on July 31, 2002
What a beautiful and talented actress she was! Though most only remember her for Gone With The Wind, Miss Leigh's other roles were equally captivating. My copy of the DVD is fine, no quality issues, and it features Miss Leigh on the cover, not Garbo as another reviewer mentioned.
On to the romance. Anna Karenina is locked in a loveless marriage to a much older count. She falls in love with a handsome, dashing younger man and defies society by running off with him. In one scene, she comes back "home" to sneak in to see her beloved young son, whom she left to pursue her passion. What a heart wrencing scene that is!
Treat yourself to a night of classic cinema. Buy Anna Karenina!
on August 17, 1999
The 19th century's greatest portraitist of women would have been impressed by this very faithful adaptation of his ground breaking novel. Typical of this era in film making, the black and white photography is painterly. The final sequence at the snow-shrouded train station captures Tolstoy's writing and imagery to an astonishing degree. See this picture and harken to each word. You will be well rewarded.
on March 5, 2015
This is an exquisitely photographed and beautifully acted film that is amazingly faithful to the novel. The story of Kitty and Levin is much neglected, but that seems to be the case with many adaptations of "Anna Karenina." I thought Leigh's performance was tender, restrained and heartbreakingly lovely. She comes across as gorgeous, magnetic, and unconsciously seductive and makes Vronsky's infatuation with Anna wholly believable. All the casting was superb. I first saw this film on late night television decades ago in the very early seventies, and it was what prompted me to read the entire novel cover to cover, introducing me to one of the greatest fiction accomplishments in literary history. Now, having watched the film again, I find it in many ways as compelling as I did years ago. Some might say it is dated, even a bit creaky; but I was again deeply moved by it, and marveled at its fidelity to the personality of Tolstoy's characters and his major themes. Highly recommended. I also note that you can see a digitally remastered version of this on Amazon Instant Video. I think that's marvelous. My review is for the DVD.
on January 9, 2007
First of all, I've read Anna Karenina and I love it. While I was in Iraq this past year, I saw in the PX a copy of Anna Karenina....WHAT?...In Iraq? So, not being one to buy movies, I hesitated before saying to myself, "If I don't buy it, who will"...I bought it, watched it, and loved it. I expected it to be bad, but the movie really charmed me over. Not as in depth as the later BBC miniseries, but this has a unique place all its own. Watch it....and keep me updated!
on December 16, 2001
I can barely review the movie: everyone knows a movie adaptation of a great book like Anna Karenina is bound to have shortcomings. But let me tell you about this heck of a ghastly DVD production! Who on earth is behind this sloppy transfer? The movie was made in 1948, but you'd think it was 1918, looking at the hideously blurry, fuzzy, melted frames, and chopped soundtrack. Funny color gizmos even appear sometime for a split second on the screen, definite signs of the little care that was paid to the DVD production of this otherwise decent movie. A reviewer here mentionned the error in the poster on the cover (yes, that's Garbo indeed): if only that was the only sloppiness in this DVD output! Shame shame shame......
on February 17, 2007
First off, let us concede that neither the 1935 Greta Garbo "Anna Karenina" nor the 1948 Vivian Leigh version comes close to capturing the complexities of Tolstoy's masterpiece. Most significantly, Konstantin Levin and Kitty's relationship, and more particularly, Levin's protracted personal and metaphysical development, are dropped entirely, both screenplays preferring to treat the story as an adulterous romantic triangle with snowflakes instead of palm trees.
That said, what we are left with in both films are masterpieces of film craftsmanship, where the triple triumphs of cinematography, art direction, and costume design are the real stars.
Which is not in any way to lessen the contributions of the cast, who in both instances, make the best of what they have to work with.
Garbo enchants in many of her individual scenes, particularly with Freddy Bartholomew and Maureen O'Sullivan, (as Kitty). Who can forget her advising Kitty to seize her fleeting youth, with its promise of a dream prince to emerge from the blue haze of the mountain top. Equally impressive, is her muted aversion to Alexei Karenin, (Basil Rathbone).
But she fails in her depiction of a fatal love for Count Vronsky (Frederic March). Garbo, with her solemn, majestic and singular self possession--her "Queen Christina" like cerebral detachment, is simply too thoughtful, too deliberate, to in any way convey Tolstoy's impulsive, febrile and thoughtless anti-heroine.
True, she had forsaken all for John Gilbert in "Christina," but that decision was the result of deep and thorough soul searching, and explained with the eloquence of Solomon to her courtiers. In "Camille" she is by profession a lover, and so her ultimate renunciation of Armand, reveals the true depth of her character. But one cannot conceive of her destroying the lives of others to satisfy a whimsical infatuation.
