With his incomparable adaptation of War and Peace, filmmaker Sergei Bondarchuk sought to surpass King Vidor’s 1956 big-budget Hollywood spin on Leo Tolstoy’s novel in dramatic heft and dazzling spectacle, a task in which he certainly succeeded. Over the course of a production that lasted half a decade at the height of the Cold War, Mosfilm spared no expense for its eight-hour epic, allowing Bondarchuk to usher his enormous cast of characters through high-society balls and Napoleonic battles alike with consummate grandeur. In the above clip, taken from a supplement on our new edition of War and Peace, cinematographer Anatoly Petritsky describes some of the innovative camera work he brought to Bondarchuk’s film, helping it to achieve a level of visual virtuosity that was then nearly unprecedented. After explaining how he used a “flying,” cable-mounted camera to capture swooping aerial views of the stunningly staged Battle of Borodino, Petritsky reveals that one particularly lavish ballroom scene had him rushing across the floor in roller skates, before mounting a crane that enabled him to float above the action—all without taking his eye off the viewfinder.
A Subtler Side of the Hepburn-Grant Magic
Filmmaker and distributor Michael Schlesinger and critic Michael Sragow dive into the pleasures of Holiday, a romantic-comedy classic that has long stood in the shadow of The Philadelphia Story but has a poignancy all its own.
Wim Wenders Looks Back on the Digital Future He Predicted
From search engines to all-engrossing handheld devices, the technologies that the German director conjured for his 1991 opus Until the End of the World are now common features of contemporary life.
John Bailey Breaks Down a Tour de Force of Gothic Lighting
The veteran cinematographer takes a close look at the highly stylized and atmospheric lighting in one of the most pivotal scenes in pre-Code classic The Story of Temple Drake.
All About Mankiewicz
One of the most celebrated Hollywood writer-directors of his time, Joseph L. Mankiewicz offers a window into the way he sees his characters in this illuminating clip from an archival interview.