This version of the Tolstoy classic lingers longer in Moscow during the weeks that follow the initial meeting of the starstruck lovers-to-be Vronsky and Anna Karenina. The story -- as it unfolds -- also focuses on Kitty, a young woman who is related to Anna's sister-in-law whose marital rift has brought Anna to Moscow. Until Anna shows up, Kitty had hopes of getting Vronsky, who is single and well connected, to propose to her. Ignored by Vronsky, Kitty turns her attention to another suitor, a man who seems to have a lot in common with Tolstoy. Written by
Dale O'Connor <firstname.lastname@example.org>
For a film that tries to pack a 900 page novel into 95 minutes, Clarence Brown's rendition of Tolstoy's masterpiece is quite impressive. Naturally, there are aspects of the story that are forced aside- too little time is spent on the relationship between Kitty and Levin (who was a self-portrait of Tolstoy)- but Brown manages to portray the affair between Anna and Vronsky with plenty of depth and emotion.
Greta Garbo, one of the greatest actresses of the 30's, is stunning in the lead. Frederic March is a little flat as Vronsky, dressed in his military uniform in almost every scene, but manages to do well with the character nonetheless. Basil Rathbone's usual grimness suits Karenin perfectly. The production design is spectacular. Brown directs his cast so that they always stand out from the scenery, clearly visible amidst the decadence and imperial settings. The ballroom scenes, where characters dance gracefully while exchanging crucial dialogue, particularly impressed me.
A delight for Garbo fans, as well as anyone who likes costume pieces or literary adaptations.
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