And this is where Miss Leigh's Anna trumps Garbo, for Miss Leigh does successfully transmit Anna's neurasthenic and utterly reckless collapse at the feet of the dashing Count. She seems blown by forces much stronger than she--a daffodil in a windstorm, and light years from Garbo's deep Scandanavian imperturbability.
Given the alleged similarities between Miss Leigh and Anna's disposition, perhaps this is life imitating art. In any case, it is why she makes a truer Anna, and why the role serves as a warm up for Blanche Dubois...
She is also abetted in her interpretation, by the genuinely eerie, recurring, nightmare sequence--with the Charon like, white bearded old man, forever dogging her as he chinks away at the ice. An ill omen indeed ! And Miss Leigh conveys the desperation of her impending doom in every gesture and nuance.
Then too Keiron Moore, (despite being an inferior actor to Frederic March) is much more dashing and handsome as Vronsky--a fact which, at least in terms of audience sympathy, helps explain the attraction.
Strangely, Mr. March who had been so visually appealing as Dr. Jeckyll, just a few years earlier, photographs very poorly in the Garbo version, and is not helped by a buzz haircut.
And as superb as Cedric Gibbons sets and Adrian's costumes are as a backdrop for Garbo, we feel Mr.Andrejew's art direction and Cecil Beaton's designs get the nod here as well, if only perhaps in their European origin, and the deep, appropriately moody nineteenth century shadows with which they are lit and photographed.
However, as visually sumptuous cinematic recreations of a vanished aristocratic world--each version has much to savor, and should be taken in tandem.
on June 12, 2006
This would have to be one of the most underrated British films of the 1940's. Lavishly produced with designs by Cecil Beaton. Forget claims by critics that the film is dull or flat. I found it engrossing from the start. Then acting is good and the music by Constant Lambert is superb. One should note this release runs 111 minutes. However, there is a DVD (available in Australia) running the full 135 minutes (British release). Highly recommended.
on July 18, 2006
Screenplay by Anhouilh, and Ralph Richardson as Karenin. I saw this one before i saw the Garbo Karenina. Garbo was NOT well served by her screenwriters.
The look on Leigh's face in the final scene when she realizes she has recognized her lover...mistakenly...is heartbreaking.
The Duvivier ANNA KARENINA has always been considered generally inferior to the Garbo MGM version, and for years was only available in substandard video transfers and dim revival prints. Fox's spiffy new DVD is cause for rejoicing from film fans -- there's plenty to enjoy in this movie. (Only the most dogged of completists will complain that the version on display is the American release print, some 12 or so minutes shorter than the British version. Trust me, you won't miss the differences.) The screenplay, credited to Jean Anouilh, among others, is the usual trot through the novel, with Kitty and Levin receiving their customary short shrift, the better to concentrate on Anna. Leigh is in fine form here, tacking the last of her glamour roles in film with elegance and assurance. Given the turmoil passion wreaked in Leigh's personal life, her Anna's perhaps a bit cool, but she's intelligent, fine-grained, and ultimately very moving. As a nice plus, Leigh looks superb in her chic Beaton duds. Richardson's ideal as Karenin, and, in a large and distinguised supporting cast, Sally Ann Howes' Kitty and Martita Hunt's Princess Betsy give particular pleasure. (Michael Gough, in a bit part, manages to be as over-the-top irritating in a few lines as he was later in leads in such B-classics as KONGA and TROG, thereby putting the lie to my long-held opinion that he's an actor best suited to small parts.) The picture's major weakness is Kieron Moore's Vronsky. Handsome in a horse-faced way, he's no match for Leigh; their scenes together lack life and fire. The director generally throws the scenes her way, and with good reason. Even shrouded in semi-darkness, Moore looks lost. Altogether, not a great classic, but full of many pleasures, great and small.
on December 20, 2012
I really enjoyed this film! It was so beautiful! The script was more clear than in the Garbo version, and every scene had a more in-depth feeling. I could empathize with all of the characters; and, the reason Anna would leave for a lover was better understood here without painting the husband as totally unlikeable.
Her lover, played by Kieron Moore, had more life, more warmth; you could feel his pining for her, without feeling he saw her as a momentary possession (as I felt was the case in the Garbo version). This is where it turned tragic as well, as we wish Anna could've believed his words of love for her.
Vivien delivers so much; her craft is wonderful to see. There is more than a personality coming through here, she delivers her character's tale most sharply. There is more of a psychological trip we are carried through with Anna in this film, as we hear her inner thoughts, and get glimpses of her fears; it is quite provoking. Her intelligence, and her lack of being apologetic are all felt. In such a society, Anna's vulnerability is seen as well. Visually, this film is stunning, the costumes are beautiful and the scenery is gorgeous. I feel this film is greatly underrated.