‘War and Peace’: BBC’s sexy ‘soap opera’ shocks Russians

‘War and Peace’: BBC’s sexy ‘soap opera’ shocks Russians
A file photo taken on Oct 5, 2015, shows from left, Executive Producers Faith Penhale and Harvey Weinstein, and British actress Lily James as they pose for the photocall of the TV series "War and Peace" during the MIPCOM audiovisual trade fair in Cannes, southeastern France. Photo: AFP
Published: 1:53 PM, January 26, 2016
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MOSCOW — With displays of cleavage, incest and torrid sex, the BBC’s new adaptation of “War and Peace” has startled Russians even if many liked its “clever” take on Leo Tolstoy’s epic novel.

The racy love scenes, notably, came as a shock in a country where television tends more towards the prudish.

A “classic with cleavage”, was how the Saint Petersburg-based news website Fontanka.ru dubbed Andrew Davies’ treatment of the 1869 masterpiece, starring Lily James and Paul Dano.

The dress of one actress was cut so low it looked like her breasts “would fall on the dinner plate”, it said.

In Britain, the show drew wild applause — and six million spectators — when the first of six episodes premiered on television there this month.

Though it is not yet known when it will air in Russia, many Russians got a sneak preview watching online or while visiting Britain.

“War and Peace”, which spans 15 years and details the impact of the Napoleonic invasion of Tsarist Russia through the eyes of five aristocratic families, is taken extremely seriously in its homeland where its staggering 1,000-plus pages are compulsory reading in schools.

Mr Davies, by his own admission, chucked out the sprawling subplots and pumped up the spicy bits, like the hint of incest between the sister and brother Anatole and Helene Kuragin.

“The promised incest scene came in the first episode,” wrote Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid, offering a “hint of scandal”.

But “Anatole strokes his sister under a blanket,” it said. The “prim English evidently decided not to arouse the feelings of literature lovers” by “not showing the viewers everything”.

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