 kilograms.
The picture is different exciting battle scenes. For filming the Shengrabensky and Austerlitz battles in Transcarpathia attracted 3,000 soldiers of the Carpathian Military District of the Soviet Army. Bondarchuk was shooting some scenes from a helicopter, but in order to capture the panorama of the battlefield, the operators attached the camera to the cable car at an altitude of 300 meters.
The main battle scene - the Battle of Borodino - was filmed in the valley of the Dnieper, because this area was similar to Borodino in relief. An unbelievable number of people were involved in the crowd scene - 15 thousand infantrymen and 950 cavalrymen. They managed to create the appearance of 120 thousand people who participated in the battle. In addition, 23 tons of explosives, 40 thousand liters of kerosene, 15 thousand hand smoke grenades, 2 thousand pieces and 1.5 thousand shells were used for the effects. The shooting of the central panorama of the main battle began on the 151st anniversary - August 25, 1963.
Anna Kniper-Timireva, the civil wife of the white admiral Kolchak, worked as a consultant on etiquette on the film.
In order to film the first ball of Natasha Rostova and to convey the atmosphere of the event, the operator Petritsky stood on roller skates and the assistants moved him among the waltzing pairs. Later, this technique was included in the documentary film on the course of filming and began to be used as material for the training of future operators.
In total, all four film series watched by 135 million viewers. Only in the Soviet box office "War and Peace" collected almost 58 million rubles.