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Anna Karenina [DVD]

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Product details

  • Actors: Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson
  • Directors: Joe Wright
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Arabic, Icelandic, Polish, Russian, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian
  • Dubbed: Russian, Polish
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Universal Pictures UK
  • DVD Release Date: 4 Feb 2013
  • Run Time: 130 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (218 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 747 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Anna Karenina is acclaimed director Joe Wright’s bold, theatrical new vision of the epic story of love, stirringly adapted from Leo Tolstoy’s great novel by Academy Award winner Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love). The film marks the third collaboration of the director with Academy Award-nominated actress Keira Knightley and Academy Award-nominated producers Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, and Paul Webster, following their award-winning box office successes Pride & Prejudice and Atonement. The timeless story powerfully explores the capacity for love that surges through the human heart, while illuminating the lavish society that was imperial Russia.

The year is 1874. Vibrant and beautiful, Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley) has what any of her contemporaries would aspire to: she is the wife of Karenin (Jude Law), a high-ranking government official to whom she has borne a son, and her social standing in St. Petersburg could scarcely be higher. She journeys to Moscow after a letter from her philandering brother Oblonsky (Matthew Macfadyen) arrives, asking for Anna to come and help save his marriage to Dolly (Kelly Macdonald). En route, Anna makes the acquaintance of Countess Vronsky (Olivia Williams), who is then met at the train station by her son, the dashing cavalry officer Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). When Anna is introduced to Vronsky, there is a mutual spark of instant attraction that cannot--and will not--be ignored.


Talk about setting yourself a tough task. Director Joe Wright, off the back of acclaim for earlier films such as Hanna and Atonement, decided to plump for an adaptation of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. Adapted, with some wise excisions, by Tom Stoppard, the story is set in 1874, and centres on the title character, played by Keira Knightley. Anna is in a respectable marriage, and yet succumbs to temptation when she embarks on an affair, risking her social standing as she does so. Also, there's the small matter of her brother, played by Matthew Macfayden, who has marital infidelities of his own on his mind.

Wright decides to juggle and frame this potentially complex narrative by use of theatre. Literally, as it happens, as his take on Anna Karenina uses the location of a theatre extensively and creatively to tell its tale. It doesn't always work, but it does usually engage, and the production design is simply exquisite.

There's no shortage of quality performances here too, with Knightley strong in the lead role, and Jude Law excellent as her husband. Perhaps the real star here though is the director himself. Anna Karenina may not always fully gel, but it's a fascinating, engaging adaptation of a rarely-tackled text. Wright's audio commentary is well worth a listen, too... --Jon Foster

By filming Leo Tolstoy's timeless novel as a series of theater pieces that play out across stages and catwalks, Joe Wright extracts Anna Karenina from the dusty pages of history. In her third collaboration with the filmmaker, Keira Knightley portrays the St. Petersburg aristocrat as a woman who loves her son, Sergei, more than her husband, Alexei Karenin (Jude Law). On a trip to Moscow, she meets Count Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), whose Snidely Whiplash mustache spells trouble, even as his sky-blue eyes prove impossible to resist. Wright contrasts their passionate union with the less cataclysmic concerns of Anna's sister-in-law, Dolly (Boardwalk Empire's Kelly Macdonald), whose capacity for forgiveness puts Alexei to shame, and Levin (Harry Potter's Domhnall Gleeson), who never gives up on Dolly's sister, Kitty (Alicia Vikander), even after she rejects him in hopes of a more glamorous future. When the affair between Anna and Vronsky becomes public, Tolstoy's antiheroine risks losing everything, but as readers know: she just can't help herself. Though Shakespeare in Love screenwriter Tom Stoppard ties together a colorful galaxy of characters who orbit around the photogenic central couple, the secondary performers provide the more deeply grounded performances, particularly Law and Gleeson. And for all the stylized, Douglas Sirk-inspired melodrama, Knightley's Pride & Prejudice costar, Matthew Macfadyen, who plays Dolly's wayward husband, lightens the mood whenever he utters one of his clever quips. If it isn't completely successful, Wright's reinvention is frequently quite dazzling--much like the genuine Chanel diamonds that illuminate Knightley's porcelain complexion. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Antenna TOP 500 REVIEWER on 12 Sep 2012
Format: DVD
Since it is impossible to do justice in a two hour film to such a celebrated classic, with its focus on inner thoughts, it is probably a good decision to try a different take, in this case the ploy of setting most of the scenes in a theatre, not just on the stage but in the wings, the walk-ways above the podium, the stalls and so on.

