How Many Episodes Is 'War And Peace'? The Miniseries Condenses Tolstoy Differently For American Audiences

When I first heard that Lifetime was airing an adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, I was understandably quite confused. The esteemed novel is not your regular Lifetime fare and due to it's epic scale, I had to wonder how many episodes of War and Peace there will be in the miniseries. The home of my beloved original movies is going deep with this miniseries based on Tolstoy's work, but the channel didn't actually create it. War and Peace is from BBC One and the miniseries has already begun airing in the U.K. — the U.S. will be able to watch the first episode not only on Lifetime, but also on A&E and History on Jan. 18 at 9 p.m.

Since Tolstoy's novel is usually considered to be one of the longest in the history of literature, it's fair to wonder how big of a time commitment you'll be making in watching the miniseries on your chosen channel. As Tolstoy's novel weighs in at a hefty 1,200 pages, you may expect that you'll be watching the miniseries for quite some time. While I'm ecstatic to check out Paul Dano, Lily James, James Norton, Gillian Anderson, and Jim Broadbent take on War and Peace, I understand the concern and stress of embarking on a heavy, multiple-part journey following five Russian aristocratic families during the Napoleonic Wars.

Surprisingly enough, the War and Peace miniseries is actually pretty standard in length. According to Halliwell's Television Companion, miniseries typically "appear in four to six episodes of various lengths." Fascinatingly enough, War and Peace is airing in both four- and six-episode formats, depending on where you live. As the three American channels will be showing War and Peace simultaneously, they are all keeping the same format of airing four two-hour long episodes every Monday for the next month. That's not the case over in the U.K. though.

While War and Peace will have the same final runtime no matter where it's viewed, the series is being broadcasted as six episodes on BBC One. The first three episodes of the miniseries have already aired over the pond, with episode three premiering on Jan. 17, and the adaptation by writer Andrew Davies (who penned the 1995 miniseries of Pride and Prejudice and was a screenwriter on Bridget Jones's Diary) is receiving favorable reviews.

I was amused to discover that even though the miniseries will be identical in the U.S. and the U.K., the marketing has been quite different, as you can see in the BBC One trailer versus the Lifetime preview below.

BBC on YouTube
Lifetime on YouTube

Whether you'll be watching on Lifetime, A&E, or History, expect to give eight hours of your life (including commercials) over to Tolstoy's War and Peace. Though it may sound long, it is a helluva lot shorter amount of time you'll be devoting than if you chose to watch the Anthony Hopkins 20-part (!!) War and Peace series or if you got inspired to pick up the classic book after watching Dano and James in the 2016 adaptation.

Images: Laurie Sparham/BBC; ajhistorical/Tumblr