“Anna Karenina” 1935.
Seeing as October is about to conclude, I’m up to my last review for this month to be featured on Monty and Desiree’s website. The good news is that I have been made permanent, so I’ll be back with more reviews in the following months. Today I’ve decided to steer away from my usual inclinations by reviewing something different. I’ve chosen to review one of Greta Garbo’s signature films “Anna Karenina”.
Greta Garbo shines in what I consider to be her most spellbinding performance of her career. The film tells the story of Anna Karenina ( Greta Garbo ) the dutiful wife who is locked into a loveless marriage with Czarist official Karenin played by Basil Rathbone. The two have a young son Sergei ( Freddy Bartholomew ) to whom Anna is extremely magnanimous and bounteous towards. Sergei is Anna’s world. She would never part with her son. However things change when Anna meets and falls in love with Count Vronsky ( Fredric March ). At first they keep their predilection for each other a secret. Eventually Karenin finds out, and soon their affair causes speculation around St Petersburg. Anna wants to capitulate her position in 19th century Russia by absconding with Count, but Karenin refuses to give her a divorce. Despite Karenin’s repudiation, Anna decides to follow her heart and coalesce with Vronsky. Problems arise when Anna receives a letter from Karenin stating that he forbids her to see Sergei ever again. This leaves Anna in a state of despondency which results in tragic consequences
Apart from seeing her in a few good movies, I’ve never been a fan of Garbo, though I respect her as an actress, and strongly feel that she was one of the greats. I do believe that these type roles are the perfect vehicles for Garbo. She was superb in “Anna Karenina. The train scene where Garbo makes her entrance as Vronsky is watching her alight from the train and her face and luminous eyes are suddenly revealed through a large cloud of steam is magic and really epitomizes the fine art of movie making.
There has been several remakes of “Anna Karenina” but Garbo’s version is by far my favorite. As coincidence has it she also appeared in the original silent version titled “Love” where she starred alongside John Gilbert. Vivien Leigh also was cast in the role as “Anna Karenina” in the 1948 version, but in my opinion only Garbo with her alluring and mystique appeal could vanquish in the role as “Anna Karenina”. The only flaw I’ve got with this film is that I don’t find Fredric March to be very believable in the role as Vronsky. I would have picked more of a romantic type guy as Fredric March has always lacked that romantic appeal to me, but all in all the movie is copacetic with commendable performances by all.
Quotes from film:
Anna Karenina: “You say this knowing this I cannot do. There is no life for me without my child. To leave him would be infamous and base. I couldn’t. And you know I couldn’t.”
Karenin: “Very well. I can assume, then, that you will never again jeopardize my honor.”
Anna Karenina: “Oh, your honor! Your selfishness! Your hypocrisy! Your egotism! You’ve never considered me as a human being. Your social position and… your reputation. These must be kept up at what cost to those who are around you? At what cost?”
Karenin: [Checking his pocket watch] “It’s time for my appointment at the ministry.”
Greta Garbo: Born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson on September 18th, 1905 in Stockholm, Sweden. Died: April 15th, 1990 in New York.
Fredric March: Born Ernest Frederick McIntyre Bickel on August 31st, 1897 in Racine, Wisconsin. Died: April 14th, 1975 in Los Angeles.