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Masterpiece Theater: Anna Karenina [VHS]


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Product Details

  • Actors: Douglas Henshall, Helen McCrory, Stephen Dillane, Paloma Baeza, Mark Strong
  • Producers: Dic Jones, Helena Pope, Teresa Dworzecka
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 2
  • Studio: Wgbh / Pbs
  • VHS Release Date: March 20, 2001
  • Run Time: 360 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000059TPH
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #557,590 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. This famous line commences a refreshingly modern interpretation of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina-—an epic tale of love, duty, marriage and infidelity. This richly detailed film charts the tragic romantic triangle formed when the dashing Count Vronsky defies social conventions and falls into forbidden love with Anna, the ignored wife of an aristocrat. Soon, Anna’s children—a son by Alexei and illegitimate daughter by Vronsky—become pawns in Alexei’s game to see that Anna pays a terrible price for her indiscretion. With its gripping narrative and unbridled romance, Anna Karenina reveals the uncontrollable passion, emotional betrayal and courage of a woman who violates moral strictures and risks everything to follow her heart. Helen McCrory stars as Anna, along with Kevin McKidd (Trainspotting) as Count Vronsky, the handsome object of her desires; and Tony Award-winner Stephen Dillane (The Real Thing) as Alexei Karenin, Anna’s callously principled husband.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By S. Gardner on June 10, 2001
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
This is a stunning, not-stuffy-at-all adaptation of Tolstoy's seminal work. The casting is excellent and the script is true to the story line. Anna is particularly well-cast. She's passionate, loved by men and women alike, smart and compelling to watch. The two men in Anna's life are well cast, as well. Anna's husband's character is portrayed with all of the depth that he has in the book, which is an impressive feat. The man who plays Vronsky was a perfect choice even if he is blond and in the book he is dark.
The Kitty/Konstantin parallel plot is very well done, and both characters are also very well cast. In the book, Kitty has more depth than is portrayed, but she is beautiful and charming here nonetheless.
They don't rush the plot. It is presented thoughtfully which does Tolstoy's masterpiece the due it deserves. Watch this over several nights if you want. You'll think about it all day, every day until you're done watching the whole thing.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By daisy mae on October 29, 2001
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
I read the book many years ago, so I was very much looking forward to the PBS version. I was not at all disappointed. The cast was outstanding, especially, in my opinion that of Vronsky. Kevin McKidd played him with such touching depth and sensitivity, it left me breathless. Helen McCrory is also excellent as Anna, as was the character of Karenin. I am glad this version chose to give Karenin much more complexity and create him as a more sympathetic character than some of the other versions. This movie did an outstanding job of weaving the plot all together and coming to the final tragic conclusion. It left me spell-bound the whole way through. I can't imagine anyone coming away from viewing it and not be affected somehow for a long time. It is so relevant to today- just one of the greatest stories of all time. Simply wonderful.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Aardsma on October 15, 2005
Format: DVD
This version of Anna Karenina is so good. It's true to the book without all of Karenin's business dealings (which were rather dull in the book). Love the story, so compelling, so tragic and so passionate...ah...Excellent movie, amazing story.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Wes Neskora on October 23, 2004
Format: DVD
This miniseries is FANTASTIC! And I am SO happy it is finally getting it's DVD release here in the U.S.! The story centers around Anna and her shameful affair with Count Vronsky. This miniseries actually tells the full novel in depth, other than the 1997 theatricle release starring Sean Bean. Also, the Anna in this version is much more beautiful than in the theatricle release. So, buy it, and you will not be dissappointed!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Leslie Thompson on July 31, 2006
Format: DVD
This is an excellent adaptation of Anna Karenina. Brilliantly casted, with Helen McCrory as Anna and Kevin McKidd as Vronsky. McKidd has a sort of Russian look about him, though I can't exactly describe it. McCrory's animated deep-set eyes look more and more tired and hopeless by the end of the movie. A near perfect Anna in all her moods and actions. And her laugh is the kind that sticks in your head afterwards, and sometimes you miss hearing it.

It must be hard to condense such a mammoth novel, but this adaptation succeeded in bringing together most of the central points of the book (much more so than the wretched version with Sean Bean and some french actress, which was far too short and left out critical scenes).

Every time I hear Chopin's "Waltz in C# Minor," I think of the ball scene in which Anna is ostracized and Vronsky accepted. Sadly, this double standard is still in place today.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By liveinbooks on October 10, 2010
Format: DVD
I first fell in love with Tolstoy's masterpiece at age 16 and have reread it many times since; it is my favorite book. After watching both this film and the 1977 Nicola Pagett version, and comparing the various shortcomings of each, I am convinced that the work cannot be adequately translated into film. No mere actress can bring to life the exquisite, fascinating perfection of Tolstoy's Anna; no actor can be as noble, authentic, and lovable as Levin. These are two of the truest characters in the history of literature, and you must read the book to meet them (as well as Vronsky and Kitty) in all of their marvelous complexity. You can only know them fully through the mind of Tolstoy.

Of the two, the 1977 film is much more faithful to the book; it is ten hours long and includes all the most important scenes. The characters, though lacking in depth, are at least consistent with Tolstoy's original. The screenwriters of this four-hour version, however, took inexcusable liberties with both Levin and Vronsky, conjuring up scenes that could never have happened, scenes that undermined the noble, dignified character of these two men. The shorter film is superior only in its cinematography.

Though both films were enjoyable to watch, they do not have what makes this story great:Tolstoy's genius. Read the masterpiece, even if it takes you weeks or months!
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By N. Thomas on January 26, 2006
Format: DVD
Helen McCrory literally embodied the role of the ill-fated Anna Karenina in this production. Her journey from the pinnacle of High Russian society to the depths of despair as an outcast was captured by Ms. McCrory exceptionally well.

Stephen Dillane and Kevin McKidd also expertly deliver, playing Alexei Karenin and Alexei, the Count Vronsky, respectively. Dillane's portrayal of the icy, unfeeling Karenin was superb; even more so was McKidd's steamy, passionate reading of the enamoured Vronsky.

I was also well pleased with the performances of dear old, always-in-period-pieces Amanda Root, and familiar faces with Paul Rhys and Paloma Baeza, all delivering excellent performances.

However, the role of Levin (Kitty's eventual husband), played by Douglas Henshall, worked my last Tolstoy-loving nerve. Actually, I was relatively unimpressed with the fact that the entire cast, while portraying Russian nobility and speaking about journeying to St. Petersburg and Moscow, spoke with upper-crust British accents. I believe well-developed Russian, or at least SOME version of Eastern-European, accents for the cast would have heightened the atmosphere of the Russian background in which the story is set. Mr. Henshall's ridiculously thick Scottish brogue -- dripping moss-covered syllables as he mumbles on about rubles and vodka and the czar (?!?!) -- simply defied both logic and validity.

I think his role could have been much better cast.

Overwhelmingly, however, "Anna" remained very true to the novel, and I think, despite his undoubted confusion over the accents of the actors, Mr. Tolstoy himself would consider this adaptation a credit to the world were he able to view it for himself.
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