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In Czarist Russia, Anna Karenina falls in love with the dashing military officer Count Vronsky and abandons her husband and child to become Vronsky's mistress. Tragedy ensues when Vronsky chooses his military career over Anna.Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
There were quite a few reasons for wanting to see this, the 1927 silent film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's 'Anna Karenina'. Always had appreciated classic/pre-70s film from an early age, and love it even more now, and while it took more time getting into silent film there is high appreciation for them too (a large number of them anyhow). The book is a literary classic and Greta Garbo was a magical screen presence throughout her career.
Somewhat of a loose adaptation, and feeling more like a Garbo-John Gilbert film than an adaptation of Tolstoy, 1927's 'Anna Karenina' is not the best version out there of Tolstoy's masterpiece. For me, the 1977 mini-series is the definitive overall adaptation and the 1967 and 1935 films (the latter also with Garbo as Anna) also rank highly. Neither is it the worst, the 2012 Joe Wright-directed and 1997 Sophie Marceau films are lesser adaptations. On its own terms, this 'Anna Karenina' is a well done film and is worth seeing definitely.
'Anna Karenina' does feel on the rushed side, due to a lot of story and characterisation crammed into a (from personal view) too short length. Which would have meant more character depth, which was a little lacking at times. The added soundtrack doesn't really add an awful lot and even distracts with the additional noise.
Of the endings, the tragic one is much better and fits the story much more. Very poignant. The other one feels tacked on and studio-interference-like.
With all that being said, the costumes and settings are suitably opulent complemented beautifully by the photography. The story generally is intelligently adapted and literate, and the emotional impact is far from absent. Enough of it is quite moving, the film doesn't feel too creaky or stagy and while the pace is not perfect it doesn't feel dull at the same time.
It's all directed sympathetically and with engagement with the material. The character relationships are well handled, with that between Anna and her son (appealingly played by Philippe De Lacy) being particularly touching. Garbo is completely captivating and embodies her role and with Gilbert it is great to see a Vronsky who isn't bland and has charming appeal, nobility and even a little caddish-ness. Karenin has been more memorably portrayed in other adaptations where the character writing is meatier, but Brandon Hurst plays him well.
Summing up, worth a try if not one of the best versions. 7/10
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