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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2001
As a Russian who has seen several film versions of Tolstoy's novel Anna Karenina, I should say that in my opinion this is the best. There is an outstanding Russian film filmed in the 60s, but it's impossible to find it in an English translation. So, this is really the best Western film! All the others just stylised the Russian life and showed a Russia which has never existed.
But this film shows the real Russian atmosphere of the 19th century (and by the way, there are some Russian actors playing in the film, and sometimes the heroes even try to speak Russian!). What is more, it was filmed in Russia. And although the directors of the film very strangely mixed Moscow and St. Petersburg (there is a shot there showing the choreographic school and the Academic theatre in St. Petersburg with the sign "Moscow"!), this film is definitely worth seeing!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 15 February 2012
Having read the book several times over the years and watched at least 5 different film/tv adaptations of it before this one, I must say that this version is the best film version I've seen. It has the usual limitations inherent in trying to cover the complexity of a Tolstoy novel in a two hour film, but that is unavoidable. It deviates from the story in a few details (such as having Anna miscarry rather than give birth to a healthy daughter to Vronsky). But the impact of all the wrong-doing - seen from a strictly moral view - of Anna and Vronsky is not minimized because of these changes, and that is the main thing.

The film is a determined attempt at making a FILM - a truly visual experience - and it succeeds most of the way. The dialogue is limited to what's necessary. This is not a talk-talk-talk movie. It requires actors who can really work with the camera, and both Sophie Marceau and Sean Bean - to just mention two - are very good at this.

It covers the two parallel love stories (Levin-Kitty and Vronsky-Anna) well, and the atmosphere is more 'Russian' than in any of the other versions I've seen both in its mood and in the balance between the two love stories. It doesn't hurt that it was shot on location in St. Petersburg, Moscow and environs or that the costumes are extremely well done. The lighting is carefully done to give the viewers a feel of the lush environment of the extremely rich Russian upper class. I also liked the touch of having the lower classes speak Russian and the upper classes only speak Russian to their servants but English (which in reality was French) among themselves.

It is well cast. I've always had trouble believing in Vronsky's attraction for Anna because he's described as a much more shallow character than Anna in the book, but Sean Bean's intensity and just-under-the-surface controlled passion carries it off to perfection with a minimum of dialogue. Sophie Marceau is lovely, charming and convincing as completely in the power of her love for Vronsky, a love which is at war with her love and longing for her son. Towards the end her shaky self-control and outbursts of jealousy/fear due to the precariousness of her situation - she is in effect completely at Vronsky's mercy - is convincingly portrayed. James Fox is a perfect dry and conservative Karenin, very upright and respectable, but dry as dust. Alfred Moline and Mia Kirshner as the earnest and somewhat plodding Levin and gentle, loving Kitty are also convincing in their roles.

The photography is unusual for a modern movie - in a few key scenes almost like tableaux vivants, very static, almost frozen - underlining the barely controlled passions simmering under the surface, or emphasizing the distance between 'society' and the isolated couple who have broken all the conventions and pay the price for it, or framing the 'perfect couple' (Levin and Kitty). And always underlining the grandeur of the surroundings with wide views over enormous staircases, ballrooms, churches etc. But this is not a thriller or an action movie and the slower camera/editing is a blessing.

It's a nice touch to have Vronsky and friend Betsy planning how to seduce Anna while watching the Black Swan in Swan Lake seducing the White Swan ... Also that Vronsky goes to watch Eugen Onegin (opera) while Anna is at home suffering from the side effects of opium addiction (nightmares and hallucinations) and contemplating suicide. I recommend reading up on the Eugen Onegin story ...
The important role that religion plays to these people is also made quite clear especially in relation to Karenin's attitude to divorce and in Levin's story.

Some versions of the story stop with the suicide which leaves one wondering whether Vronsky shakes the whole thing off and gets on with life or what. This version continues the story to its inevitable end, and the contained misery of Vronsky's last speech puts just the right finishing notes to the story.

