Vyacheslav Tikhonov, who starred as Prince Andrei Bolkonsky in Sergei Bondarchuk’s War and Peace (1967), died last Friday (12/4) at the age of 81. Tikhonov is one of a trio of actors, along with Lyudmila Savelyava as Natasha Rostova and Bondarchuk himself as Pierre Bezukhov, that anchor the massive four-part film with trenchant, unforgettable performances, the only downside being that, when re-reading the novel after seeing the film, one can only visualize the characters as they had come alive under Bondarchuk’s direction. Somewhere in his mid-thirties when photography began, Tikhonov was a bit too old to play Andrei, but with his handsome severity and cool hauteur, he brought off a perfect realization of Tolstoy’s character, who can barely contain his disgust at the parade of human folly he’s endured since his marriage to the shallow Lise (Anastasiya Vertinskaya). War, Lise’s death, and Natasha’s life force transform him, and Tikhonov projects this arc of redemption in a virtuosic display of underplaying. Like Savelyeva as Natasha and Bondarchuk as Pierre, Tikhonov just is Prince Andrei. Bondarchuk seems to have intermittently used the text of Tolstoy’s novel as the shooting script, not to mention as prescriptive to casting: if the author describes Andrei as short in stature, well, so too was Mr. Tikhonov.