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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Anna on the radio with love and trains
There is an intimacy about radio drama that is the perfect medium for such well known stories as Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, a tale of secrets and lies, family deceptions, adultery and railway stations.

Listening to this archive recording from 1997 with its superb cast of actors, the next best thing to reading the book itself, I was reminded of the impact this...
Published on 27 Aug. 2012 by David Spanswick

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lacklustre dramatisation of part of the novel
If you were to stop a random person in the street and ask them the plot of Anna Karenina, assuming that they didn't just reply, 'Anna who?', they would probably say that it's the tragic story of a young mother who gives up everything for love. This BBC dramatisation would not disabuse them of this view, since all other aspects of the novel are quietly forgotten in favour...
Published on 8 Sept. 2012 by S. B. Kelly


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lacklustre dramatisation of part of the novel, 8 Sept. 2012
By 
S. B. Kelly (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Anna Karenina (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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If you were to stop a random person in the street and ask them the plot of Anna Karenina, assuming that they didn't just reply, 'Anna who?', they would probably say that it's the tragic story of a young mother who gives up everything for love. This BBC dramatisation would not disabuse them of this view, since all other aspects of the novel are quietly forgotten in favour of the central narrative, in which a selfish woman who has married for money and position, then betrays her husband, abandons her son and, deciding quite irrationally that her lover is tired of her, commits suicide. Unusually unsympathetic in this version, Anna often sounds alarmingly like Shula whining shrilly about something in The Archers!

The adaptor makes use of various peripheral characters to act as narrators: Anna's sister-in-law Dolly, her maid Anushka, Vronsky's manservant. This doesn't really work: if explication is needed, then an overall authorial voice would have been better.

It would while away a long car journey, but is no substitute for reading the novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Total disappointment (BBC Audio_), 18 Nov. 2012
By 
Angel House "Poet" (South Oxfordshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Anna Karenina (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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Anna Karenina is one of my favourite novels so I was very excited when I got the opportunity to review the BBC's audio adaptation. Sadly this is a great disappointment. Maybe it is because my expectations were too high. I wanted to be enchanted by the elegance of imperial Russia and the passionate love affair between Anna and Vronsky. But this was like a British soap. I felt like something more akin to Emmerdale than the classic writing of Leo Tolstoy. The pace of the dialogue is too fast and the accompanying music too tame. Maybe I just wanted actors who sounded like they are Russian.

I wonder if Anna Karenina is too difficult to put into script form. I have been similarly disappointed with the recent film adaptation of the novel - with Kiera Knightly where horror of horror, insufficient budget resulted in a line drawing of St Basils being used instead of the real thing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Anna on the radio with love and trains, 27 Aug. 2012
By 
David Spanswick (Brighton United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Anna Karenina (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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There is an intimacy about radio drama that is the perfect medium for such well known stories as Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, a tale of secrets and lies, family deceptions, adultery and railway stations.

Listening to this archive recording from 1997 with its superb cast of actors, the next best thing to reading the book itself, I was reminded of the impact this book had at its publication. It is a very moral story, a misogynistic one as it is Anna who is punished for her "crime" but the overriding sensation and my reaction as a 21st century listener is its tone. Although not strictly judgemental it is a book that condemns anyone who strays outside the strict codes of family, marriage and an established moral code.

The novel is Tolstoy's domestic masterpiece and its relevance is surely what keeps it forever in the top ten list of world literature, for, although,history shows us that progress is essential for evolution there are some templates set down centuries ago that have to be adhered to.

The recording here with the most splendid sound effects ~ the evocation of the busy railway stations that bookend the novel so skillfully is absolutely splendid ~ will, no doubt, become a land mark in the representation of this awesome novel and, though edited to keep with its allotted time slot, loses nothing of the intricacies of the novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly surprised at how good this is (although not perfect), 4 Oct. 2012
By 
J. S. Hardman "Consultant software developer ... (Near London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Anna Karenina (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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This BBC Radio 4 full cast recording is my first exposure to Tolstoy. I had always thought that Tolstoy would be heavy and long-winded. I'm glad to say that this adaptation of Anna Karenina changed my opinion. I was particularly impressed by the beginning of this adaptation, listening to it as I drove. Imagining the characters, visualising the settings etc was very easy, given the quality of the production. Unfortunately, the latter part of the adaptation seemed to jump a bit, with the flow of the story being lost a little. The ending then sort of fizzled out. Not having read the orignal, my suspicion is that either this BBC audio book or the English translation that it is based on, trimmed the latter part of the story and lost the flow and many nuances in the process. Given how well it started, it's a pity that the latter part didn't maintain the same standard.

