Wednesday, April 15, 2009

War and Peace and Henry Fonda

About 800 pages into War and Peace now and more and more believing that I loved it the first time around on its own merits and not purely the context for the reading. Yes, the characters are all still rich, still often largely clueless, and still worlds removed from me, but they're also, with every chapter, increasingly human.

I took some time to read Paul Williams Love to Burn and the first two Performing Artist books he wrote on Dylan (more on those three books later), as well as Michael Chabon's Maps and Legends collection, but I'm trying to keep my focus on Tolstoy for the next couple of weeks.

But that's not the point.

The point is that I read today that in the big ol' midcentury American film of War and Peace, someone chose Henry Fonda to play Pierre.

And that's idiotic. No matter his other qualities as a person, the novel insists, again and again, that Pierre is fat. Really fat. His bulk must be mentioned at least once in every one of his chapters. And yet, Henry Fonda.

That's not inspired counter-casting, like bringing him in to play Frank in Leone's amazing Once Upon a Time in the West. It's just a mistake, as bad as casting Robert Redford as Jay Gatsby.


Anonymous said...

Besides Henry Fonda is too old to be Pierre.

Anonymous said...

If an actor fits the role, age, or other individual characteristics can be surpassed, belief can be suspended, however in this case, the blatant miscasting obliterates any possibility that Mr. Fonda could act his way out of the obvious inconsistencies between his person and the role. No way. No how.

Honkymagic said...

And, putting Fonda in that role completely changes the nature of Natasha's character. Now, instead of finally falling in love with Pierre, she can fall in love with whoever it is that Fonda is playing, and that does not serve the story, or Natasha's character, at all. Why wouldn't she simply love Pierre / Fonda from the start? Because he might be a more forgiving person than Bolkonski, or a more decent person than Anatole?

Honkymagic said...

Heck, let's go ahead and cast Brad Pitt as Ignatius Reilly and finally get that Confederacy of Dunces movie made.