Anna Karenina (1997) Poster

(1997)

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10/10
Terrific, just plain terrific
Robert John Bennett20 February 2005
According to an earlier review, this movie is supposed to be "just plan awful." The writer probably meant "plain" instead of "plan," and that misspelling may be an indication of the quality of the review.

There is much to be said for the viewpoint that this film version of Tolstoy's novel, starring Sophie Marceau, must certainly be one of the greatest versions ever produced.

Tolstoy himself lived to see just the beginning of the era of the motion picture and was said to have been fascinated by the possibilities the new medium presented. If so, he would no doubt have been quite astonished at the beauty and the extraordinary quality of this rendition of his story about Anna Karenina. The production values are among the highest there could possibly be. The costumes, the cinematography, and the sets – unlike earlier versions, the film was shot on location in St. Petersburg and elsewhere in Russia – are at such a remarkable level that the action almost does appear to be really taking place in the Czarist period at the end of the nineteenth century.

As for Sophie Marceau's mild French accent – which the above-mentioned reviewer found so irritating – it is quite likely that many upper-classes Russians of the period actually did speak with a French accent. It was not Russian but French that was the dominant language among the Russian nobility and aristocracy of the time – for some, French was in fact their native language, since many of them never learned to speak Russian at all, except perhaps a few words and phrases they could use to communicate with the servants.

What is perhaps most remarkable of all in this film is the utterly believable way that the behavior of the of characters is presented. Their motives are suggested with great subtlety, not in the somewhat simplistic tones of the (nevertheless still magnificent) MGM version of the film that starred Greta Garbo seventy years ago. Anna's husband is not a monster, for example, in this new version, but a rather pathetic, right-wing government bureaucrat with obsessively strict moral values. Moreover, the portrayal of Anna's behavior throughout the film, and especially in the final scenes, is a masterpiece of sympathetic psychological insight and understanding.

This film is a – for the time being, anyway – neglected classic.
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9/10
Faithful to the novel and a pleasure for the eyes.
alberto f. cañas15 March 1999
Of all the versions of the Tolstoy novel which I have seen (two with Greta Garbo, the deplorable one with Vivien Leigh, another with Jacqueline Bisset), this is the one that really reflects the scope and social observation of the book. The careful direction and art direction, the St.Petersburg backgrounds, as well as the exquisite cinematography, make this movie a real feast for the eyes, with magnificent plastic compositions and lighting in every shot. The abused Tchaikovsky music was used discreetly. Sophie Marceau plays a very young Anna, and makes her credible all the time. Sean Bean and James Fox, as Vronsky and Karenin, are admirable. And even if the screen play by director Bernard Rose is a little too literary, the complete story was told, and the result was the best Anna Karenina the screen has offered.
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9/10
This is one of my favorites
dixxiedarlin91112 August 2005
I disagree that this was terrible. I am a big time historical movie and costume buff, so I watch everything I can get my hands on and there is hardly a period drama I have not seen. I have also read the book. While the story line of the movie doesn't necessarily follow the novel, I am still sucked into it every time I see it. I found their chemistry wonderful, the costumes lovely and very period accurate, the music and cinematography fabulous. I have seen it over a dozen times (bought the DVD) and STILL never get bored. Sophia Marceau was a perfect choice in my opinion. She is classically beautiful, and the right combination of all the elements that made her character.....chaste wife turned star crossed lover, strong, confidant woman melted to vulnerable young girl. I adored Sean Bean also. I found him totally believable, and I fail to understand how anyone even remotely interested in period dramas could fail to appreciate this film.
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Imperfect, but beautiful nonetheless
angel-1312 September 2000
Now, perhaps I'm out of my element writing a review for "Anna Karenina" without having read the book, but I shall do so regardless. Many criticised this film because it did not follow the book, or omitted one thing or another. That is all well and good, but what feature-length film *can* capture the entire scope of a novel the size of "Anna Karenina"? I watched the older version with Greta Garbo and--though I cannot imagine why--it never truly caught my attention. This version, however, captured me from the start. And I am usually the first one to complain about what is wrong with a remake in comparison to the old version. A paradox, indeed.

