The cast did a great job, especially Fonda and Hepburn. The set pieces were beautiful and the battle scenes were very impressing. Of course there are moments when you feel corners are abruptly turned. Characters disappear like they never existed or are only mentioned in passing. There is no scene from St. Petersburg. Nikolas Rostov is barely there. But still, I thought it was good considering the source material.
A "faithful" adaptation of Tolstoy's sweeping epic is not the sole intent. The joy in being a spectator is Vidor's attempt at forcing a grand russian novel into a hollywood epic. What we get is a series of beautifully composed moving paintings. This film shows an artist at it's core. A fine work filled with success and failure, and yet still a marriage of all things cinematic. fuckin' amazing.
Vidor's adaptation suffers from a script that was rewritten during shooting, bad casting (Henry Fonda as Pierre?!), chaotic working conditions in Italy, and a final cut that was not Vidor's. Yet the film remains an impressive condensation of Tolstoy, filmed with a clarity and grace missing from the often bombastic and vulgar Russian mega-production. I wish Vidor had Bondarchuk's budget and running time.