Vivien Leigh is a "Scarlett" woman as tragic heroine Anna Karenina, unhappily married to "colossal bore" Alexei (Ralph Richardson), who neglects her to attend to affairs of state. When Anna meets the dashing Count Vronsky ... more »(Kieron Moore), she begins an affair of her own that scandalizes St. Petersburg and leads to her ostracization from high-society circles and, in a heartbreaking scene, her beloved son. Pepe Le Moko director Julien Duvivier's 1948 adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's oft-filmed book has stretches that make the film seem as long and cold as a Russian winter night, but the ravishing Leigh as the doomed Anna keeps the fires burning. The "thoughtless and selfish" Anna is a distant relation of the willfull Ms. O'Hara from Gone with the Wind, although her ultimate comeuppance leaves no hope for "another day." This is a high-minded prestige production (Tolstoy gets his name above the title), but it offers the more simple, old fashioned pleasures of a Hollywood melodrama. --Donald Liebenson« less
"I can barely review the movie: everyone knows a movie adaptation of a great book like Anna Karenina is bound to have shortcomings. But let me tell you about this heck of a ghastly DVD production! Who on earth is behind this sloppy transfer? The movie was made in 1948, but you'd think it was 1918, looking at the hideously blurry, fuzzy, melted frames, and chopped soundtrack. Funny color gizmos even appear sometime for a split second on the screen, definite signs of the little care that was paid to the DVD production of this otherwise decent movie. A reviewer here mentionned the error in the poster on the cover (yes, that's Garbo indeed): if only that was the only sloppiness in this DVD output! Shame shame shame......"
Another Great Role for Vivien Leigh
Carolyn McKenzie | Wauwatosa, WI USA | 08/01/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"What a beautiful and talented actress she was! Though most only remember her for Gone With The Wind, Miss Leigh's other roles were equally captivating. My copy of the DVD is fine, no quality issues, and it features Miss Leigh on the cover, not Garbo as another reviewer mentioned.On to the romance. Anna Karenina is locked in a loveless marriage to a much older count. She falls in love with a handsome, dashing younger man and defies society by running off with him. In one scene, she comes back "home" to sneak in to see her beloved young son, whom she left to pursue her passion. What a heart wrencing scene that is!Treat yourself to a night of classic cinema. Buy Anna Karenina!"
Tolstoy would have approved
Carolyn McKenzie | 08/17/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The 19th century's greatest portraitist of women would have been impressed by this very faithful adaptation of his ground breaking novel. Typical of this era in film making, the black and white photography is painterly. The final sequence at the snow-shrouded train station captures Tolstoy's writing and imagery to an astonishing degree. See this picture and harken to each word. You will be well rewarded."
Miss Leigh nudges out Garbo for best "Anna" honors.
Brent Carleton | 02/17/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First off, let us concede that neither the 1935 Greta Garbo "Anna Karenina" nor the 1948 Vivian Leigh version comes close to capturing the complexities of Tolstoy's masterpiece. Most significantly, Konstantin Levin and Kitty's relationship, and more particularly, Levin's protracted personal and metaphysical development, are dropped entirely, both screenplays preferring to treat the story as an adulterous romantic triangle with snowflakes instead of palm trees.
That said, what we are left with in both films are masterpieces of film craftsmanship, where the triple triumphs of cinematography, art direction, and costume design are the real stars.
Which is not in any way to lessen the contributions of the cast, who in both instances, make the best of what they have to work with.
Garbo enchants in many of her individual scenes, particularly with Freddy Bartholomew and Maureen O'Sullivan, (as Kitty). Who can forget her advising Kitty to seize her fleeting youth, with its promise of a dream prince to emerge from the blue haze of the mountain top. Equally impressive, is her muted aversion to Alexei Karenin, (Basil Rathbone).
But she fails in her depiction of a fatal love for Count Vronsky (Frederic March). Garbo, with her solemn, majestic and singular self possession--her "Queen Christina" like cerebral detachment, is simply too thoughtful, too deliberate, to in any way convey Tolstoy's impulsive, febrile and thoughtless anti-heroine.
True, she had forsaken all for John Gilbert in "Christina," but that decision was the result of deep and thorough soul searching, and explained with the eloquence of Solomon to her courtiers. In "Camille" she is by profession a lover, and so her ultimate renunciation of Armand, reveals the true depth of her character. But one cannot conceive of her destroying the lives of others to satisfy a whimsical infatuation.
And this is where Miss Leigh's Anna trumps Garbo, for Miss Leigh does successfully transmit Anna's neurasthenic and utterly reckless collapse at the feet of the dashing Count. She seems blown by forces much stronger than she--a daffodil in a windstorm, and light years from Garbo's deep Scandanavian imperturbability.
Given the alleged similarities between Miss Leigh and Anna's disposition, perhaps this is life imitating art. In any case, it is why she makes a truer Anna, and why the role serves as a warm up for Blanche Dubois...
She is also abetted in her interpretation, by the genuinely eerie, recurring, nightmare sequence--with the Charon like, white bearded old man, forever dogging her as he chinks away at the ice. An ill omen indeed ! And Miss Leigh conveys the desperation of her impending doom in every gesture and nuance.
Then too Keiron Moore, (despite being an inferior actor to Frederic March) is much more dashing and handsome as Vronsky--a fact which, at least in terms of audience sympathy, helps explain the attraction.
Strangely, Mr. March who had been so visually appealing as Dr. Jeckyll, just a few years earlier, photographs very poorly in the Garbo version, and is not helped by a buzz haircut.
And as superb as Cedric Gibbons sets and Adrian's costumes are as a backdrop for Garbo, we feel Mr.Andrejew's art direction and Cecil Beaton's designs get the nod here as well, if only perhaps in their European origin, and the deep, appropriately moody nineteenth century shadows with which they are lit and photographed.
However, as visually sumptuous cinematic recreations of a vanished aristocratic world--each version has much to savor, and should be taken in tandem.
A "Regular People" Review
Konstantin | 01/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First of all, I've read Anna Karenina and I love it. While I was in Iraq this past year, I saw in the PX a copy of Anna Karenina....WHAT?...In Iraq? So, not being one to buy movies, I hesitated before saying to myself, "If I don't buy it, who will"...I bought it, watched it, and loved it. I expected it to be bad, but the movie really charmed me over. Not as in depth as the later BBC miniseries, but this has a unique place all its own. Watch it....and keep me updated!"