After six weeks of breathless storytelling, the BBC's adaptation of War and Peace came to an end last night – and it pulled no punches.Equal parts "gut-punching" and "heartstring-tugging", the finale offered viewers some final emotional twists for its characters before proceeding to kill off several of them, says BT.com's Alex Fletcher.
The BBC interpretation may have drastically altered the denouement of Leo Tolstoy's doorstopper but who cares, says Christopher Stevens in the Daily Mail.
The original ending, with its depressing epilogue, was a "stinker", whereas the TV finale gave Pierre, Natasha, Nikolai and Marya the happy ending they deserved.
Although the series wasn't without its flaws - in particular its mad gallop through 1,000 pages of plot - the conclusion sealed its status as "one of the most wonderful things ever shown on TV".
War and Peace is the "greatest TV costume drama of the past decade", for Ben Lawrence in the Daily Telegraph.
The story was spun out with "exquisite feeling", while the blood-soaked war scenes were "simply shattering".
Carnage on such a cinematic scale is rare in TV drama and War and Peace deserves praise for making it "so convincing but also wringing a primeval beauty from all this horror", adds O'Donovan.
"With one episode still to go, War and Peace is already the year's most ravishingly ambitious drama."If we were in any doubt as to why it was called War and Peace, we certainly found out in episode five, says Ben Dowell in the Radio Times.
BBC1's "superlative dramatisation of Tolstoy's masterpiece erupted into action", he says, and what action it was - noisy, bloody, brutal battle scenes.
Despite the need to condense so much plot into six and a half hours, Andrew Davies's script still managed to find room to offer psychological depth to the characters, enhanced by the performances of a talented cast.
One particular star was singled out for somewhat unexpected attention on Twitter – Samba the cross-breed, who played the loyal dog who chose to remain with her dead master on a frosty battlefield."Between Andrei and that little dog I'm not sure I can take much more of this!
" tweeted one emotionally exhausted viewer.05 February The moving and dramatic penultimate episode of the BBC's adaptation of War and Peace dazzled viewers and critics alike with bloody battle scenes, futile gestures and moments of redemption - although some commentators found the heady mix disorientating.