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Anna Karenina film adaptations worldwide

Anna Karenina film adaptations - Soviet eponymous film of 1967

Soviet eponymous film of 1967, directed by Aleksandr Zarkhi. Tatiana Samoilova in the main role. Anna Karenina film adaptations worldwide

Anna Karenina film adaptations
An image born in the mind of a writer, has become an obsession, inspiration and muse for many film directors. “Anna Karenina” is the most filmed work of Leo Tolstoy’s 1873 masterpiece, and not only in Russia, but also worldwide. Actually, there are about 40 film adaptations of Anna Karenina. Thus, the girl with a complex fate was played by a lot of divas of the European and Hollywood cinema, such as Greta Garbo, Vivien Leigh, Marlene Dietrich, Ingrid Bergman, Sophie Marceau, and Keira Knightley. And each of these actresses managed to perform the famous scene of suicide at the station platform.
However, the best “Anna Karenina” film is still the Soviet version of 1967, directed by Aleksandr Zarkhi. This stunning film made with a great taste, impregnated with high morale, and with the inimitable great Russian actors. And for me, there is only one Vronsky, played by unsurpassed Russian actor Vasily Lanovoi, and there is only one Anna Karenina – played by Tatiana Samoilova.

Tatiana Samoilova as Anna Karenina, in the the Soviet eponymous film of 1967

Tatiana Samoilova as Anna Karenina, in the the Soviet eponymous film of 1967, directed by Alexandr Zarkhi

Vasily Lanovoi as Vronsky and Tatiana Samoilova as Anna Karenina, in the the Soviet eponymous film of 1967

The main characters of the 1967 film Vronsky (Vasily Lanovoi) and Anna Karenina (Tatiana Samoilova), in the the Soviet eponymous film

The first film adaptation appeared in Germany in 1910. And in a year, in 1911, in Russia appeared a silent feature film Anna Karenina by Maurice Matre (Anna – M. Sorokhtina). Unfortunately, the film’s considered lost.

Greta Garbo played Anna Karenina twice – in 1927 film of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, director Edmund Goulding, and in 1935 ‘Anna Karenina’ by Brown.

Anna Karenina film adaptations. Greta Garbo as Anna Karenina, 1935 MGM

Greta Garbo as Anna Karenina. Anna Karenina, 1935 MGM

Maya Plisetskaya in film-ballet Anna-Karenina, 1974

Maya Plisetskaya in film-ballet Anna-Karenina, 1974

Anna Karenina of 1974 – an opportunity to look at the familiar story from the other side and see the main character through the eyes of women. Director Margarita Pilikhina refuses unnecessary words and long conversations, preferring a more frank and honest music and dance. This ballet performance, where many important characters in the book hide behind the scenes, giving the scene to the disposal of the main character. This is a film where everything not related to the triangle Anna-Vronsky-Karenin, remains behind the scenes. Besides, this is a film-ballet, where the expressive language of music and dance with the help of cinematic tricks reveal new facets of love story retold more than once.

Anyway, just in my humble opinion, the worst version of Anna Karenina is 1997 US film directed by Bernard Rose:

Sophie Marceau as Anna Karenina, in the eponymous film of 1997, US, directed by Bernard Rose

Sophie Marceau as Anna Karenina, in the eponymous film of 1997, US, directed by Bernard Rose

About the casting of actors better to say nothing. And why this film can be called the adaptation, if its creators did not even make sure to pick up the actors similar to their characters? For example, Vronsky – a 40-year-old tall blond without mustache, instead of being a 25-year-old young man, dark-haired, with a mustache. And Sophie Marceau as Karenina does not look like a mature 30-year-old woman, but a 18-year-old girl with unsettled life principles. And again, disgust squalid sex scenes, not even mentioned in the book.

Sophie Marceau as Anna Karenina, in the eponymous film of 1997, US, directed by Bernard Rose

In the main role Sophie Marceau, in the eponymous film of 1997, US, directed by Bernard Rose

And how perversely the American filmmaker exposes Russian people in his adaptation! It turns out that the Russians are immoral, unprincipled, and of course, alcoholics without tact and honor. All characters are constantly drunk, no matter – a woman, or a man. If I were American and had not read the novel, I would be horrified by those Russians. Is this what the great Russian classic wrote about? In short, each frame is just an insult.

Farce and screaming artificiality of happening is permanent, and even in the prologue. And, as a result, the viewer, like me, leaves disappointed. The creators decided not to make a film in a classical manner, and, according to them, were original, having created extravagant costume musical-like film. But in fact, it looks as a parody.

2008 movie directed by Sergey Solovyov. In the role of 27-year-old Anna Karenina - 48-year-old actress Tatyana Drubich

2008 movie directed by Sergey Solovyov. In the role of 27-year-old Anna Karenina – 48-year-old actress Tatyana Drubich

But our unofficial motto about any foreign adaptations of Anna Karenina “They do not understand!” is incorrect. And it was enough for me to view the movie “Anna Karenina” by Russian director Sergey Solovyov, to understand something. In the movie there is an unspoken rule: if the film was a success, then the rest of the films on this topic will be a failure. And the Russian version of 2008 by Sergey Solovyov is not the exception. Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that it would be better not to watch this film at all.

Keira Knightley as Anna Karenina

Keira Knightley as Anna Karenina, in Camellia Poudre jewellery. 18-carat gold, diamonds and pearls necklace worth £800,000

Keira Knightley as Anna Karenina in 2012 eponymous film. And still, the miracle has not happen again. Though I love and respect Keira Knightley. She looks amazing in a hat with a veil, fluffy dress, and it is mesmerizing. But she was plausible, in my view, only in moments of sadness and melancholy. Happy Kira-Anna did not impress me at all. Although she tried, and probably did her best, but she is not Anna Karenina, written by Tolstoy.

Not a bad idea of the director to present a novel as the theater of action, but the unevenness of the genre, a feeling of depth, strength, and mood simply supported story lines, that’s all. Something is missing, or somebody… Not really a good casting. Besides, these silly jokes … I even didn’t drop a tear in the end.

Keira Knightley in Anna Karenina, 2012

Hollywood actress Keira Knightley in Anna Karenina, 2012

And the most obscene is, undoubtedly, a Soviet film of 1967, although it is not perfect. From overseas can be identified, in my opinion, version of 1948, with Vivien Leigh in the title role. Of course, the film has many controversial moments, but at least you can watch it without laughing. And the worst one, is the variant of Bernard Rose of 1997, with Sophia Marceau and Sean Bean.

New Anna Karenina

New Anna Karenina for 2016 film directed by Karen Shakhnazarov – actress Elizaveta Boyarskaya, Russia

Anna Karenina film adaptations

Sources of Images:
kino-teatr.ru
kinopoisk.ru