Well . . . we have the first instalment of War and Peace on BBC television this evening — in a ridiculously simplified version of the book. It should have been 12 instalments, like the original BBC version, not 6. And how could the BBC justify the spending of such an enormous budget — for which we pay ! — on this midget? No doubt it will make a profit when leased internationally, but it could have been twice as much if it had been of respectable length.
But the main damage will be done to the foreshortened historical events as well as the characters, particularly of Pierre and Natasha. They needed rime to develop — and to meet enough blows on the way — as in the book. Here, we are probably going to see a jerky version like a pop-up children’s book. Surely the success of Downton Abbey showed that a more leisurely unfolding of deeper personality can be sustained.