This film first caught my eye because of Sophie Marceau. I admire her immensely as an actress, having seen her in several films, both French and English. Then, I recognised Bernard Rose as the director of "Immortal Beloved", a film I had enjoyed some months before, mostly due to a magnificent performance by Gary Oldman, some of the most glorious music caught on film.

The music, I can probably cite as one of the main reasons I loved this film. I can think of no better love theme for a doomed romance like that of Anna and Vronsky, than the first movement of Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony. The use of "Swan Lake" at various points was also wonderful, and the interplay during the scene at the ballet held me mesmerised. Vronsky speaks of Anna being trapped in her marriage as the Prince seeks to capture the Swan Queen. Perhaps I'm just rambling, but somehow that connected.

On the whole, the performances were good. Sophie Marceau was perfectly believable as Anna, and some of her scenes sent chills down my spine, though my favourite performance of hers still has to be "Firelight". Sean Bean had me worried for a few seconds, with a mannered reading or two, but improved quickly as the film progressed. Another reviewer pointed out that Vronsky was meant to be a shallower character than Anna, and now that I think back on it, I believe that is very true, and that Sean Bean's performance reflected this superficiality. Mia Kirshner was adequate--I didn't particularly care for her--but Alfred Molina and James Fox both gave fine performances (a standout for me was when Anna wrote Karenin from Italy and Karenin wavered before refusing to let her see Sergei).

However, equally on par with the actors, was the setting. Very few films, I have to admit, can look *so* beautiful. Especially the ballroom scene, with the seemingly neverending hallway of gilded doors, the location photography was spectacular. The costumes were stunning, and the cinematography made even snow seem alive. Even if you do not care for the story or the acting, this is a film to watch for visuals.

Thus, I believe that this film deserves far more credit than it received. I, personally, loved it for varied reasons, but I have to admit that what truly captured me was the way Bernard Rose can take an average script and transform it into a beautiful film using visuals and music. Very few directors take the time to put music and image together if they use classical scores (my favourites would be David Lean and John Boorman), and I believe Bernard Rose should be watched in the future. I should love to see what he would do with a film set in late 19th century Italy, when opera was at its height!

***1/2 out of ****
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Why did it not win anything?
hernan_amado6 December 2001
Warning: Spoilers
When I saw this movie I thought it won many awards, but when I found out that it didn't. I was thoroughly disappointed. How come it didn't? It has amazing cinematography, costumes, performances, etc. I do not understand why it was quite under-rated. It should have won at least an award for best costume design. Sophie Marceau was stunning, She was plausible as Anna Karenina, she really did her best as a woman who gave up everything to be with her frustrated love Vronsky (Sean Bean). Sean Bean envelops himself into the role very well. The costumes were flashy as well as the scenery. It was wonderful since I could really see all seasons in Russia like spring, Fall, Summer, especially winter. It was amazing to see the credible snow and cold wind. It really deserved some awards, but anyway What can I do? The best part of this movie was its tragic ending as Anna Karenina commits suicide by falling onto the train tracks. It certainly made me think. It's worth watching. Don't miss it. 8/10
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7/10
Eye candy which barely misses the mark!
kriddd7 February 2006
I'm not sure how this movie slipped past me, as I try to stay on top of the period movies that come out. Nonetheless I caught it on one of the Encore channels last night, and I'm glad I did. Visually this movie is incredible! The cinematography could not have been much better, down to small details such as Levin "mowing" in the fields with the scythe in perfect rhythm with the workers.

As much as I like the film, however, I'm disappointed that Sophie Marceau's portrayal of Anna was not more passionate. On the whole I thought her performance was pretty good, but I agree with the comments above that she could have exhibited a much more involved and emotional presence in the face of a love that she could not resist. Ditto for Sean Bean, although he was somewhat better at it than Sophie. It's a situation where one fervently wishes that the actors were better than they were, because you know that it would have made the movie a "10." Both Bean and Marceau did provide some excellent glimpses into the souls of their characters, but only glimpses. One would wish for more intimate looks into their motivations and their respective desolations. I was not at all put off by accents of the actors. So Marceau has a mild French accent...French was the dominant language of the Russian court up to the Revolution, so it would not have been out of place at all.