So, production quality good, performances good, story - love, jealousy, betrayal etc, adaptation - started well but fizzled out. For those who have avoided Tolstoy previously, this might be a reasonable introduction, but it might be worth hunting out a better translation if you find the ending of this disappointing.

Recommended, with caveats.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric Epic, 30 Aug. 2012
By 
Sentinel (Essex) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Anna Karenina (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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As other reviewers have observed, it's difficult to abridge an epic tale into 3hrs 20mins of radio drama. I also felt that Anna's character could have been given more depth (perhaps less stock emotion), but overall I enjoyed this characterful and atmospheric production. Character voices were well differentiated, pace was well maintained, and I felt the sound effects and music added to the transition between scenes.

Despite my rather limited attention span, I found that the production gripped me throughout, and was certainly a much quicker way to absorb the plot than reading this huge tale, even if some of the backstory/sub-plots and subtleties are sacrificed as a result. Yet again though, I found the BBC notes miserly in the extreme (as with most of their radio drama collections), with little context given, nor any track information to help the listener 'cue' to an appropriate part of the narrative. It's also worthwhile pointing out that, unlike many of the other recent BBC sets, this one dates from 1997. I'm torn between 3/4 stars, but given its relatively modest price, and impressive production values, have opted for the latter.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't quite deliver, 25 Oct. 2012
By 
isis 1958 (Pendle) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Anna Karenina (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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I looked forward to listening to this but, on balance, it didn't quite "deliver" for me. It is nowhere near as compelling as the story should be.

The story is well known but at the outset the dialoge and scenes simply moved too fast. I didn't feel as if I had any time to get to know Anna, her husband, or Vronsky. Her husband, in particular, is key to the story. It is his mannerisms and character that drive Anna into the madness of the affair, but his character is never developed enough for us to understand that.

There are moments, as Anna's mental state collapses into jealousy and rage, that are genuinely moving. Whilst it is not comparing like for like, the BBC version (1977) on DVD is far superior. I realise that's not quite fair, but I have audio versions of "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" from the BBC and they are outstanding - so it can be done.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for fans of the film, 18 Oct. 2012
By 
JamesW (Nr Stroud, Gloucester) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Anna Karenina (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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Reviewers have commented that this misses out various plot elements and that may be true. Wouldn't know, I never read the book (shock horror) and this isn't an unabridged reading it is a drama.
I really enjoyed it, I felt the story was very well paced and the actors were extremely talented. The themes it explores are not all as relevant today but there are certainly some which are. The way women are portrayed in society was fascinating although deeply disturbing as to the double standards they endured

If you are a fan of the book then you may not be 100% happy with this, but I can't see why. It was a wonderful few hours of escapism
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4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent audio production of the Tolstoy masterpiece..., 17 Feb. 2013
By 
Christopher Meadows (York, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Anna Karenina (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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Note: This review refers to the Full Cast Radio Dramatisation - Amazon appear to collect all reviews for all the different editions in one place.

Anna Karenina is one of Tolstoy's better known works, alongside War and Peace. I'd never read the original text, so this audio version was my initial exposure to the work. This audio variant is presented in a double CD case, with the booklet art displaying through the clear plastic front. Unfortunately the red colouring of the case, whilst logical thematically, doesn't really match any of the other audio dramatization releases put out by the BBC - so may not match in amongst the rest of your CD's, depending on how they're organised. The booklet is brief, with the usual BBC details on the work and the production; the art used on the front cover is nicely evocative of the work.

The actual recording is up to the usual high technical standards of the BBC. Dialogue is crisp, clear, and easy to distinguish from background noise, whilst incidental effects are, if minimalistic, both appropriate and cleanly used. As usual with the BBC, the recording itself is excellent.

