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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

As Close to Perfect as We'll Get

9/10
Author: konky2000 from Oakland, CA
31 January 2004

This is quite an accurate adaptation of Tolstoy's 800+ page novel. While there were obviously many changes and omissions, overall, the whole film rang true to the spirit of the book, and I found it very a very satisfying viewing experience.

While most people are aware of the love triangle plotline featuring Anna Karenina herself, the book's main focus is on the life of Konstantin Levin, and what I think this film does so well is to provide more focus on that character and his relationship with Kitty than previous adaptations have done.

In addition, Anna's estranged husband, Alexei Karenin, is usually portrayed as a totally evil villain. His portrayal in this version of the story, though is done perfectly. While we may not appreciate his choices, we are also allowed to see his character in a multidimensional light, which helps make the story more complex and less of a simplistic soap opera.

While the sets and costumes all felt very authentic, I think that what was mostly missing from this were large scale sets to help us see the grand setting of Russia. We needed to see pictures of trains steaming across Russian countryside, we needed to see the inside of an Opera house or two, and we needed to see Levin struggling in the open farming countryside. Instead almost every scene is an interior shot, or a small scale street scene. It is a minor quibble, but without these scenes, I was left feeling that as good as it was, this film adaptation didn't reach perfection liked I hoped it would.

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10 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Made me actually read the whole novel

7/10
Author: (lisarull@yahoo.com) from Nottingham, England
2 August 2001

For years I put off ploughing through AK - for the same reason I have always avoided so many Russian novels. You know the syndrome; you get so far and then all the 'ovsky's begin to blur, you lose track of which character is which and you give up by Chapter Two or Three at best in defeat at keeping up with all the names. Or, like the Woody Allen joke, you speed read it. "War and Peace? It's about Russia"

Well, inspired by the performances by so many cracking actors I plunged into the full novel. And what a delight. The drama is so good that it makes even the more melancholic passages come to life. With Stephen Dillane AND Douglas Henshall to delight in here, the show was on my watch list anyway. Some wonderful performances can be found in this version which is certainly one of the best transferences to screen of a complex novel (for one thing it doesn't shirk from giving equal weight to the story of Levin and Kitty - which in the novel are just as central, if not more so in the case of Levin, musing on the issue of religion).

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A Taut Adaptation of a Daunting, Sprawling novel

8/10
Author: heather_m1986 from Ottawa
15 August 2006

This Masterpiece Theatre production gives life to Tolstoy vast and ambitious masterpiece. It's a formidable task considering that Tolstoy was often a deeply psychological writer and spent hours probing the souls of his characters. That being said, the cast in this adaptation do a marvelous job in conveying their character's profound and often misguided humanity.

Tolstoy co-protagonists, Anna Karenina and Constantine Levin are both idealists searching for love and meaning. Helen McCrory is not an obvious choice for Anna but the character has suffered from being played by picture perfect actresses who have trouble conveying Anna's passion. Helen McCrory's is believable as a mature woman who is seemingly very comfortable in her skin and has the grace and power to make men fall easily in love with her.

Douglas Hensall plays Levin with gentleness as a sensitive, conflicted man plagued by doubt and his own inadequacies.He romance with Kitty is sweet and understated. His Scottish accent, beard, and awkward manners lend to his rusticism. However, as with any adaptation of Anna Karenina, much of Levin struggles with his own conflicted personal morality and faith are left out.

The best performance comes from Stephen Dillane as Anna's dour, principled husband. A man who believes in keeping his emotions in check, Dillane's Karenin is a man who's suffering his wife's betrayal and is conflicted between the desire to punish her and his love for her. In the novel Karenin is a homely man in his fifties, but here he is far handsomer and about 10 years younger which is helpful because it prevents viewers from believing that Anna deserts old, ugly husband simply because he is old and ugly.

Also of note is Mark Strong as Anna's bon vivant brother, Stiva, who, as in the book, remains likable despite being irresponsible and faithless to his wife, Dolly. Paloma Baeza, Amanda Root and Kevin McKidd also turn in fine performances and Levin's sweetheart, Dolly and Anna's lover, respectively.

The film's use hand-held cameras, quick cuts, and odd angles were at times interesting and at times, very distracting. Admittedly,it was nice to see a period film not shot in the very staid and static fashion of most period films. This production is full of movement: train chug by, people run upstairs, skirts billow, couples argue violently.

It has been said that readers should take Anna Karenina as a "piece of life" and this adaptation has an accessibility and realism and lacks that daunting glossy "period film" sheen. These people are people who could live in our time or any time

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

An excellent production which tells the tale of three couples.

Author: Dianne Martin (dianne.martin) from London, England
4 August 2000

This new adaption of Anna Karenina was first shown on British TV in May 2000 as a four week mini series.Since the production is over four hours long,it is able to explore the main characters in detail.It doesn't just concentrate on Anna's(Helen McCrory)relationships with Karenin(Stephen Dillane) and Vronsky(Kevin McKidd),but also the relationships between Levin and Kitty and Oblonsky and Dolly. The film opens and closes with the character of Levin.Douglas Henshall is well cast as the idealistic Levin,haunted by his past.Paloma Baeza plays his wife Kitty as a pure and innocent girl who is also very kind and wise. Mark Strong is very convincing as the philandering Oblonsky and Stephen Dillane excellent as the faithful and dignified Karenin. The series was criticized in the UK for it's explicit love scenes.Personally I don't think they were that explicit.Also these scenes were necessary to tell the story in the twenty-first century. My only criticism would be that although Helen McCrory and Kevin McKidd's performances were very good,their characters seemed to lack chemistry. Overall this is an excellent production,which is well worth seeing.