The story of Levin and Kitty fares better, if only because of the stellar performance of Alfred Molina. Offhand I can't think of a more underrated actor (save perhaps Ron Perlman). Ms. Kirshner was fine as Kitty, although her journey from infatuation with Vronsky to love for Levin was given short shrift.

Overall I loved this movie, but I just wish it had been two marks better.
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Very disappointing!
Ilsy18 December 1999
Warning: Spoilers
First of all: It's a great story. Incredible, how the author Leo Tolstoi describes the feelings of a woman who gave up everything (marriage, child, social reputation) for her love and commits suicide when she thinks that she will lose this love too. But the film is horrible. Yes, the pictures are good, but first of all the choice of Sophie Marceau was a terrible mistake. In the book Anna is, before she meets her later lover Wronski, a well situated lady with no personal conflicts in her life. She is self-confident, and other women come to her to get good advices for their problems with the husband, the children and so on. And then Anna meets Wronski, and her life shatters like glass. They fall in love madly, but this love is for both the worst thing that ever happens to their lives. It ruins both of them. Sophie Marceau isn't able to play this self-confident, cool woman. From the beginning she seems to be a nervous teenager, and so the drama of the story can't be developed.

There is also no passion between her and Sean Bean. I only felt very, very bored. It's a pity, that this great story was ruined, because when I heard that there would be a remake of Anna Karenina, I was very curious, because the book is one of my favourites. Unfortunately I have to say: Go and read the book! It's much better!
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7/10
Lovely.... absolutely lovely.
Nessa30 April 2006
This was surprisingly good. I'm not that much a fan of the Romance genre, if truth be told, but I'll make an exception for this one. The film is carefully crafted. Every emotion, every dialogue enhanced the overall tone of the film, slowly but surely escalating in its momentum up to its tragic climax.

Sophie Marceau was brilliant. As was Sean Bean. I wasn't quite sure if they would be able to possess the kind of chemistry needed to pull this off, if truth be told, considering how they (in my opinion) seem to be of different temperament artistically (Sophie being more sensitive as seen in Braveheart and Marquis, while Bean is more explosive). Nevertheless, it worked out fine although, ironically, their relationship seem to be more believable whenever they fell out of odds with each other. :)
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10/10
Oh yes!
Blitzie2 February 1999
I have to say, I was dragged to see this one by my girlfriend and to say I was sceptical about it's likely entertainment value would be a considerable understatement. Unfortunately for my pride, this film completely blew me away.

I won't dwell on the story, as it is apparently very well known (except to heathens such as myself), but I do know that it did capute love and denial and sadness in a way I've never seen before.

The cinematography is also fantastic. Watch out especially for the dancing scenes in the ballroom and the horse racing.

If all period costume movies were like this, then I'd abandon Sci-Fi altogether!
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5/10
Half the material
ferdinand19325 July 2011
While the production design, photography costumes etc are all quite spectacular this is only half the book. That it is not really the book which may seem a normal quibble, but all the other details which are so rich in the original, is lost here and what is left is a melodrama.

One reason is that the length of a great novel cannot ever be crammed into a film of normal endurance. The problem then becomes one of audience engagement and also character motivation because the characters are so attenuated in the film. The rich back histories and the social settings and discussion of current ideas is also fundamental to a Tolstoy novel and here it is only hinted at in parts.

Some level of implication is good in a film, unlike a novel, but in this case it is reduces a novel to a text message.

The result is not a bad film, but is unfortunately superficial. The task the filmmakers set is enormous - too big for what is accomplished. It's solution is not in this medium and at this length: a multi-part TV series would be have been better.
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4/10
Somewhere inside this lukewarm movie, there's a very good movie struggling to get out.
Mary Kae7 March 2005
"Anna Karenina" isn't quite a terrible movie. The scenery is pretty; the score, courtesy of Tchaikovsky, is great; and the attempt to balance the two types of relationships is a noble one. Unfortunately, "Anna Karenina" is a severely hobbled movie.

