A sumptuous Hollywood version of Tolstoy’s classic novel. With lavish production design and magnificent cinematography “Anna Karenina” is a stunning example of Hollywood romantic cinema. The film eschews Tolstoy’s detailed examination of Anna and Karenin’s failed marriage, and it dilutes the author’s condemnation of Russian society’s sexual hypocrisy. But at its centre the film has the ravishing Greta Garbo. From her first appearance in close-up to her final tragic scene, Garbo enriches the film with the grandeur and power of her screen persona. The film also stars Frederic March, Basil Rathbone and Maureen O’Sullivan but it is Garbo’s film: her mythic presence is wonderfully right for this version of Tolstoy’s tragedy.
David O. Selznick
Black and White