Bernard Rose’s Anna Karenina (1997)

I started the novel Anna Karenina a year ago and have still not finished it. Why ever not is hard to say. I am stuck on page 600 or so. Danielle seemed to have the same problem as did others. I just never got into it. Especially the Lewin bits slowed me down considerably even though I think he is an interesting character (and does get his share in the movie too). Having seen the movie years ago but not remembering it (only that I did not like it too much) I thought maybe watching it again might get me in the mood to finish the book.

Anna Karenina is a very sumptuous movie and I truly enjoyed the cinematography. This is a stunningly beautiful movie but…. It is flawed. Especially towards the end or rather from the stillbirth on.  I haven’t finished the book so I don’t know what Anna will become. The Anna in this movie got on my nerves (maybe due to poor acting) and I had unkind feelings when she was finally gone (Thank God, sort of). I did not get her suffering. And then there is Sean Bean as Vronsky. Sure Sophie Marceau is cute but the Anna I picture looks different. As frail as her but cooler, more classical.  To put a handsome man’s man like Sean Bean next to her did not help either. No chemistry whatsoever. I see an Anna before my inner eye but I can’t come up with an actress who would do her justice. Especially not next to Sean Bean. I would keep him as Vronsky, that’s for sure (despite his inability to get rid of his accent). All in all I felt Vronsky’s pain much more than Anna’s. That can’t be right now can it? I think Bernard Rose should have called his movie Vronsky.

Despite its flaws it is worth watching. The opulence of the costumes, palaces and houses is wonderful. I think we get a good impression of this society. Rich and frozen in rules and rituals. To be a woman and fall in love with another man than your husband was a catastrophe. It must have been horrible to be a woman in that society any which way you look at it.

Did anyone watch it and like it? Or maybe someone saw the one with Greta Garbo? Or any of the many others?

I am sorry for this very bad trailer but there wasn’t a good one to be found.

20 thoughts on “Bernard Rose’s Anna Karenina (1997)

  1. This movie does look sumptuous, but I don’t picture Sophie Marceau as Anna either. For some reason I think of Vronsky as dark, but Sean Bean certainly has his stature. I want to see this if only for the gorgeous settings and costumes! My library has only the Masterpiece Theater version–if you look on Amazon you can see the cover–and that actress is also not how I imagine Anna, but perhaps I will watch that one as well. I’m determined to finish and have been lugging the book with me on the bus to work every day! You’re so close–only 200 or so pages to go! In what language are you reading the book?

    • When I saw the movie for the first time I had a problem with Sean Bean in it but I think he is quite well chosen. And I really think he is very handsome. They just don’t look good together. It sure is a sumptuous movie. I might even rewatch it as I enjoyed the cinematography. I read the novel in German. The paper is flimsy and very tiny characters but I still have 400 pages to go. It has almost 1000 pages. This has never happened to me, to take more than a year to finish a book. Rosamund Lupton mentions War and Peace as one of her Top 10. I am NOT going to read that any day soon.

  2. This has little to do with your post (I haven’t read the book or seen the movie, although I wouldn’t mind doing both!) as I am mostly wondering HOW many languages do you speak? I want to learn a second language (I’ve always dreamed of being fluent in several) and I’ve been poking around the Rosetta Stone website. Do you recommend a method for learning a language? 🙂

    • I actually speak 7 (Swiss, German, French, Italian, Spanish, English, Dutch) languages. I am capable of grasping at least one other and I am trying to learn Russian and Swedish. I also have basics in really “odd” languages like Haitian Creole, Pidging from New Guinea and did a course on Ashanti Twi. (Is this called showing off?). My father is French, my mother talian and I grew up and live again in the German speaking part of Switzerland. I always spoke English. No idea why. How to learn a language? I don’t know Rosetta Stone. I did teach for a while and failed a few times. Meaning, the person did not learn the language. If it is not easy for you… I would say it depends on the language. People tend to not to take this into consideration. Any ideas what you would like to learn? You might need a teacher. i was actually wondering if I should offer an online-French course. No idea how but the idea tempts me. I love teaching.

