On a sleepless night, having lost faith in life, Andrei Bolkonsky hears the voices of two girls. They belong to Natasha Rostova and her cousin Sonya, both thrilled by the beauty of the May night. The girls’ enthusiastic chatting, accidentally overheard by Andrei, instils new hope for happiness in him.
The feast of the New Year’s ball is in full swing, but Natasha, whom nobody seems to notice, feels lonely. Pierre Bezukhov introduces Natasha to his friend Andrei Bolkonsky, suggesting that he invite the girl to dance. There is an immediate change in Natasha—she is happy. Andrei imagines if this girl could be his future wife.
Time has passed. Natasha’s father Ilya Rostov brings Natasha, Andrei’s future bride, to meet the family of the groom. Old Prince Bolkonsky refuses to talk to Natasha and lets Andrei’s sister Marya converse with their guests. In his rage, the old man insults Natasha considering her unworthy of his son.
Helen Bezukhova arranges for her brother Anatol Kuragin to meet Natasha. Anatol confesses his love to the girl, trying to seduce her. Confused and embarrassed, Natasha is unable to understand the feelings that came over her, and she assumes she is in love with Anatole.
Anatol Kuragin persuades Dolokhov to kidnap Natasha and arrange a secret wedding ceremony.
Natasha is waiting for Anatol, having decided to run away with him. But Sonya divulges the secret to Akhrosimova. Akhrosimova prevents the kidnapping. Pierre Bezukhov informs Natasha that Anatol could not wed her, for he is already married. Desperate, Natasha tries to commit suicide.
The enraged Pierre Bezukhov demands that Anatol return Natasha’s letters and immediately leave the city. Frightened, Anatol agrees. Denisov announces the beginning of the war.
Preparation for the battle of Borodino. Andrei Bolkonsky’s conversation with Denisov stirs up memories of the past, of the painful split from Natasha and of his father’s passing. Field Marshal Kutuzov takes a tour of the positions of his soldiers. He addresses everyone with words that inspire for heroic exploits.
Napoleon is watching the battle. Instead of joyful news of victory, he receives reports of losses and requests for reinforcements from all sides. He is overcome with a sense of an impending catastrophe.
The enemy army is raiding the city in a frenzy. The rest are angrily watching the looting. Pierre Bezukhov hatches a plan to kill Napoleon. Being among those arrested for arson, Pierre miraculously manages to escape the execution. He gets attached to a convoy of prisoners, where he meets Platon Karataev. Karataev undertakes care for Pierre.
Critically wounded, Andrey Bolkonsky is in a state of severe delirium. He sees many things differently now, he wants to bring back the past and meet Natasha again. But when Natasha appears, he takes her for a vision. She asks the dying Andrei to forgive her for all the suffering that she caused him. In horror, Natasha feels how along with the fading delirium, the life of her loved one is going away.
The defeated enemy army is retreating, leading prisoners under escort. Among them are Pierre Bezukhov and the sick Platon Karataev, who is unable to walk any further, so the escort finishes him off. The partisans fight to free the prisoners. In the midst of jubilation, Field Marshal Kutuzov addresses everyone with words of gratitude for their courage in the fight against the enemy.