A Russian Prince experiences battle against Napoleon and a troubled relationship with his father and wife. Finds acceptance of her death and eventually his chance of true love. A spoiled, ... See full summary »
A six-hour long epic (original director's cut) about the life of Don Cossacs in a village in southern Russia between 1912 and 1922. The leading character Grigori Melekhov is a rugged Cossac... See full summary »
Previous to seeing this, the best version was Greta Garbo's with Vivien Leigh's close behind, while the Joe Wright-directed adapted fared least. Tolstoy's Anna Karenina is one of the greats of all Russian literature, and while this 1967 Russian version is not quite perfect and not for all tastes it does a great job with the story and gets closer than most of the other adaptations in capturing the detail and the spirit of the work, rather than just being the basic details in Cliff Notes version.
Some of the editing is a little abrupt in places and Anna and Vronsky seemed to fall in love too quickly, as if there was intended to be a few scenes in the film explaining Vronsky's infatuation that was cut out when it shouldn't have been. The print that the film comes in on the DVD is rather questionable, the constant colour shifts, the fading in and out, the washed out look and compression indicating a print that was badly damaged in the transfer.
Anna Karenina (1967) is, generally, visually well-made. The film contains some really striking cinematography, especially in the wonderfully delirious horse race scene and the tracking shots that allows one to admire all those splendid rooms and interiors in all their glory, haunting use of colour and 1860s Russia is evoked brilliantly in the truly sumptuous period detail. Rodion Shchedrin's music score is not for all tastes admittedly (with a few of the more dissonant parts a touch shrill), but this viewer found it beautiful and effectively chilling, the horse race and ballroom scenes being particularly well-scored.
The script is very literate and remarkably nuanced, capturing the spirit of Tolstoy's prose better than the other filmed versions. In terms of faithfulness, there could have been more with Anna and Vronsky's infatuation and descent into love, Levin is present but we don't get a sense of why he is so important a character and Levin and Kitty's subplot deserved better than being mentioned briefly. Other than those things though, this film is one of the more faithful, in detail and spirit, treatments of the book and despite the somewhat short length it has more depth than most of the other adaptations. There are some unforgettable scenes here, the horse race certainly is one but one cannot mention the very romantic ballroom scene, the scene in the theatre and the heart-wrenching suicide scene. The characters are still interesting, and the important parts of the story covered well, not just being a genuinely poignant love story but also a tense and unbearably tragic social drama too (one of the few Anna Karenina adaptations to achieve that balance).
The performances are uniformly good, with Tatyana Samoylova making for a very heartfelt Anna and bringing many nuances to the part in a way that was achieved by Garbo and not quite as much by the others. Vasily Lanovoy is a dashing Vronsky, but manages to bring depth to him, instead of being just a handsome heroic figure he is pretty un-heroic and unsympathetic actually. And there has unlikely been a more haunting Karenin on film than that of Nikolai Gritsenko. Yuri Yakovlev is amusing as Stiva, and Maya Plisetskaya (one of the greatest ballerinas of her day and of all time and wife of the film's composer Rodion Shchedrin) is a terrific Betsy.
In conclusion, imperfect but very good film, and compares extremely favourably with the rest of the Anna Karenina adaptations. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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