This particular edition of Anna Karenina is a full-cast dramatization. This means that rather than having a single reader, as with an audiobook, each character, minor or major, is played by an actor. This is quite helpful in this case, as all of the characters have rather lengthy (and sometimes difficult to distinguish) Russian names. Having a unique voice for each character made them much easier for me to keep separate. Furthermore, the actors seem to throw themselves into their parts, giving their dialogue an intensity and emotion that lifts this performance up. Those playing Karenina and Vronsky are especially good, which given the amount that they feature is probably for the best.

As noted above, I hadn't experienced Anna Karenina before, so the plot was a bit of a surprise; it moved along bracingly, overall, with the odd twist and turn, the occasional dramatic cliffhanger, that kept me keen to see what happened next. Given the size of the original text, I'm sure some parts were omitted - but I couldn't tell you where they were, so if there was any abridgement, it was well done. The dialogue is convincing, the plot compelling.

Overall then, this is a solid technical entry, with excellent and occasionally brilliant performance by a cast committed to making Tolstoy's creation come alive - and that creation remains as much a literary great as ever. Heartily recommended.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't quite hit the spot, 6 Dec. 2012
By 
H. Ashford "hashford" (Sheffield, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Anna Karenina (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
This is a review of the BBC audio dramatisation.

I was very much looking forward to listening to this dramatisation of Tolstoy's famous and powerful love story. Having read the book many years ago (when I was young and romantic!) and been very emotionally affected by it, I was looking forward to sharing the experience with my 16 year old daughter.

I have to acknowledge that it must be a fearsome challenge to attempt to reduce an 800 page novel into a 3 CD dramatisation. And I have tons of respect for the scriptwriters, producers and actors who contributed to this undertaking.

Disappointingly, however, this dramatisation doesn't manage to put across the passion and power of Tolstoy's love story. There just isn't time, I suppose, to develop the main characters sufficiently so that we can understand how their actions are driven by their characters.

Anna, in particular, is poorly scripted and over-acted - coming across as spoilt, immature, self-obsessed, and increasingly hysterical towards the end (whereas I wanted to be shown how she was driven to desperate action through her mounting despair).

Karenin is portrayed as a pompous "stuffed shirt", civil servant. And Vronsky is so shallowly drawn that we don't get much insight into his motivations or his real feelings for Anna until the very end.

Having said that, this is a beautifully executed dramatisation (as you would expect from the BBC) and has provided entertaining in-car listening for the family. Hence 3*s.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A passionate retelling of a classic masterpiece, 24 Oct. 2012
By 
Thomas Pots "T Pots" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Anna Karenina (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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This audiobook is a real treat! Having heard many of the BBC's productions, I count this one among the best of them - certainly the best I have heard since its production of The Far Pavilions. This one was first broadcast in 1997, so it's not exactly new, but the recording is crisp and lively, and the story is of course timeless.

This production offers a much-condensed telling of the novel (based on the translation by Louise and Aylmer Maude), which is inevitable in endeavouring to tell such a huge story in just three hours. Various episodes of the story are therefore missing, such as the details surrounding Karenin filing for divorce (the love letters and so on), and much of part eight of the book, but all the essential threads of the plot are there, as are all the most memorable scenes. It employs a full cast headed by Teresa Gallagher as Anna, and Toby Stevens and Count Vronsky, and thankfully omits none of the important characters.

The novel delves into Anna's mind - her thoughts and dreams. This production manages to take us there too, with dreamlike and echoing dialogue that fades into music or her waking world. The music is mostly Chopin, and makes frequent recourse to the unmistakable Nocturne Op 91 in B Flat Minor. The sound effects are plenty, but kept suitably low-key, so we don't lose the dialogue.

I was a bit puzzled at first by the accents. The story is set in Russia, but everyone speaks The Queen's English, as if they are in a posh part of Victorian England. Some faintly Russian-sounding voices might have helped the atmosphere, but once I'd got listening to the story, that issue faded away.

All in all, it is a superb piece of work, with plenty to keep you coming back for a second and third listen.
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Anna Karenina (BBC Audio)
Anna Karenina (BBC Audio) by Leo Tolstoy (Audio CD - 26 July 2012)
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