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Friday, July 24, 2015

Anna Karenina (1967)

In pre-revolutionary Moscow, a young aristocrat (Tatyana Samoylova, CRANES ARE FLYING) is in a loveless marriage to a much older man (Nikolai Gritsenko). When she meets a dashing young Count (Vasiliy Lanovoy), they begin a passionate affair that can only lead to tragedy. Leo Tolstoy's classic novel has seen more film (going back to the silent era) and TV adaptations from around the world than I care to count. Most of them have their assets and liabilities but this version from director Aleksandr Zarkhi has an authenticity that sets it apart from the others. The fact that it's actually a Russian film already gives it an edge and the film gives more time to the novel's subsidiary characters, notably Kitty (Anastasiya Vertinskaya) and Konstantin (Boris Goldayev) than most versions and Karenin is a major part of the narrative rather than a third wheel to the Anna/Vronsky romance. Try as I might, I've always found it difficult to give Anna much sympathy. Granted, she's a victim of a patriarchal hypocrisy where men are forgiven their infidelities with a wink while women are branded as outcasts but she seems so intently willful in her own self destruction. Still, as film versions go this one gets it right.

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