The biggest problem, it pains me to say, is the miscasting of Sophie Marceau in the central role. She is never passionate enough to make us understand why she gives up everything for Vronsky (Sean Bean). Even during some of the more passionate scenes, she is still too composed and collected (Bean suffers from a similar problem, although not as severely as Marceau). Moreover, her French accent is seriously distracting. I admire anybody who can speak multiple languages, but it's all wrong for this movie. The wildly different accents destroy the rhythm of Anna and Vronksy's conversations, and it sometimes feels as though they're not even in the same scene. This, in turn, disastrously torpedoes their chemistry -- a fatal flaw when your entire movie is based on a hot, illicit love affair.

Ironically, both Bean and Marceau have their best moments after the affair goes sour. Vronsky's impatience is the first time we see true sparks from the character; Anna's hallucinations, and the separation from her living son, are genuinely disturbing.

The filmmakers try to juxtapose Anna and Vronsky's whirlwind affair with the slow-but-steady love that develops between rich Levin (Alfred Molina) and Princess Kitty (Mia Kirshner). Although the effort is noble, it has the same effect as the smorgasbord of accents, that of entirely destroying the movie's pace. It feels rushed and superficial in some places, but ploddingly slow in others.

Taken on its own, however, Levin's story is far more compelling than the main plot's lukewarm attempts at passion. Wringing every last drop of psychological depth out of the script, Molina gives a wonderful glimpse into the character's loneliness, melancholy, and eventual peace -- you almost found yourself wishing the movie were just about this guy. As his love interest, Mia Kirschner is a total lightweight and her Canadian accent is as jarring as Marceau's French one; fortunately, Molina has enough gravitas for both of them. If the script had been better, he would have brought the entire movie into warm focus.

As it is, the movie feels disjointed and rambling. Had it been better organized -- and perhaps differently cast -- we might have seen an interesting meditation on the various kinds of love. As it is, we see only a few bright spots amid a sea of disappointment.
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10/10
In regards to Anna Karenina
nikolaikim30 March 2000
The novel Anna Karenina by the genius Leo Tolstoy's a superlative example of what makes literature so wondrous. The movie for the most accurately gauges the majesty of his novel. Overall the movie's a fantastic adaptation with Sean Bean whose performance's always excellent. Sophie Marceau looked beautiful and played the role of Anna superbly. Some scenes were omitted or altered but overall, a fantastic book to movie adaptation.
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Visually stunning, but truncated...
mirky21 October 2003
Which is entirely to be expected with a novel the size and complexity, I'm told, of Leo Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina", which I have not read.

I will blushingly admit that I first viewed this film mostly because of Sean Bean's presence. I found him a superb actor in the Lord of the Rings, and hoped to find more in his other works.

Truthfully, his portrayal of Vronsky feels somewhat light in this film; I attribute this to three factors: the severe compression of the novel (as happens with all film adaptations), the actual nature of the character itself, and the slightly boring task of playing mostly passion. Unlike other viewers, I found it very difficult to sympathize with Vronsky, and his repentance hollow. My heart melted somewhat, though, during his flashback to Karenina's corpse at the railway, and his brimming eyes as the train pulled away. Redeemed slightly at the very last moment.

Sophie Marceau is stunning as Anna Karenina; I found her enchanting from the start. Marceau plays the title lady with dignity, elegance, and grace; in her more intimate and emotional moments, she portrays Karenina's motherly and passionate sides with skill.

The inevitable flaws of adaptation show through in this film; there are numerous location changes, and multiple "quick" passages of time. Every event feels strung together by a thread, which they likely are, chosen for their narrative value. Yet it doesn't work, as the overall result lacks a palatable sense of cohesion. The love story of Karenina and Vronsky feels chopped and rushed, as does the tale of Levin and his Kitty -- which is too bad, since they are both the anchor narratives. The contrast of the two, however, plays well, and reminds me of the romances in Michael Ondaatje's "English Patient" (I'm well aware Tolstory precedes Ondaatje).

