Anna Karenina Reviews
It is a very good movie...shocking, but good.
Produced by David O. Selznick and directed by Clarence Brown...it's not a perfect film, but still highly entertaining and a feast for the eyes with it's beautiful costumes and lavish sets.
Anna Karenina (Greta Garbo) is the bored wife of a government official, Alexi Karenin (Basil Rathbone), who seems to care more for his duties to the state than to his wife. They have a young son, Sergei (Freddie Bartholomew).
During a visit to her relatives in Moscow, Anna meets a dashing army officer, the Count Alexi Vronsky (Fredrik March). Vronsky is instantly smitten by Anna's beauty... so much so that later, during a ball they attend, Vronsky completely ignores his date, Kitty (Maureen O'Sullivan) to be with Anna.
When Anna returns home a few days later... she realizes how loveless her marriage really
is... but also excited to be pursued by the handsome Vronsky. They continue to surreptitiously see each other and soon become the subject of much gossip. Karenin is aware of his wife's indiscretions and the impact it could have on his career and social standings... so he bans Anna from the house and refuses her visiting rights to their son when Anna refuses to give up seeing Vronsky.
The one problem I see with this film is that Basil Rathbone as Karenin is very good as the cuckold husband that he completely overshadows Fredric March's Vronsky. Anna's relationship with Vronsky should have played hotter (well, maybe not... considering the code imposed at the time). The script should have been tweaked in that regard. I've read comments that March is miscast here opposite Garbo...but I think it's more the fault of the script. I see no fault with Garbo's performance as Anna Karenina - a tailor made role for her.
There are some interesting shots here also... especially the one tracking shot down a very long dining table. I wondered how the camera could fit between the plates of food and the candelabras...
There is also a nice shot of a sunrise through a train window- symbolizing possibly the start of a new phase in Anna Karenina's life.
Will see how this holds up to the other versions...
8 / 10
The film features impressive sets and costumes. There are depictions of upper-class Russian rituals such as drinking games, dancing and a stage production. These are for the most part well-done, although the stage production seemed drawn out.
Greta Garbo as Anna, Fredric March as Vronsky and Basil Rathbone as Karenin lead the cast. It is an impressive roster, and all of them give solid performances, especially Rathbone and Garbo, but the characters they played were not exceptionally interesting. Freddie Bartholomew is notable as Sergei, Anna's astute young scientist of a child that has some touching scenes with Garbo.
This film is watchable and has a number of decent scenes, but never gains much momentum beyond a basic love story. Sadly I didn't form any strong attachments to the characters such that I was even indifferent to Anna's final fate at the end of the story. I'm not sure how other adaptations of the novel compare, but this one is somewhat flat despite having three accomplished performers in the lead parts.