Anna Karenina (Vivien Leigh) is married to a rigid and boring politician (Ralph Richardson). Despite herself, she falls in love with the dashing young Kieron Moore. Richardson retaliates by cutting her off from her son. And though having an affair is tolerated by upper class Russian society, the couple wind up challenging convention too far, and Anna finds herself completely ostracized.
In Gone with the Wind, Leigh took a character in Scarlett O’Hara who, on the face of it, …s entirely unsympathetic, but made her compelling. Lightning doesn’t strike twice here. Her Anna is so utterly selfish and uncaring of the damage she causes to others that her destiny doesn’t have the emotional wallop of grand tragedy, and viewers might be forgiven for wishing her and her callow lover ill (Moore is rather strikingly unappealing). The production design, however, as one would expect from an Alexander Korda production, is sumptuous. The film is compelling, but fails to tug at the heartstrings.
Mono and stero, once again, are the options. The 2.0 stereo is quite faint in the rear speakers, and thus the usual flaws of this sort of remix are barely noticeable. The sound is quite warm, and serves the music well. The volume is variable, however, and there is some background hiss and static, and the occasional bit of gurgling.
Other than a bit of flicker, noticeable at the beginning, the picture quality is excellent. The print is free of damage, the black-and-white tones are wonderful (no bleaching here), the image is sharp, and the grain is virtually nonexistent. This is a very handsome film, and the transfer certainly does it justice.
There are two featurettes: “Tolstoy: The Man Behind Anna” and “The Tolstoy Legacy.” These are interesting enough, but, as their titles imply, have little to do with the movie itself. A still gallery and some lobby cards are the only direct references to the movie, and there’s the usual restoration comparison.
By no means a perfect film, but one that is very easy on the eyes.
Special Features List
- 2 Featurettes
- Still Gallery
- Restoration Comparison
- Lobby Cards