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Stefan and Dolly Oblonsky have had a little spat and Stefan has asked his sister, Anna Karenina, to come down to Moscow to help mend the rift. Anna's companion on the train from St. Petersburg is Countess Vronsky who is met at the Moscow station by her son. Col. Vronsky looks very dashing in his uniform and it's love at first sight when he looks at Anna and their eyes meet. Back in St. Petersburg they keep running into each other at parties. Since she has a husband and small son, they must be very discreet if they are going to see each other alone. Written by
Dale O'Connor <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Closing credits: "And the light by which she had been reading the book of life, blazed up suddenly, illuminating those pages that had been dark, then flickered, grew dim, and went out forever". See more »
Opening credits: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Everything was in confusion in the Oblonsky's House". See more »
Count Tolstoy's massive novels, "War and Peace," and "Anna Karenina" are personally quite challenging.
Here are breathtakingly crafted literary works in a spiritual context of unconstructive energy. It's quite easy to become as entranced within these "worlds" as are many music lovers within the skewed terrain of Wagner's Valhalla and Nibelungens.
Tolstoy's words pull in the reader almost hypnotically as he spins his titanic, subtle tales of societal mores conflicting with human emotions.
Many of his characters are self-absorbed and vain, and his social environments repressive and stolid, with false values that tragically dehumanize and destroy.
So it's an ultimate challenge to attempt to separate these energetic downers from their dazzling technical counterparts.
In the case of "Anna," after stripping away the polished veneer, I find characters trying to cope with their testy emotional choices while being thwarted by inhuman societal standards.
Yet "Anna" is a favorite of filmmakers, having been done countless times, with the Garbo-Selznick version the most notable. Here Vivien Leigh gives a creditable performance of this distraught heroine, with Director Julien Duvivier joining Jean Anuith in script adaptation.
Ralph Richardson and Kieron Moore are both completely substantial, and general production values are attended to with solid professionalism.
Alas, the enactment seldom tugs heartstrings and, in fact, a strangely turgid pall seems to hang over the entire production. Condensing a 900-page novel down to 2-hour running time doesn't help matters.
As for Leigh, my feeling is that she gravitated too often to "fallen woman" roles. While she portrayed them very well, they may have failed to bring her the uplift her personality seemed to desperately seek. Hers was pretty much a career of depressingly joyless female characters, which perhaps worked not to her personal advantage.
That's another matter, though; Leigh was forever the consummate, fine actress, and her legacy is one of great artistic achievement.
This version of "Anna Karenina" remains a thoughtful, worthy attempt at a near-impossible task.
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