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I think that Aleksandr Zarkhi's adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's famous
novel "Anna Karenina" is one of the best screen versions of the book.
It was filmed on the locations where the novel's events took place, its
characters speak in the original language, and the spirit of the book
was successfully transferred to the screen mostly due to the
performances and the cinematography by Leonid Kalashnikov.
Tatiana Samoylova (radiant Veronica of "The Cranes Are Flying") plays Anna exactly as Leo Tolstoy had intended her to be, a victim of overwhelming passion, a woman who had lost herself to love, for whom the whole world had concentrated in her beloved Alexei Vronskiy, and once she felt he had became tired of her, she simply could not and did not want to live. The world famous Soviet ballerina, Maya Plisetskaya took a role of Anna's friend, Princess Betsy Tverskaya and just to see her walk is worth watching the movie. There is much more in it. Some scenes are unforgettable after so many years. Among them, the Vronsky's horse race with the rapid cuts from the faces to horses' heads scene that has to be seen to believe; the first dance of Anna and Vronsky - during the dance the lives of many people had changed forever, or the scene in the theater where Anna dared to show up after she had left her husband and moved in with Vronsky. For a woman of her social position, it was absolutely shocking and totally unforgiving. She was crucified with the looks of the St. Petersburg's Aristocracy but she was standing on the balcony all alone, beautiful and smiling and no one knew what she was going through.
The original music for the film was written by Rodion Shchedrin who would write later the ballet based on "Anna Karenina" and his wife, Maya Plisetskaya will be dancing Anna - but it is a different story altogether
Visually this movie is a black sheep among the other Soviet movies: it's shot absolutely astoundingly for a Soviet movie! Lighting and scenery are astonishingly crafted, wide-angle objectives, cranes and dollies are artfully used throughout the film making it look, despite of the poorly emulsified film (though not that bad for those times), like a highest-budget Hollywood movie. Photography direction and editing are also up to the highest notch! Direction and acting are great, no reason to praise anyone higher than the others (though my favourite is Nikolai Gritsenko as Alexander Alexandrovich Karenin). Truly a piece of a pure cinema art, absolutely creative, original and rich. Watch with pleasure.
Anna Karenina by Leon Tolstoy is the best novel I have ever read. I have seen a few movies based on it, but the best one on my opinion is that old version with Samoilova, Lanovoy, Vertinskaya and of course the amazing Maya Plissetskaya. What a wonderful cast! For me, Samoilova is the closest physically to Anna's character and for that, I can forgive the gossips about the influence of her father in obtaining this role. The movie is great and until now, 2005, nobody can beat it. Even taking into account the dark ages when this movie was done, it it regretful that it is not known enough throughout the world. I just keep hoping that it will be screened again at least on TV.
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
Alexander Zarkhy's "Anna Karenina" is the best Karenina in the world. May
it's even better then Leo Tolstoy's romance :)) I've seen a lot of films
on this romance, but no one of them, IMHO, compares to this one.
Anyway, Tatyana Samoylova is great actress, and Anna's meeting with her son Serezha is one of the most touching and heartbreaking cinema episode I've ever seen.
Tatyana Evgenyevna, ya ochen' Vas lublu :))
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Leave it to Tolstoy's people to get it right !!! Of the three versions I have now seen,and will not see any others till I read the novel,this is by far the best.It plays like a Shakespearian tragedy,but in this case its Imperial Russia instead of England.Ah,all unknown Russians to me but they all fit so very well and truly make the triangle believable.Old rich and powerful husband,middle aged beautiful wife,we would today call a MILF, and dashing young military officer.Bad news for love but great for us.Released in 1967 and running 145 minutes,it may be hard to find this film,in fact,since it was made during our cold war,I don't even remember it from back in the day. Unlike the other versions,1935 and 2012,this one does more then lip service to the other characters.Anna's cheating brother,his wife and younger sister,of which Anna stole the dashing young officer from,and later she fears is trying to steal her now husband. All wounded love affairs that perhaps are metaphors for the brutal future ahead,Set in 1876 they are but under 40 years from the end of Imperial Russia. Anyhow,I now see the selfishness of Anna,but also the child in her.Married to a much older man at 18,she never lived and now is experiencing what men call a midlife crises.The real victim here is her honorable husband that she now hates because he's so perfect.But he did "steal from the cradle"and with all the religious references,for me,he reaped what he sowed.The dashing young officer ?? Hot headed at both ends due to his flaming youth. The only sound couple was the young sister in law,but she suffered her own loss lover and "settled"on a man that she later learned to love,and he??Well he suffered doubt and the pain of rejection but his perseverance finally paid off.Anna's brother and his wife,sadly making the best of a bad situation as most do.Sad,but also sadly true to most of us.I can see the attraction to this story despite it being so aristocratic.Look for it if doomed love is your thing.
