Lifetime and A+E Television Networks invited Thornberg & Forester to pitch ideas for a film that would introduce select audiences to an epic miniseries based on Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. We dove in to the story, sharpened up on the historical events that inspired it and conceived three unique treatments. The first begins with a roving shot across a classic still life. Delicate macro images reveal that things are not as “still” as they seem. The scene evolves into something far darker, culminating in an epic main title shot. Next, aristocratic opulence clashes with the harsh realities of war. Within this apocalyptic world lives a vibrant, yet weathered red drape that becomes a hauntingly beautiful symbol and navigation device for the film. And finally, cracking oil paint of classic French and Russian paintings form clouds of color that sweep through the titles, revealing footage and cast in a beautiful way.
When the job awarded, we were asked to develop two of our directions to see which would work best conceptually. We created animated tests of both. In the end, dramatically-lit sculpture prevailed over the deconstruction and construction of oil paintings.
After reviewing the tests in the context of the rough edit, it became clear that our Kris Kuksi-inspired frame from Direction One spoke volumes. This frame informed our creative direction moving forward.
We combed through period art and developed a cast of several intricate characters in Maya. We studied the effects of light passing through marble and bone, rendered in V-Ray and added further dimension and atmosphere in composite.
We cut the raw dailies together as they came to us from the BBC. Each piece we received was truly captivating. The lighting and quality of the footage greatly informed our decisions for music, pacing and graphic treatment.