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Depictions of Anna Karenina

Updated on August 13, 2015

Actresses who have played Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina is considered one of the more romantic stories in literature. It was written in 1877 by Leo Tolstoy. Its an example of Realism fiction. It tells the story of the beautiful Anna who though married with a child, falls into a passionate love affair with the dashing Count Vronsky. Her affair ultimately leads to her downfall and her suicide. Anna's story runs parallel to the pure love story of Levin and Kitty.

Anna Karenina has been remade into numerous versions and this lens looks at the women who have depicted Anna in TV and movies.

Painting of an Unknown women used for Anna Karenina by t Ivan Kramskoi, 1883
Painting of an Unknown women used for Anna Karenina by t Ivan Kramskoi, 1883

A little about Madame Karenina

Anna Arkadyevna Karenina is described as very beautiful with her black hair that has curls in it and a shapely figure. However she is very intelligent with a sharp wit and appreciation for the arts. At the beginning of the book through she is in a loveless marriage she is not unhappy. It’s after she falls in love with Count Vronsky that she relieves her unhappiness in her marriage.

She is a very complex character as she is very flawed and very human. As she destroys herself through her passions and her paranoia that Vronsky is falling out of love with her you can’t help but to sympathize with her pain.

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M. Sorochtina

1911 Version

This was the first film version os Anna Karenina. It’s a Russian movie and was directed by Maurice Andre Maitre. It stared M. Sorochtina as Anna. This film is lost

Mariya Germanova
Mariya Germanova

Mariya Germanova

1914

Like the 1911 version, this version is also Russian. It was directed by Vladimir Gardin. It stared Mariya Germanova as Anna.

This film is also lost.

Betty Nansen
Betty Nansen

Betty Nansen

1915

This is the first American version. It was directed by J. Gordan Edwards. It stared Danish actress Betty Nansen as Anna.

This film is also considered to be lost.

Greta Garbo as Anna in Love
Greta Garbo as Anna in Love

Greta Garbo

Love 1927

Directed by Edmund Goulding this American version has to alternative endings.

One, the European version follows the novel and the American version is a happy ending where Anna and Vronsky are together.

This version started Greta Garbo and was silent. Besides the American happy ending the film takes liberties with story. But the film is a great example of the chemistry between Garbo and John Gilbert.

Greta Garbo as Anna Karenina
Greta Garbo as Anna Karenina

Greta Garbo

1935

In the 1935 version, Greta Garbo reprised her role as Anna. This version, directed by Clarence Brown, is famous and critically acclaimed. All around, the casting is great and Garbo is one of the few Anna that starts off vivacious and flirty before becoming a tragic broken figure

Vivien Leigh as Anna Karenina in a Promational Shot
Vivien Leigh as Anna Karenina in a Promational Shot

Vivien Leigh

1948


In the 1948 version, Anna is played Vivien Leigh. This version was directed by Julien Duvivier. Leigh plays Anna as sophisticated and glamorous. Leigh is well cast as Anna but the rest of the cast falters.

Faten Hamama and Omar Sharif in Nahr al-hob
Faten Hamama and Omar Sharif in Nahr al-hob

Faten Hamama

Nahr al-hob (River of Love 1960)

The film is an Egyptian version of Anna Karenina. It translates to River of Love. It stars Faten Hamama as Nawal, who is the Anna character.

The film isn't a period piece as it takes place in 60's Egypt. However it follows the novel pretty well and was hailed as one of the top Egyptian movies in 1996. It also stars Omar Sharif as the Vronsky character.

Claire Bloom as Anna Karenina
Claire Bloom as Anna Karenina

Claire Bloom

1961

The 1961 version was a TV movie staring Claire Bloom as Anna and Sean Connery as Count Vronski. Bloom is a visual expressive Anna with a haunting delicacy.

Tatyana Samojilova as Anna Karenina
Tatyana Samojilova as Anna Karenina

Tatyana Samojlova

1967

For many people the 1967 version is the seminal adaptation. It stars Tatyana Samojlova as Anna Karenina. It's a Soviet film directed by Aleksandr Zarkhi.

Samojlova's Anna starts off with a great blend of playfulness and sophistication. She also has a great restraint when Anna is losing control over her life. Samojlova's performance as Anna is a very strong and compelling

Anna Pagett as Anna Karenina
Anna Pagett as Anna Karenina

Nicola Pagett

1977

The 1977 version is a ten-part BBC series. Anna is played by Nicola Pagett.

Pagett plays up the sophisticated glamorous women with a touch of playfulness but her portrayal of Anna's decline is unhinged and heartbreaking.

Jacqueline Bisset as Anna Karenina
Jacqueline Bisset as Anna Karenina

Jacqueline Bisset

1985

The 1985 version of Anna Karenina was made for TV movie. It stared Jacqueline Bisset as Anna and Christopher Reeve as Vronsky. This version is a condense version. Bisset's Anna is very heartfelt.

Sophie Marceau as Anna Karenina
Sophie Marceau as Anna Karenina

Sophie Marceau

1997

The 1997 version was directed by Bernard Rose. It stars Sophie Marceau as Anna and Sean Bean as Vronsky.

Marceau plays Anna on the serious sophisticated side. Marceau convey a lot of Anna’s turmoil with her facial expressions.

Helen McCrory as Anna Karenina
Helen McCrory as Anna Karenina

Helen McCrory

2000 Mini series

This version was a two part mini-series. It stars Helen McCrory as Anna.

It’s a very solid version. McCrory brings a lot of grace to the role as Anna and plays the role very well.

Keira Knightley as Anna Karenina
Keira Knightley as Anna Karenina

Keira Knightley

2012

The 2012 version was directed by Joe Wright and is the most styled version of the story. It opts to have a play and backstage motif to symbolize Russian society of the 1800s. Another aspects of the style is that the costumes are heavily influenced on mingling 1950’s couture with Victorian styles. Anna is played by Keira Knightley which was a choice that met with a lot of contention among movie-goers.

Vittoria Puccini as Anna Karenina
Vittoria Puccini as Anna Karenina | Source

Vittoria Puccini

2013

This version was a two part mini-series. It's stars Vittoria Puccini as Anna.

This version is very lavish and beautifully shot. Puccini plays Anna as very charming and her gracefully communicated Anna's struggles.

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Tatyana Samojilova as Anna Karenina
Tatyana Samojilova as Anna Karenina

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