      • Wow!! I totally envy you! I want to speak 5 languages and s far I can only manage 2 languages, apart from my native. and the other language (non-English) is still not fluent

      • Wow, 7 languages, that’s fantastic! I was thinking about trying Spanish since I really enjoy a lot of Latin American literature and I would love to read books in the original language. But I’m also interested in Italian because it is the language of my great-grandparents.

        • That is actually good as I would say Spanish is by far the easiest European language. Easier than French or Italian in any case. But it is quite different from English (more than French where there are some similar words). If it is for the literature it should be easier as well, as you would only need passive knowledge. Of course you would want all of it later. Courses would be great. Spanish movies (with subtitles) aren’t a good option to begin with. Spanish is much harder to understand than Italian. They don’t pronounce it as nicely as the Italians, at least in Spain. Argentinian seems the easiest as there is a bit of an Italian influence pronouciation-wise. I can’t learn with methods like Rosetta Stone but I have heard it is good. I think it really depends if you like to learn on your own and are able to motivate yourself. And you need to do it daily. Fix times. Rather daily a little bit than a whole lot once a week.
          I would start with something cheap like this I like them quite a bit. And do that for, let’s say a month, learn some words etc. Get a feel how you would like to learn. You can always try Rosetta Stone later. I don’t believe in effortless immersion. Maybe I am wrong. Hope this was a little bit helpful. You can always askeme if you have a question, also by e-mail. It is on the blog

      • Thanks so much for the tips. I definitely like the price on the course you suggested! I have a long commute to work, so the audio part should be fairly easy to stick to. I think I’m really ready right now to devote some time to learning a language, so cross your fingers. 🙂

  3. You just add the number of people (or bloggers) that find it difficult to finish Anna Karenina. I heard about this book in Oprah Show as one of his book club. And then I met some people, read some blogs, and a lot of people said it was boring and unable to finish it.
    I know I’m not going to read it because I read more plot driven book rather than charcter driven book.

    But to be honest, this is the 1st time I heard that there is a movie based on this book. I should try finding it, I like watching movie based on novel

  4. Yes, Sean Bean is handsome, but a pity that he and Sophie don’t have the right chemistry! I have the Pevear translation of the book and it only has just over 800 pages (I’m nearing page 500 so 300 doesn’t seem like too much to get through?). Interesting how many more pages the German translation takes–especially with tiny print (I wonder how many pages the original Russian has). My book is not too bad but there are large solid chunks of paragraphs with not many breaks–the print is readable though. It’s heavy to take on the bus, so it would be really nice to finish it on my days off. I read War and Peace a few years ago and I think it actually took me less time than AK is taking me, but I made myself read it and it alone when I made it to the halfway mark. I can’t seem to do that with AK–I have to have a break with some other book every day as well.

    • I was actually wondering if War and Peace wouldn’t be easier to read. My parents always used to have the classics in three lnaguages and I would compare. Often the French was longer than the old German translation where they left out parts. But there has been a re-translation frenzy of Russian authors in Germany…

  5. I got stuck in Anna Karenina but much earlier than you – I believe they were harvesting grass when I found my attention had wandered elsewhere and to other novels… I haven’t seen this movie, but I am generally happy to watch Sean Bean in anything! Have you seen the BBC version of Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa? He is Lovelace in it and quite amazing – it made him famous at the time it was broadcast.

    • Thanks for your visit, litlove. I still remember the harvesting of grass… It is in the movie as well. It’s one of those scenes that made me think I will never finish the book. This and Le rouge et le noir are my worst experiences with classics. Do you like Le rouge et le noir? Is it on your syllabus? I agree, Sean Bean is nice in almost everything. Will have to give Clarissa a go.

    • They would pay me Japanese or Chinese courses at work but I don’t dare starting either one or the other. I probably woud rather learn Chinese as I have been in Hong Kong and loved it but didn’t get very far with English (yes, that has already changed).

  6. I remember once trying to read War and Peace, and while I enjoyed parts of it, I was never engaged with it or with any of the characters.
    This sounds like a lovely looking film, and of course, the Sean Bean factor is always a plus 🙂

    • I am not even thinking of starting War and Peace. It’s my main problem with the book, I don’t care too much about the characters. Of course we all read it in translation but that can’t be the reason? Sean Bean is definitely a plus in this movie (or any other).

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