1904. The Russian-Japanese War. Manchuria. Russian military hospital on the retreat stations in a half-destroyed Chinese village. The head of the hospital Sergey Karenin learns that the wounded officer Count Vronsky is the person who ruined his mother Anna Karenina. Harboring no illusions and expecting no answers, Karenin comes to Vronsky and asks him the question which has been tormenting him all his life: what made his mother cross the line? After some hesitation Vronsky agrees to tell the story of his tragic love for Anna Karenina, observing that people remember only what they choose to remember. Immersed in the past, Vronsky begins to reassess the story of thirty years ago and finally comes to realize that for many years he has been in the grip of the bygone events.
Flawlessly produced and meticulously authentic, this production deserves more enthusiasm than it has evidently created. This version is worth checking out not merely because of the breathtaking visuals, authentic costumes and perfectly re-created historical ballroom dances (with actual orchestras playing live music on the set), but also for the compelling character development. The original miniseries takes six hours, but finally we get a compelling glimpse of what might have been going on in the mind and soul of a tormented and spirited woman in a rigid society. The beautiful Elizaveta Boyarskaya creates a high-strung, intense Anna, whose love develops into obsession and spirals down a maelstrom of unstoppable self-destruction. She gives us a mentally unstable, bipolar heroine who is as irritating as she is lovable. Her high octane performance is well balanced by the stoic but eventually deep and touching performances by the handsome Maksim Matveev (Vronski), Boyarskaya's real life husband, and the spooky Vitaliy Kishchenko (Karenin), both unable to provide her with what she needs and yet unable to let her go. The story is presented as a series of flashbacks, told thirty years later by the aged Vronski to Anna's son - not necessarily a very important narrative device, but - why not. One should definitely give this atmospheric version a chance.
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