Monday, October 26, 2009

Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina (1935) was directed by Clarence Brown and stars Greta Garbo and Fredric March. It is based on the novel Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.

Anna Karenina (Greta Garbo) is married to Karenin (Basil Rathbone) and they have a small child Sergei (Freddie Bartholomew). Kerenin is devoted to his work and does not have much time for Anna. There home is in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Anna makes a trip to Moscow to see her brother Stiva (Reginald Owen) and his family. Anna's sister-in-law, Dolly (Phoebe Foster) is fed up with her husband's extra marital affairs especially one with the family's governess. Anna encourges Dolly to forgive Stiva and for them to stay together.

Meanwhile, Dolly's younger sister Kitty (Maureen O'Sullivan) tells Anna of her new love Count Vronsky (Fredric March). Anna briefly met Count Vronsky when she arrived in Moscow as she traveled from St. Petersburg to Moscow on the same train as his mother.

At a dance attended by all, Anna and Vronsky are immediately smitten with each other and begin an affair. Anna returns to St. Petersburg and her husband and young son. However, her affair with Vronsky continues. Anna and Vronsky become the subject of much gossip among the social elite of St. Petersburg.

Meanwhile, a eartbroken, Kitty marries her young suitor Levin (Gyles Isham).

Karenin fed up with the gossip and worried about his standing among St. Petersburg's elite, gives Anna an ulitmatum, she is to stop seeing Vronsky or she will never see her son again. Anna begs Karenin for a divorce but he refuses.

Anna unable to stay away from Vronsky, the couple run away together to Italy. While in Italy, Anna deeply misses her son and Vronsky and Anna return to St. Petersburg. However, Karenin refuses to allow Anna to see their son. In fact, he has told their son that she died. Anna goes to the family home anyway and sees her son for his birthday. Karenin orders her to leave at once.

Countess Vronsky (May Roberson) disapproves of her son's relationship with Anna. She tries to interfere by introducing him a very beatufiul young lady at an opera in which Vronsky and Anna attend.

Vronsky and Anna, although in love, their relationship is suffering. Anna cannot stand being away from her son. They are both shunned by the social elite of St. Petersburg and feel alone except for each other. Vronsky wants to join the volunteer regiment and fight among his fellow commrades, Anna wants him to stay with her.

Anna and Vronsky have a huge fight. Vronsky runs off to join the volunteer regiment in Moscow. Anna tries to send word to him in order to work things out and goes to Moscow. Anna is unable to get word to Vronsky and races to the train station to catch him before he leaves but sees him saying goodbye to the woman from the opera that his mother introduced him too.

While trying to get word to Vronsky, Anna goes to her brother's home in Moscow. Her brother basically tells her that her affair with Vronsky is wrong. Then he tells his wife Dolly he won't be home tonight as he has an "engagement" and everyone knows his "engagement" is another women. Dolly and Anna have a heart to heart talk. Dolly reminds Anna of their early conversation in which Anna pleaded with Dolly to forgive and stay with Stiva. Dolly tells Anna she understands her situation with Vronsky. Dolly makes the statement they both paid dearly for their choices. Dolly has her children but is in an unhappy marriage with a cheating husband. Anna is happy with Vronsky but lost her child. It is a no win situation no matter which path the women take.

Anna is heartbroken and alone with no where to turn. What will she do...........................?

This is a heartbreaking love story. Anna is in a loveless marriage. She finally finds love with Vronsky. If Anna stays with Karenin for the sake of her child she will be miserable. If she goes with her love Vronsky, she loses her child. As Dolly pointed out, no matter which path Anna takes, she will be unhappy.

I really enjoyed this movie. The love story is heartbreaking. I really felt for Anna.

On a more positive note, the movie opens with one of the most delightful drinking games I have ever seen.

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