The film score is almost too much at times, Tchaikovsky, Prokofieff, Rachmaninov, etc. It fits the story to a T. The ballroom scene must be seen to be believed, set to the waltz from Swan Lake.

The only reason for NOT giving 5 stars is that I've also watched the trailer on YouTube. And there are a few hints of at least two other scenes which it would have been great to have included in the final film. The film skips fairly quickly over the actual seduction and personal relationship of Anna and Vronsky and then concentrates on the social consequences, which did surprise me. A later scene of a 'scandalous' appearance at the opera by Anna would also have been nice to add to our understanding of the situation. Therefore the end result is 4 stars.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 12 September 2004
I have read this book and was looking forward to the acting performances of some of my favorite actors. They did not disappoint me. The scenes were set beautifully, costumes likewise. Music was enchanting. I feel I saw more of the secondary characters than Anna and her paramour who were supposed to be the focus in the film. Sean Bean is convincing as the man obsessed with another man's wife. Sophie is tiny in stature but commanding in her role. I feel half the novel is missing and the story is no longer an epic in the hands of this editor. Much of the meaning is lost. As a strong Sean Bean fan, I'm sorry he wasn't allowed more screen time, to help develop his character. As it is, I am not sorry I bought it because much remains of what was shot, but I wonder what it could have been like with another film editor.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
I first saw this version of Tolstoy`s Classic some years ago. I was enchanted and captivated by the sheer beauty of the production, the superb performances of the actors and the breathtaking tragedy of Anna as portrayed by Sophie Marceau. I have waited with patience for this wonderful film to be released on DVD. This version, originating in Germany has been cut to shreds. So much of the original is missing, it`s like watching a ` highlight show`. Furthermore, the English language Dolby 2.0 film is stuck with German Sub Titles which cannot be removed. As one who now lives in Denmark, although familiar with this practice (The Danes do it too), I found it nonetheless irritating to have words printed across the chests of the actors, diverting attention from the film on screen. Why is is that with digital technology allowing the viewer the choice as to whether to have or have not these annoying subtitles, the producers of this DVD have decided to make that decision for us. Please understand that my low appraisal and rating applies to this particular DVD issue and not the film itself, which is sublime. I just hope that an English Language version will be released, with the uncut version in all it`s glory.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 16 February 2012
As per usual, the book is better than the film and it is not entirely true to the book but a good effort is made to bring a very long and psychologically in-depth book to life.
The film as a standalone product is enjoyable - if only to see a tragic love story, set in Russia, with magnificent costumes and scenery. (and to see the gorgeous Sean Bean at his best!).
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on 30 May 2015
This has to be one of the worst, most disappointing films I have ever seen. Sean Bean, Sophie Marceau, James Fox and Alfred Molina - all superb actors, so what could go wrong? Actually, everything. The film appears to have been made on a shoestring budget, is appallingly written and directed, as a result of which the actors hadn't a hope of performing well. The story is about two selfish people who meet, find they have an overwhelming sexual desire for each other and embark on an affair which, because it isn't real love, wrecks their lives and those of the people around them. The story doesn't 'flow' well, not at all in fact, and there's absolutely no chemistry between the actors either. I would gladly give away this DVD but I don't feel it would be fair to inflict it on other people! As Leo Tolstoy's book is so famous I can only assume that it is much, much better than this film - mind you, that wouldn't be difficult. Tolstoy must turn in his grave every time someone watches this film!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 1 February 2001
One more Anna Karenina here. The directing is better I think, but not the acting. Sophie Marceau strives hard to look dramatical but it is hardly said that she actually looks like Anna Karenina as Tolstoy portrays in those hysterical scenes. Combined with better visual effects and a nice selection of musical compositions though, overall, this is a good film.
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on 23 August 2014
A classic ! made even more watchable by the perfomances of Sophie Marceau and Sean Bean with Tchycosky as the sound track get your tissues out
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on 24 October 2014
Happy with the item I purchased,arrived in excellent condition as advertised.
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on 4 October 2014
Itwasingermanicantunderstandwhyitwas,ntinenglesh
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