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Anna Karenina (1985)

Tragic Anna leaves her cold husband for dashing Count Vronsky in 19th-century Russia.


Simon Langton


James Goldman, Leo Tolstoy (novel)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jacqueline Bisset ... Anna Karenina
Christopher Reeve ... Count Vronsky
Paul Scofield ... Karenin
Ian Ogilvy ... Stiva
Anna Massey ... Betsy
Joanna David ... Dolly
Judi Bowker ... Kitty
Valerie Lush Valerie Lush ... Annushka
Judy Campbell ... Countess Vronsky
Paul Geoffrey ... Petritsky
Neil Amswych Neil Amswych ... Seryozha
Nicholas Selby Nicholas Selby ... Doctor
Philip Bowen Philip Bowen ... Mikhail
Oscar Quitak Oscar Quitak ... Volodya
Ralph Nossek Ralph Nossek ... Grisha


A brief meeting at the Moscow train station and the dashing officer in the Russian Army is captivated by the beautiful woman who has been his mother's companion on the trip from St. Petersburg. Back in St. Petersburg, they seem to be on the same social circuit. People are talking even before there is anything to talk about. When Vronsky falls from his horse one afternoon and Anna Karenina and her husband are among the spectators, she rushes to Vronsky's side. What will happen now that their secret love is no secret any more? Written by Dale O'Connor <daleoc@interaccess.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


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Release Date:

26 March 1985 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ana Karenina See more »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Christopher Reeve, in his autobiography "Still Me", claimed that in this movie he learned how to ride a horse and fell in love with them, which eventually led him to his tragic accident falling from a horse in 1995. See more »


Version of Anna Karenina (1971) See more »

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User Reviews

Not my favourite Anna Karenina
28 July 2015 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Of the numerous versions of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, my personal favourite will always be Greta Garbo's (even if it has a couple of shortcomings, namely Fredric March's Vronsky), with Vivien Leigh's also being very good, and the Joe Wright-directed version faring weakest despite the excellent production values and Karenin. This Anna Karenina has a good amount to like, while also falling short, one of the weaker adaptations while hardly disgracing itself.

The story is given very lavish treatment here, with very elegant photography for a made for TV film, lavish sets and splendidly colourful costumes. It's nicely directed, the dialogue flows well and is intelligent and poignant and of the key scenes the colourful ballroom scene stands out and while the suicide scene is not as heart-rending as in Garbo's version it still brings a lump to the throat. The cast are impressive, and the performances equally so. Ian Ogilvy, Anna Massey and Joanna David are dependable in roles well-suited to them and their talents, their roles are not huge due to compressions but they are still believably solid. Of the three leads, Paul Scofield is particularly good as a particularly reptilian Karenin (a character played consistently well in all four versions personally seen), while Jacqueline Bisset's interpretation of Anna is very heartfelt and dashing Christopher Reeve gives one of the better performances of Vronsky on film (a character very problematically cast and performed in the other three versions, especially in the Joe Wright film). Reeve and Bisset's chemistry does convince, there is a sense that these two characters would give up everything for one another which makes the events in the latter half even more devastating.

However, Anna Karenina (1985) does feel too short, two and a half hours seems a long time but with such a big story and this much abridged it did seem the case here, and also too rushed. The story has many moments where it's passionate and moving, but it would have made more of an impact if the pace had slowed down (personally wanted more time to breathe and take in the atmosphere more) and the length was longer. The omissions (including major characters that are at best mentioned once or twice) and that it's very condensed gives a slightly bland and skimmed over, on-the-surface feel, the most significant details are here, the spirit and the full emotional punch isn't quite so much. Also the music score is rather routine and pedestrian, not necessarily distracting but at the same time there's nothing here that's special or memorable.

All in all, a decent adaptation with a lot of good merits but it's not my favourite adaptation of Anna Karenina. 6/10 Bethany Cox

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