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Anna Karenina (1961)

3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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(Apr 14, 2009)
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Product Description

Anna Karenina (1961) (DVD)

Anna Karenina (Bloom), the young wife of Russian diplomat Karenin (Goring), is on a mission of mercy to help her brother Oblonsky patch things up with his wife after an injudicious affair, when she meets the dashing soldier, Vronsky (Connery). Anna is soon swept off her feet by Vronsky and begins an affair of her own. When Karenin finds out, he offers to forgive Anna if she will leave Vronsky, but she refuses, a decision which will have tragic consequences. Tolstoy's novel of infidelity and its haunting aftereffects has been adapted for film many times but none so moving as this deeply poignant, neglected gem.

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Leo Tolstoy's 1878 novel gets the BBC treatment in this stately adaptation, broadcast a year before Sean Connery's iconic debut as James Bond in Dr. No. The famously doomed affair begins when Count Vronsky (Connery) meets Anna Karenina (Claire Bloom, The Haunting), Prince Oblonsky's sister, at a Moscow train station. She's married to diplomat Alexei Karenin (Albert Lievin), but the attraction is instant and Vronsky is persistent. Further, Anna is unhappy in her union with a man her brother (Jack Watling) considers "cold as a pickled carp." She does her best to resist Vronsky's advances, but a relationship eventually ensues. Once Alexei figures out what's going on, he forbids her to see their son until she breaks with the count. Instead, she leaves him to become Vronsky's mistress, much to the disapproval of St. Petersburg high society. As Alexei tells Oblonsky with disgust, "She reeks of passion." As much out of humiliation as anger, he refuses to grant her a divorce, and an awkward arrangement takes a turn for the worse, leading Anna to believe that half a life is no life at all. Dozens of actresses, including Greta Garbo and Vivien Leigh, have taken on Tolstoy's heroine over the years. While the definitive version of his text has yet to materialize, Bloom offers one of the finer interpretations, and Connery broods and smolders handsomely. This DVD eschews extras and includes the following disclaimer: "Due to the archive nature of the material, the sound and picture quality may vary occasionally." --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Sean Connery, Claire Bloom
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Subtitled, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 14, 2009
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001MYIQJU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,423 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This rare version of the Tolstoy romance has been drawn from deep within the vaults of the BBC. Adapted by Donald Bull from Marcelle Maurette's treatment of the story, it isn't a definitive screen version by any means (the BBC would produce a more expansive 10-part miniseries in 1977), but the performances are quite excellent, headed by Claire Bloom's haunted Anna and a pre-"Bond" Sean Connery as Vronsky.

Called away from her husband and son in order to help resolve a rift in her brother's marriage, Anna Karenina (Bloom) meets by chance the dashing Count Vronsky (Connery). Having already resigned herself to a passionless life, counting the days until old age, Anna is completely unprepared for the romance which will soon overtake her. Abandoning cold husband Alexei (Albert Lieven), she runs away with Vronsky, but upon their return to Russia, Anna finds life as a social outcast too much to bear. Shunned by the people who were meant to be friends, paranoid about Vronsky's seemingly waning passion, and desperately missing her son, Anna's final act is somehow the fulfilment of her ultimate destiny...

"Anna Karenina" scholars will be a little disappointed at what's missing in this version (the characters of Dolly and Kitty are turned into quite minor figures, Anna's son Sergei doesn't appear until the last act, and Levin doesn't even feature), but what this severely-condensed version of the story leaves out is more than compensated with the performance of Claire Bloom as Anna. One of the great classical actresses of her generation, Bloom gives us a more delicate Anna, with a beautifully haunted quality. Often she doesn't even have to say anything, the camera has only to focus on her dark, expressive eyes, and the performance is there.
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7 Comments 9 of 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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This is such a marvelous performance by both actors. The film has the viewer wondering why time, money and energy are spent on anything which can't come close to this.
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This was a gift for my mother, who has other versions of this movie. Both Claire Bloom and Sean Connery do beautiful acting, as expected. It seemed more "stage-like", but would recommend for its beautiful acting by two incredible actors.
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this verison of anna karenina is like a televised play. which is not a bad thing, but i wished it showed anna being knocked up by her lover, played by the great sean connery before he became james bond in the 60s. watching anna go crazy with guilt and self-loathing can be quite devestating. i recommed this and any film version of anna karenina.
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Claire Bloom is beautiful, and it is nice to see Sean Connery as someone other than 007... :) He is a wonderful actor!
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By Rou on February 15, 2015
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can not see half of the movie is stopped and the image no longer appears
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