Whoever cast Tatyana Samojlova as Anna has some explaining to do. This film would be beautiful if it weren't for the star, who completely ruins every scene she's in. She is a terrible actress and her unattractiveness is a serious problem, as we are supposed to love Anna's grace and beauty. This is why her character is so tragic: this great beauty married to an old bore - we're supposed to understand why she follows her heart and goes for Vronsky, and even sort of root for her, believing she deserves her 'grand amour.' None of this comes through as you just hate Anna and her gigantic head. The film is ruined. Nepotistic casting at its most pernicious!
for a part of its public, the best adaptation of the novel of Tolstoy. for me, one of good adaptation for the performance of Nikolai Gritsenko, who does a memorable Karenin and for Maya Plisetskaya. for few admirable scenes. for music. Tatyana Samoilova does a decent job. but she seems be prisoner of Veronika. and that fact becomes obvious scene by scene. she gives fragments from the image of Karenina. but the identification with the character seems be more than difficult. something missing. something impose to entire film to be out of psychology of her character. only her silhouette. sure, it is a beautiful film. but it is not the film of Samoilova. because she took , in real sense , the role in few scenes - first meeting with Vronsky, the dance with him, the dialogues with Karenin, the last meeting with Serioja. same situation for the too far by his character for Vasili Lanovoy. short, a beautiful adaptation. but its beauty is the only great virtue.
This film re-creates the historical setting of the 1860s brilliantly,
then spoils it all with an Eisensteinian-expressionistic style of
acting and photography that gives one the giggles with its melodramatic
jerkiness. Worst of all is Rodion Shchedrin's shrill, strident score.
It would be too loud and insistent for an axe murder in an insane
asylum; in a drawing room from the reign of Alexander II it sounds
simply ludicrous and irritating.
Vasili Lanovoy is handsome and romantic-looking as Count Aleksey Vronskyhis stiff bearing probably correct stylistically, his costumes wonderful. He does love to stare and lurch in that "I-am-Ivan-the-Terrible's-kid-brother" manner of Soviet film. His hair piece is not very good, either.
Lanovoy does at least very much look his part, which is more than can be said of the woman playing Anna Karenina. She looks a lot more like Anna Magnani, complete with black moustache. Mme Karenin is supposed to be an extraordinary aristocratic beauty, a being from the highest society. Here she looks like she has strayed from a film by Pietro Germi. The actress likes bombastic reactions right out of Mexican television drama, which the camera captures with Shchedrinesque careenings.
That great acting was possible, even in this school of film, is witnessed to by the master player of the role of Aleksey Karenin, Nikolai Gritsenko (19121979). He is quite unforgettable and detailed; he helps one understand Tolstoy better.
Most of the film is the other way around: one would hardly understand anything if one had not previously read the novel. The abrupt and disconcerting editing doesn't help.
No film could ever hope to do justice to such a literary masterpiece, but Clarence Brown's 1935 version is incomparably more satisfactory. Too bad. This could have been wonderful.
This movie was done well. The filming was beautiful and Tolstoy's novel (in so far as it is possible) was presented in a good light. The only spot that marred an otherwise-good film was the performance of the leading actress, Samoilova, playing Anna Karenina herself. So inept, clumsy,, irritatingly false and unconvincing was her performance that my single greatest sentiment throughout the film was: "Come on! Throw yourself on the train-tracks and get it over with!" Sadly, for over two hours my prayers went unanswered. A positive note, however, was struck by the stunning performance of the former legendary ballerina, Maya Plisetskaya in her role as the social lioness, Princess Betsy Tverskaya. Vasilij Lanovoj (memorable as Shervinsky, in 'Dni Turbinykh) was also a pleasure to watch as he made the most out of the relatively small role of Vronsky. In short: This would be a higher-than-average film, but for the tragically poor performance of the single actress that was under particular obligation to play well.
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