Anna Karenina (1997 film)

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Anna Karenina
Leo tolstoys anna karenina.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Bernard Rose
Produced by Bruce Davey
Screenplay by Bernard Rose
Based on Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Starring Sophie Marceau
Sean Bean
Alfred Molina
Mia Kirshner
James Fox
Music by Georg Solty
Cinematography Daryn Okada
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • April 4, 1997 (1997-04-04)
Running time
108 minutes
Country United States, United Kingdom
Language English
Box office $2,196,650[1][2]

Anna Karenina is a 1997 film directed by Bernard Rose and starring Sophie Marceau, Sean Bean, Alfred Molina, Mia Kirshner, and James Fox. Based on the 1877 novel Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, with a screenplay by Bernard Rose, the film is about a young and beautiful married woman who meets a handsome count, with whom she falls in love. After he joins her in Saint Petersburg, they have a passionate love affair, but their happiness is eventually undermined by social pressures. Unable to obtain a divorce from her older husband, she continues her affair with the count and in time gives birth to his child. Eventually, the conflict between her passionate desires and painful social realities leads to depression and despair. The film is the only international version filmed entirely in Russia, at locations in Saint Petersburg and Moscow.


Anna Karenina is a young and elegant wife of Alexei Karenin, a wealthy nobleman twenty years her senior. She is unhappy and lives only for their son, Seriozha. During a ball in Moscow, she encounters the handsome Count Alexei Vronsky. Vronsky is instantly smitten and follows her to St. Petersburg, pursuing her shamelessly. Eventually, Anna surrenders to her feelings for him and becomes his mistress. Though they are happy together, their relationship soon crumbles after she miscarries his child. Karenin is deeply touched by her pain and agrees to forgive her. However, Anna remains unhappy and, to the scandal of respectable society, she openly leaves her husband for Vronsky.

Using her brother as an intermediary, Anna hopelessly begs her husband for a divorce. Karenin indignantly refuses and denies her access to Seriozha. Distraught by the loss of her son, Anna grows severely depressed and self-medicates with laudanum. Before long, she is hopelessly addicted. With Vronsky she has another child, but he is also torn between his love to Anna and the temptation of a respectable marriage. Anna becomes certain that Vronsky is about to leave her and marry a younger woman. She travels to the railway station and commits suicide by jumping in front of a train.

Vronsky is emotionally devastated by her death and volunteers for a 'suicide mission' in the Balkan war. While travelling to join his regiment, he encounters Konstantin Levin, who has married Vronsky's former sweetheart, Princess "Kitty" Shcherbatsky. Levin attempts to persuade Vronsky of the value of life. Vronsky, however, can only speak of how Anna's body looked at the train station. They separate and Levin returns to his family. He writes the events of the film and signs his manuscript, "Leo Tolstoy."



The film was a joint production by Icon Productions and Warner Bros.. The film has an international cast with the participation of Russian cast and additional crew from Trite Studio and the Lenfilm Studios in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The project was started with help from Mel Gibson, who was approached by Sophie Marceau, and initiated the main budget of about $20 million coming from his company Icon Productions. Casting was made by Marion Dougherty, casting director of Warner Bros. Studios. Screenplay was written by British writer/director Bernard Rose. Filming was done entirely in Russia between February and August 1996. Post-production was made partially in Europe and the studio version editing was completed in the USA.

The original director's cut was not released to the public; it was reduced from 140 minutes to 108 min and distributed internationally by Warner Bros. The US theatrical premiere was in April 1997, followed by the European premiere in May 1997.


Filming was made entirely in Russia. Main filming locations were in St. Petersburg; at several of the palaces of Russian Tsars as well as historic mansions of Russian Nobility, such as The Winter Palace, Peterhof, Menshikov Palace, Yusupov Palace and other locations. Several minor scenes were filmed in Moscow, Russia.


Music by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, and Prokofiev was recorded in performance by the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Sir Georg Solti. The score was recorded in The St Petersburg Philharmonic Hall, where Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6, "Pathetique" first premiered. Incidentally, this symphony is played most prominently in key scenes from the film. Director Bernard Rose and Sir Georg Solti both agreed that the Symphony bore parallels with Anna Karenina's story, mainly for the music's excessively tragic tones and Anna's melancholy.[3]


Several DVD editions were released internationally after 1997. Some DVD editions in Europe are variants of this title: "Tolstoi's Anna Karenina" and "Leo Tolstoi's Anna Karenina" and may vary in film running time from 104 to 108 minutes. The original director's cut was over 140 minutes, but it was not released.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Comments by Sir Georg Solti and Bernard Rose in Anna Karenina Soundtrack, on Icon Records

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