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on July 7, 2014
ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS TO LOOK AT! STAR STUDDED - Though acting a little uneven

1997 version with Sophie Marceau and Sean Bean
This adaptation is perhaps the most visually stunning of the serious adaptations. I consider the recent version with Keira Knightly an art piece separate but listed below. This version incorporates real scenery rather than set artwork. The pastoral countryside, the palaces and country houses, the artistic cinematography, the imagery is just incredible. From Kitty's red coat against the white snow, the white lily's against green grass of a country palace, or the kiss after Levin's second proposal framed in a staircase under a massive stone archway (huge urns on each side, the light coming from the background creating negative space up front). As stunning as these scenes appear, they are seemingly natural to the flow rather than distractingly artistic. I felt the imagery even paid a little homage to the famous paintings by James Tissot which illustrate famous editions of Anna Karenina. Surely the art director had seen them. I included a few screen shots below, but they don't do full justice.

Almost every single character in this movie is played by a recognizable star. This is a strength and a weakness. The accents are a little uneven as the all-star cast doesn't come together in a cohesive whole. You will hear everything including British, American, Canadian, French and Russian accents. Noticeably so. Despite the stars, not all the acting is that strong as big names seem to be more important than proper casting for character. Plot flow can be choppy as expected for such a long book squeezed into a short movie. Picture quality was surprisingly good for an old DVD. Someday this will make an amazing Blu Ray transfer and hopefully they can add footage to flesh it out better than the original cut. Still highly recommended with caveats.

BRIEF COMPARISONS TO OTHER EDITIONS with links to the product (this list is not comprehensive and I apologize if a favored version is not represented. I already watched nearly 24 hrs of video not counting research and writing!) This list is not in order of precedence and each version has merits. You can see slightly more detailed versions of my reviews like the paragraph above by going to each product page.

1977 BBC Mini Series Anna Karenina with Nicola Pagett
The Gold Standard of adaptations even after so many years. Despite the 70's BBC acting style, this version has aged well with tremendous faithfulness to the book and ideas behind it. Performances are melodramatic to today's audience, but so good they are relevant. It is still my favorite rendition. You must be up for nearly 10 hrs worth of story though.

2000 Materpiece Theater Masterpiece Classic: Anna Karenina, Part 1 with Helen McCrory and Kevin McKidd
This version is the next longest I viewed and fairly faithful to the plot and spirit of the book. The acting style is more natural (less stage play melodramatic) and the entire focus seems to be on a realistic portrayal. Lead actors less compelling than I would have liked. This version will still be some peoples' favorite. It is not mine.

1948 Anna Karenina with Vivien Leigh and Kieron Moore
Classic black and white is a different style and shouldn't be compared too critically with modern adaptations. It has the charm of a golden age of cinema. Leigh is perhaps still the most elegant Anna and Kieron Moore the most dashing Vronsky after all this time.

1985 TV Movie Anna Karenina with Jacqueline Bisset and Christopher Reeve
Shortened or edited version is somewhat lifeless though the flow is less choppy than other adaptations. Badly in need of a restoration in video/sound quality and return of the lost footage not found in any copies I know of.

2012 Art film by Joe Wright Anna Karenina with Kiera Knightly
This is not for Tolstoy traditionalists! However, the stunning visuals and choreographed set pieces really are brilliant. It is set like a stage play and tends to swirl around a lot. I hated it the first time because I wanted something else. Understanding it better, I like it more.
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on January 6, 2018
This is a classic story being acted on the screen at least five times. This version is beautifully done with a lot of classic music presented for the viewer. My wife found it depressing but that is what this story is about, life isn't all peaches & cream. Many of the most memorable stories are not all we would wish. "Madam Butterfly", La Boheme" " Abelard & Heloise" all beautiful but tragic. "Anna Karenina" is such a story. And if you can tolerate tragedy & appreciate the production of this version of Anna Karenina there is much to enjoy. The scenery is stunning as is the architecture & palatial interiors. Emotions are powerfully portrayed by Sean Bean, Sophie Marceau & James Fox as their internal emotional fights struggle with trying to do what is expected of respectable society. I believe this film is an excellent adaptation of a classic Leo Tolstoy classic & one that should be added to anyone's repertoire.
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on April 17, 2017
A must have for the cinematography, if anything, but,no,this is a very competent version. With the different stories weaving very nicely and concise. Sophie Marceau is beautiful and carries the character well.
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on February 11, 2016
This is my favorite version of Anna Karenina, and I wore out my old VHS copy. Sophie Marceau and Sean Bean sizzle! The one-star rating is because about 20 minutes in, the movie stopped playing on my DVD player. Same results running it on my laptop. No scratches or smudges on the disk.
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on June 16, 2015
Leo Tolstoy's dramatic Book about a married woman who is pursued by a handsome man and a very sad end. This version Is good but it is unlike the book regarding content. It ends abruptly but aptly as it does in the book. It could have easily have been set in the English Celt country side, the Western Country where Thomas Hardy based ALL his books.
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on December 27, 2014
The beautiful Sophie Marceau made Anna K come to life. Sean Bean played a dashing Count Vronsky! The two had a chemistry that wasn't just sexual as I felt the Keira Knightly film did. Though I loved the Waltz scenes - it did look like a well financed film. In this version, it was the actors that made this one BEST!
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on March 6, 2017
Visually lovely but hard to follow due to multiple story lines and frequent switches between ub-plots. Sean Bean is dreadfully miscast. Not a film I'd choose to watch again.
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on December 1, 2017
I LOVE this version of Anna Karenina. CD in excellent condition and priced right
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on November 17, 2017
Classic. Not necessarily best version.
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on May 4, 2004
This film has lavish production values. However, it is simply too short to convey the nuances of the novel, and the plot has been altered enough to disturb the novel's devotees. Probably this is why I was unable to become deeply involved with the characters. I was also disturbed by the actress cast for Kitty, a character who in the novel stands for conventional female purity. In the film Kitty has husky, sensual speech and usually appears with a push-up bra that spills her out of a low neckline. The actor who portrays Count Vronsky is so wooden you can't understand why Anna would ruin her life for him. And, I can't understand the apparently random alternation of English speech with Russian plus subtitles. Watch this film for the costumes and sets, not the story.
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