The greatest features of "Anna Karenina" lie in the atmosphere. Despite the out-of-place original accents of the actors, Russian is spoken skilfully, and the chosen music is beautiful and appropriately evocative of an older, grander time. and the lovely landscapes of Russia play a beautiful role in the background. The costumes and sets are breathtaking; the highlight is surely the ballroom scene, when all are attired for an evening "out" and Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake Waltz is playing.

While an excellent effort, "Anna Karenina" eventually feels like what it is: a cinematic adaptation of a novel.

I'd give it a 8 out of 10.
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5/10
Disappointing "Cliffs Notes" version of novel
Sean Gallagher15 February 1999
Bernard Rose showed with IMMORTAL BELOVED that he's a good director, but this and CANDYMAN show he's flawed at writing. This is deservedly known as one of the great novels of our time, but you wouldn't know it from this movie. Admittedly, it looks breathtaking, and the performers all look their parts quite well. The main problems are when the actors speak, and the way Rose makes this a "Cliffs Notes" version of the novel. We only hit the high spots, and there's no emotional connection to the story at all, plus we miss the humanity of Tolstoy's view towards his characters.

Sophie Marceau may be good in French films, but I wasn't impressed with her in BRAVEHEART, and I'm not impressed with her here; her reading of Anna is too shallow. Sean Bean, for some reason, plays Vronsky like he was playing 006 in GOLDENEYE, and while Mia Kirschner (an excellent actress), as Kitty, tries, she's too modern. James Fox is Karenin, and this is a role he's done so many times he can do it in his sleep, which he does. Alfred Molina is another actor I'm not a big fan of, but as Levin, he gives the only believable performance.
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7/10
not too bad
sammy30 November 2004
I will hereby join the legions of ladies (and perhaps some gents too?) that sat down to watch this version of Anna Karenina simply because of the presence of Sean Bean.

I have to say, I was not disappointed, though in this version Vronsky's screen-time is drastically reduced. I was very impressed with Alfred Molina and James Fox, both played their parts with conviction and in my opinion stayed true to the characters from the book. I wish I could say the same for Sophie Marceau, but unfortunately I found her rather shallow and annoying. Perhaps it was just because her accent was so out of place, but whatever the reason, I found her portrayal of Anna unrealistic and unsympathetic.

The best Anna Karenina that I have come across so far, is easily Vivian Leigh in the 1948 version, which to date I believe to be the best one yet. If you are looking for only one version of this movie to watch, I recommend that one, although it is of course sadly lacking the dashing Mr. Bean :-)
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10/10
a beautiful moving masterpiece
katryona374 November 2000
I first saw anna towards the end when i was home from school sick. I could not take my eyes off the television and was spellbound. i did not even know what the movie was called and I caught only the last half hour but I went out the next day and rented it and ended up with a 7 day late charge. It was so deeply moving and beautiful. I was mesmerized. The only flaw in this film was the weak link named mia kirschner, but it can be forgiven because marceau and beans performances were absolutely stunning. I have cried my heart dry watching this film every time and i watch it once a week at least. Bean is brilliant throughout but he is incredible at the end talking to tolstoy in the train about going off to die. he is so restrained and holding pain within and trying to hold up some sort of front that is strong and it is made so clear to the audience exactly what he is going through. both actors go through great transformations from beginning to end. the dazzling socialite and the handsome virile soldier who become shells of those former selves drowning into madness and grief. Perhaps the two most poignant parts for me are the scene of anna playing with the doll and the smile on her face just as she falls onto the train tracks. Sorrowfully beautiful,utterly romantic, and tragic. One of my all time favorite movies.
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5/10
Visually and audibly stunning, but overall one of the weaker adaptations
TheLittleSongbird29 July 2015
Along with War and Peace, Anna Karenina is one of the greatest Russian novels and one of the greats of 19th century literature, the story is heart-breaking and intense and the characters compelling. Anna Karenina has often been filmed, and of the film versions the 1967 Russian and 1935 Greta Garbo films fare the best and the 2012 Joe Wright-directed version the weakest. This 1997 adaptation from Bernard Rose (Paperhouse, Immortal Beloved, Candyman) has a good amount to like but is one of the weaker adaptations.

