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Anna Karenina

A movie directed by Julien Duvivier

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"When the end comes, what else is there to do but turn down the lights?..."

  • Nov 21, 2009
Vivien Leigh's return to films after a three-year absence was as the heroine of Tolstoy's literary classic, ANNA KARENINA. Director Julien Duvivier ("The Great Waltz", "Pepe le Moko") adds a nightmarish, haunted quality to this timeless tale of doomed love.

When Anna Karenina (Vivien Leigh) is called to Moscow to help mend a rift in her brother's marriage, she meets by chance the dashing Captain Vronsky (Kieron Moore) who immediately sets her world into a tailspin. Here is the man who can save Anna from the cold indifference of husband Karenin (Ralph Richardson), yet to embark on an affair will mean turning her back on beloved son Sergei (Patrick Skipworth) and exposure to scandal and disgrace.

Vivien Leigh's performance as Anna is amongst her finest work; capping off a series of tragic heroines which included Myra in "Waterloo Bridge" and Emma Hamilton in "That Hamilton Woman". Kieron Moore cuts a handsome figure as Vronksy; and Ralph Richardson is an incredibly sympathetic Karenin (world's apart from Basil Rathbone's one-note performance in the 1935 Garbo version). Sally Ann Howes co-stars as Kitty, with Martita Hunt as Princess Betsy.

The DVD comes with two fascinating featurettes detailing the life and legacy of Tolstoy, in addition to a photo gallery and restoration comparisons. Recommended.

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Byron Kolln ()
Ranked #55
Byron has been actively involved in theatre since the age of 12. He has had a great variety of roles (both on-stage and off). In addition he has hosted the long-running "Show Business" programme … more
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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 (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 Mokodirector 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 fromGone 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
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Director: Julien Duvivier
DVD Release Date: April 24, 2007
Runtime: 139 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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