So, the audience is watching a film of a play of a book. This has the benefit of conveying a sense of the restrictions and conventions which may have driven Anna to "break out" and give expression to her love for Vronsky, but which also made it impossible for her to be accepted by society afterwards. On the other hand, the theatrical confines may make some scenes seem too stylised, artificial and therefore less moving e.g. the whispered gossip and disapproval of Anna's affair. I was also often unconvinced by the frequent technique of freezing minor characters into the pose of statues, to highlight say, the image of Anna and Vronsky falling in love as they dance together in a world of their own.

I was glad not to need subtitles, since many scenes are quite visually complex, requiring close attention to pick up all the fleeting impressions used to convey a good deal. Tom Stoppard's script is very effective, clear and unpretentious. I could hear every word, which is often not the case. There are some striking scenes such as a horse race in the theatre in which an audience becomes a crowd of real people, only to be replaced by characters painted on a stage backdrop.

All the actors perform well.
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50 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Cynic on 20 Sep 2012
Format: DVD
I had already seen the reviews of this film so was prepared for the somewhat odd theatrical take on it. Having read the book many many years ago I went with an open mind, but to be honest I found the overall effect to be strange and somewhat disengaging. There was undoubted spectacle about it, and from a visual perspective some scenes were stunning, but at the end of the day I found the film disjointed and difficult to follow as it seemed to jump between the conventional and the surreal.

Keira Knightley looking predictably stunning in some wonderful costumes, is sadly not a convincing character actress as I find I can never forget I am watching Keira rather become immersed in the character she is portraying(very much the same about her role as Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice)

I was unprepared for Jude Laws knock out performance as the tormented Karenin. I have never been a great fan of this actor, but I honestly believe his performance is award worthy. Unlike Keira Knightleys 'Anna', Jude Law became the personification of his character, and the film was worth watching for his performance alone. Matthew McFaddyn was also a delight to watch as Annas errant brother

Sadly, I left the cinema feeling oddly unmoved, and feeling that the movie could have given audiences much more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mrs C on 21 Sep 2014
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I had no preconceptions about this story prior to seeing the film as I am not familiar with the original Classic story. I bought this on whim as I am a fan of Aaron Taylor-Johnson and the film was inexpensive.

While the costumes are stunning and the sets are beautiful to behold, I felt a bit disappointed by this film. I understand what the story represents and in the hands of a brilliant actress, perhaps I would have found this film more enjoyable. While I have no strong feelings about Kiera Knightley generally, I cannot tell if I did not really feel sorry enough for Anna because of Ms Knightleys acting or whether it was the script that let her down. I found Anna to be spoilt and selfish and not a particularly sympathetic character. Sadly, for me, her husband was a pleasant and generous man, who was not even particularly angry or upset when the affair with Vronsky is revealed - He simply asks her not to make a scandal. If he had been a cheat or inattentive or mean to her in any way I may have felt more sympathy for Anna. Instead she has a comfortable life with her inoffensive husband, and embarks upon an affair with the very pretty but largely weak Vronsky and risks everything and loses.

Jude Law is fantastic as the relentlessly forgiving Karenin. I just felt that this character was the victim in the the whole saga as he did nothing wrong. Aaron Taylor Johnsons' Vronsky was pretty to look at but had little real substance as he neither fought for Anna or really went even out of his way for her. Preferring instead to continue his bachelor lifestyle much as before, even after everything Anna was publicly subjected to.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Merget on 30 May 2013
Format: DVD
The spectre of Mr Luhrmann is present in every scene of this stylised melodrama. Mrs Karenin's shocking intrigue with an army officer is played out in the `theatre' of the fashionable world - so the director starts the action in an actual little tacky theatre, cardboard scenery and all. As the story unfolds we keep drifting into `real world' for a while, then we are back in the theatre again. Eventually Anna will be rejected by Society when she makes an ill-advised appearance at the opera - at a theatre within a theatre within a cinema. It's a metaphor that certainly knows how to outstay its welcome.

And it's not even always well done. In a ballroom scene dancers freeze in attitudes, like a corps du ballet, while Anna and Vronsky make an impassioned exhibition of themselves around the floor. Ginger and Fred could have carried it off with feeling and grace but all the device does here is bring it forcibly to our attention that Keira Knightly & Aaron Taylor-Johnson are both, as we Lancastrians say, about as lish as a stone trough.

There's not much passion in the acting either. Knightly is the arty director's favourite dolly: put her in a hat and let her gaze at the lens through a black lace veil and, with suitable music, the audience will helpfully project appropriate emotions onto that porcelain face. But beyond her own three or four stock expressions she has no reserves to surprise us - and tragedy does need an actress who can tear herself and her audience to pieces.

Vronsky is certainly handsome. With his floppy curls (I'm not sure about those strange blond highlights, though) he has a look of the young David Hemmings. `Cor! Llanfairpyllgwingeth!
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