Visually, the film looks absolutely stunning and along with the 1967 Russian film it is one of the most evocative adaptations period detail-wise. Although some of the editing is choppy, the cinematography is ravishing and the costumes and sets are some of the most beautiful and evocative of any adaptation of Anna Karenina, especially in the opulent ballroom scene and the gorgeous wintry landscapes. The Tchaikovsky-laden music score makes for an aural feast and couldn't have fitted more perfectly.

Three performances are good. Coming off best is Alfred Molina, who brings authority and many layers to Levin, wish more was done with developing the character more in terms of writing but at least the film included the character and his subplot with Kitty. James Fox is a ruthlessly cold and haunting Karenin, the character played consistently well in all the Anna Karenina adaptations even in the not-so-good ones. Sean Bean is a handsome Vronsky, but brings a steely intensity to the role that stops the character from being wooden or tragic, rightfully avoiding the dashing heroic figure stereotype.

Sophie Marceau however I found miscast as Anna, she looks splendid but is pretty vacuous and lacking in passion. Her chemistry with Bean convinces in the latter and more turbulent parts of the relationship but dull in the early parts. Mia Kirschner is also rather too modern and lightweight for Kitty. This version of Anna Karenina is a visual and aural stunner with a few impressive performances, but is one of the least successful and interesting versions in terms of script and how the story is told.

The dialogue doesn't always flow naturally, and feels very dry in tone and with little depth and substance, and the narration was rather unnecessary. Rose's direction shows terrific technical assurance but lacks the same kind of momentum in telling the story. It's the story where the film most falls down, feeling far too short and far too rushed, with about half of the story (or so it feels) being told but all in Cliff Notes version, and it even feels like more of the film was filmed but cut due to studio interference. Neither of the romances are dealt with well, Anna and Vronsky's is too rushed and the very incomplete-feeling one between Levin and Kitty sometimes really slows down the film.

Overall, not a bad version but a less than ideal one, as an adaptation and as a film on its own. 5/10 Bethany Cox
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RE: Anna Karenina
LorDom26 February 2003
To be honest, I have not read this book. I have heard that it was a classic and all those other things that people say about his book, but really had no idea what the story is about. Actually, the main reason that I watched this movie, was that Sean Bean was in it(I had previously seen him in Lord of the Rings, and really enjoyed him). I was surprised to find this story so engaging. I thought that he was amazing in this movie, very charming. He just has this intangible quality that always has me rooting for him.

This is the first movie that I have ever seen Sophie Marceau in(playing Anna Karenina) and I found that she portrays Anna with a delicate grace, that makes you understand Vronsky's(Bean) dogged pursuit of her.

