Nicola Pagett (Upstairs, Downstairs) is Tolstoy's doomed heroine in this superb 1977 BBC adaptation of the epic novel. Taking its time, the Emmy®-nominated miniseries covers not only Anna and Vronsky's romance but also Levin and Kitty's. Many fans consider this the best of all filmed versions, truest to the book; the costumes are splendid. Filmed in Budapest, the Hungarian countryside, and England (Soviet Russia under Brezhnev wasn't available). With Stuart Wilson as Vronsky and Eric Porter as Karenin. 10 episodes, 10 hrs, 3 DVDs, SDH.
Anna's philandering brother, Stiva, summons her to Moscow to help save his marriage to Dolly. Stiva's friend Levin arrives in Moscow to propose marriage to Dolly's sister Kitty, who has fallen in love with another man. Anna meets Count Vronsky, a handsome young officer, and convinces Dolly not to leave Stiva.
At a ball the next night, Kitty anticipates a proposal, but her hopes are dashed when she sees Vronsky and Anna together. Levin visits his brother Nikolai, who lives in depraved circumstances. Traveling home to St. Petersburg, Anna learns that Vronsky is on the train. She is reunited with her husband, Karenin, and their son, Seriozha.
Levin returns to his country estate, determined never to marry, and Kitty falls ill. At a party in St. Petersburg, Vronsky declares his love for Anna. Later, Karenin counsels Anna against the appearance of impropriety, and Vronsky's mother gives Anna unwanted advice.
Vronsky asks Anna to leave Karenin and run away with him. At a steeplechase race, Vronsky suffers a terrible accident, and Karenin witnesses Anna's uncontrollable distress. When he scolds her for unseemly public behavior, she admits that she loves Vronsky. Karenin issues an ultimatum-and a warning.
Karenin asks Anna to stay with him for the sake of appearances. Anna reveals that it's too late for that. Levin visits Dolly, who encourages him to try again with Kitty. Levin refuses, but a chance sighting of Kitty rekindles his love for her. Karenin threatens divorce, and Levin meets once more with his ailing brother.
Anna sends a telegram to Karenin, begging him to come at once. Stiva arranges a meeting between Levin and Kitty that leads to a happy conclusion. At the delirious Anna's bedside, Karenin forgives Vronsky. Overcome by guilt and humiliation, Vronsky takes drastic action.
Back home with Karenin, Seriozha, and her infant daughter, Anna learns of Vronsky's fate and his new posting to faraway Tashkent. He wants to say goodbye before he leaves. Stiva, seeing Anna's profound unhappiness, offers to talk with Karenin about proceeding with the divorce. Anna makes a monumental decision.
Levin and Kitty begin their life together and care for Nikolai in his final days. Realizing that Europe is not the escape they imagined, Anna and Vronsky return to Russia, where they soon discover that they will never be accepted by society. When Anna is forbidden to see Seriozha, she goes behind Karenin's back to meet with her son.
Dolly agrees to visit Anna and Vronsky when no one else will. Vronsky tells Dolly about his frustration with Anna and his desire for children of his own; by law, their daughter is a Karenin. Dolly urges Anna to get a divorce, and Anna finally writes to Karenin.
Months have passed, but Anna has received no word from Karenin. Anna and Vronsky are increasingly distant and bitter. He can move freely in Russian society, but she cannot, and she fears that he has other lovers. Alone and desperate, she orders a carriage and leaves for the train station.
Packaging: Boxed set
Run Time: 539 minutes
Format: Full screen
Number of Discs: 3
Color or B&W: Color
Region Code: 1
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
"Ravishing" --Los Angeles Times
"Sumptuous" --People magazine
"Supremely faithful, superbly scripted" --The Australian
"Romantic and tragic" --New York Daily News
BAFTA TV Award Nomination for Best Lighting (1978)
BAFTA TV Award Nomination for Best Costume Design (1978)
BAFTA TV Award Nomination for Best Makeup (1978)
Primetime Emmy Award Nomination for Outstanding Art Direction for a Drama Series (1978)
Primetime Emmy Award Nomination for Outstanding Limited Series (1978)