n 1805 Russia is at war with France though idealist Pierre Bezukhov, illegitimate son of a wealthy count, expresses admiration for Napoleon, a view not widely held in St Petersburg whilst Pierre's friend Andrei Bolkonsky, tired of high society and marriage to the pregnant Lise, decides to enlist and fight the French. After carousing with Anatole, unruly son of austere Prince Vassily Kuragin, Pierre travels to Moscow, calling on the Rostov family, whose daughter Natasha encourages romance between cousin Sonya and brother Nikolai, before visiting his dying father. Pierre is left everything, to the annoyance of another heir, Vassily, whose gold-digging daughter Helene snares Pierre into marriage. Meanwhile Andrei joins General Kutuzov in Austria, where their army is defeated by the French and Nikolai is captured.

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