True, I have to say that I found the end a little disappointing, and heart-wrenching. Sean Bean shines at the end of the movie, I think he really shows well just how much Vronsky finally realizes he has lost.
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8/10
The best version of Anna Karenina I've seen
beth_erickson30 March 2003
Finally, a version of Anna Karenina that doesn't skip over Levin and Kitty's story. Although it seems impossible to put this whole novel into movie length, this is the closest I've seen a movie come. I've seen a few versions of this, and I even thought this was better than the Garbo one. The visuals are amazing, and once in a while, people actually speak Russian! This is the greatest novel ever written, so no film could ever do it justice, but this one came pretty close.
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Visually gorgeous, sympahetic characters and lovely music. Liked it better than the book..
howardr3 January 2003
Visually, this film is gorgeous. Sophie Marceau is perfect as Anna and Alfred Molina also shines. Sean Bean, known for finding the humanity in the worst of characters, is the most likeable, sympathetic and attractive Vronsky I have seen. He does not portray the transformation of the selfish, spoilt, wealthy and aristocratic mother's darling into a deeply remorseful, more mature individual who learns that there is a price to pay for taking whatever you want and you had better consider the price worth it. A pity as the contrasting story of Levin (Alfred Molina) and his unselfish devotion to Princess Kitty requires that the point be made. You reap what you sow. Similarly, James Fox is too tolerant and long-suffering as Karenin. Tostoy's Karenin is a self-important bureaucrat who disguises his revenge on Anna as piety. HOWEVER...maybe not be accurate Tolstoy but the sheer niceness of all the characters makes one care far more when tragedy strikes than I ever did when I read the book. Gorgeous music also.
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10/10
It would be perfect if...
sp_rose200510 September 2009
I do not agree with the earlier reviews that Vivian Leigh played Anna better than Sophy Marceau. It is just that the 1948 version was by itself a better film. The weakness of the 1997 version is that it the scenes are too short and scattered together, and this makes it difficult to express the emotions of the characters and the overall idea behind Tolstoy's novel. But this is the weakness of the movie makers, not the actors. In the 1948 version, the scenes are very detailed and the conversations are long enough to express the idea of each scene. 1948 version is good, but not the best. I don't know if anyone has seen the British miniseries of 2000-2001, but if you want to understand the idea of the book, you should watch it. The cast is not the best, Anna looks old and not suited for this role although she acts perfectly, Vronsky cannot even be compared with Sean Bean, but it's very detailed and just gets deep down to the main core of the novel. It also covers Levin perfectly. The 1997 version pays significant attention to Levin's character as well, but again, because the scenes are too confusing, it will be difficult for those who haven't read the book to understand the true meaning of it. So if the makers of the 1997 version spent a little more time on each scene and included the small details (they make a huge difference), this movie would be absolutely perfect. Other than that, this version is just beautiful with its costumes, music, settings, and cast. It pictures 19th century Russia perfectly unlike any other version before or after it (including the 2000 version).
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A wonderful 2 hours!
Kiran-313 April 1999
I saw this movie almost accidentally and I LOVED it! It made me a fan of Sophie Marceau, a beautiful and talented French actress. To my delight Sophie is starring in some upcoming movies (which I will not miss). I would recommend this movie to anyone looking for a movie with all the components that makes a classic. Too bad it didn't hit the mainstream, it was very under-rated. Bottom line: I loved this movie, and I am usually quite picky about which movies I say that about!
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9/10
Captivating!
msparker627 January 2002
This is an excellent rendition of a very complex book. Beautifully shot & exquisitely acted, the spirit of the book for once remains in tact when making the transition to film. Had this film been made in Hollywood, I've no doubt that Anna would have lived & Vronsky would have married her right before they rode off into the sunset together. As it is, the story is well written. I especially love Alfred Molina in the role of Levin, the protagonist, but the entire cast is just wonderful. This is a film I watch over & over, mesmerized by the story and the artistry of the film itself.
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3/10
Audacity
nemo_cinema18 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
It's time directors should refrain from distorting the language of literature (not just some best selling silly fiction). With expensive sets, historic backdrop, all kinds of grandeur and glamorous actresses they simply forget what the main story is all about. And things go absolutely disastrous when do the same kind of treatment to Tolstoy (one of the greatest authors the world of literature has ever seen).

This is absolute audacity. Anna Karenina is not just a story of a naive infidel wife. And when there is an attempt to fit in just a few snapshots within those few hours all you get is a bogus piece of movie like this. It's meaningless to talk about how the movie did not match up to the novel. Watching this movie is just another (silly) experience of costumes and glamorous sets; like watching a fashion show and nothing else.
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6/10
A poor telling of an oft told tale.
George Parker22 April 2001
"Anna Karenina", (circa 1997) is a lavish abbreviated retelling of the Tolstoy classic which tries to do too much with too little time. The capable cast seems to have mostly British accents (except for Marceau's rather obvious French undertone) which seem out of place in a film shot and set in Russia. This leap-frogging flick does resound with the import of one maxim: If you can't do it right, don't do it at all.
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