9

SUNDAY

Among the few advantages of totalitarian countries is that they’re ideal places to make cinematic epics. Russian director Sergei Bondarchuk’s 1967 War and Peace may not be a great film, but it is a great spectacle, mustering 100,000 extras and a budget equivalent to more than a half-billion contemporary dollars. Although Bondarchuk’s seven-hour Tolstoy adaptation won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, it’s rarely been shown in the United States in an untrammeled form. This weekend’s two-part screenings mark the local premiere of the movie’s uncut, undubbed version. The most sweeping sequences are two Napoleonic War battles, but scenes of opulent dress balls, frantic wolf hunts, and wintry duels rival Austerlitz and Borodino. Most interestingly, the director balances the extravagant with the subjective, using dissolves, individual viewpoints, and—remarkably—handheld 70 mm camera to convey a lyric vision that suggests Elvira Madigan as much as Cecil B. DeMille. Part 1 of the film screens at 2 p.m., and Part 2 screens at 7:15 p.m. (see Showtimes for other dates) at the American Film Institute’s Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $8.50. (301) 495-6700. (MJ)

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