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10 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

A disappointment

Author: Michel Anctil from Montreal, Canada
25 September 2000

Anna Karenina is one of the great novels of the nineteenth century that has inspired a great many adaptations for cinema or television. This most recent TV version (aired now in North America) is one too many. It is appallingly rudderless, maybe because it is increasingly more difficult to see a point in adding to the already high stack of versions. The acting lacks zest for the most part, the length or the treatment of this version does not do justice to the richness of the novel, and the sex scenes are so disingenuously artsy as to be laughable. More critically, the key characters of Anna and Vronsky are played by actors lacking both presence and chemistry. In my opinion, this version fares very poorly compared with the other TV miniseries, that of 1977 starring Nicola Pagett (Anna), Eric Porter (Karenin) and Stuart Wilson (Vronsky).

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Pinpoints The Plot In Great Detail, But With Somewhat Charmless Leads

8/10
Author: museumofdave from Corning, California
9 April 2013

If you're craving an adaptation of Tolstoy's psychological and social masterpiece, this version comes the closest to an overall assessment, simply because it has the time to cover the all-important story of the earthy Levin and his beloved Kitty; as in the book, Anna takes the focus purely because she is the embodiment of a scandal, living totally for her feelings, and living selfishly.

Having just finished the book, and then watched four different versions of the Russian epic, I do not doubt this version comes closest to the spirit of the book, even though Helen McCrory as Anna completely lacks the mesmerizing attraction of say, Garbo or Leigh--but both their films are Masterplot editions, and studio bound, although each have their own strengths--the MGM team to recreate lavish set pieces, and in the latter case, Vivien Leigh sparring with Sir Ralph Richardson, as a mannered, pompous, easily rattled husband.

In this 2000 Masterpiece Theatre version, David Henshall is a standout as Levin, drawing the viewer into the intensely introverted, thoughtful landowner, Tolstoy's cover for himself. When it comes down to it, the novel cannot be translated to the screen, even less so than War And Peace, but the director of this one did his best, even if his chosen leads are less than stellar.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A very tedious adaptation but for Henshall and Strong

Author: ReluctantFan from Switzerland
18 February 2009

I agree with the previous reviewer in finding that the main characters (Anna and her lover) though played by very good actors lacked both screen presence and chemistry. As a result the series seemed very tedious to watch and the love between them difficult to believe in - which in turn left me indifferent as to their predicament or its outcome. On the other hand, I found that the "Moscow set" stories and actors brought life to the series. In particular, Mark Strong (Oblonsky), Amanda Roots (Dolly), Paloma Baeza (Kitty) and Douglas Henshall (Levin) all gave lively performances. In the case of Henshall and Paloma Baeza the chemistry between the couple made the romance believable and moving. Henshall impersonated Levin's self-doubt and moral guilt particularly well. He made Kitty's delivery scene very memorable. His Scottish accent (which I normally like very much) seemed a bit distracting in this setting - especially in the scenes with his "brother". It reminded me of Billy Boyd in The Lord of the Rings!

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Best adaptation yet

8/10
Author: Vlad B. from United States
2 April 2014

Anna Karenina is my all-time favorite book, and having watched a number of Russian and English-language adaptations, including the 2012 Joe Wright film with Keira Knightly, I consider this 2000 Masterpiece Theater version the most faithful and watchable of them all. While Helen McRory may not be as conventionally pretty as many other actresses who played Anna, her acting is spot on, and she's closer to the character as envisioned and described by Tolstoy. The other characters are cast very well, and few liberties are taken with the plot. Aside from the now-dated 1977 BBC miniseries, this is the version which spends the most time on the Levin-Kitty storyline, as it should be. The main reason I deduct 2 points is that parts of the series inevitably felt like a breeze-through the book's themes - as no adaptation can truly capture the depth of the original novel.

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7 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

The most true version to the book

10/10
Author: sp_rose2005 from United States
11 September 2009

I've seen almost all the versions of Anna Karenina, and I'm trying to compare them with the book. So far, this version is the most true one to Tolsty's novel. It is very detailed which helps to express the true feelings of the characters the way Tolstoy created them. I didn't like the actors much, especially Anna, she's not attractive enough to play Anna. The perfect actors for Anna Karenina are in the 1997 version. Sophie Marceau made an excellent Anna, with her beautiful young flirtatious look, and the confidence with which she carries herself even when she's in despair.Helen McCrory just looks ill all the time, even in the beginning, she just doesn't have that presence that Tolstoy's Anna does. If the actors and settings of this movie were substituted with the ones from 1997 version, this movie would be absolutely perfect! Although it doesn't give the whole picture of 19th century Russia the way Tolstoy pictured it and the way the 1997 version does, this is still the most accurate version, and expresses the true meaning of the novel. Definitely recommended for people who haven't read the book, as well as those who have!

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

See the 1977 version

1/10
Author: passingview from United States
18 February 2014

Sorry, but if you have seen the 1977 version with Nicola Pagett and Stuart Wilson, you have seen the best. It does take a serial installment versus a movie rendering to give this vast story justice. This updated version attempts that, but lacks the authenticity of the superior qualities of casting, direction, acting and storyline found in the 1977 offering. This 2000 version is quite crude by comparison, only surpassing in the more up-to-date production techniques available. Who care about those when dealing with a classic work, and who misses them for the vast difference in foundational qualities. This is the cruder offering in every sense of the word. The leads are weak, ineffectual and even far less attractive. The age factor is disregarded as Anna appears older than either her husband (who is 20 years her senior in the book) and her lover. This project is much weakened by the gratuitous and tasteless animal sexual element ascribed to the principals to the expense of heart connections. Untrue and violating of the classical source material. Disgusting contribution. Even the earlier shallower movie contributions avoided the offenses of this shoddy offering.

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