Watch an 8‑Part Film Adaptation of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina Free Online

Ear­li­er this week we fea­tured Sergei Bon­darchuk’s four-part film adap­ta­tion of Leo Tol­stoy’s War and Peace. You can watch that most ambi­tious of all filmed ver­sions of War and Peace free online on the Youtube chan­nel of Mos­film, the Sovi­et Union’s nation­al stu­dio. Though the U.S.S.R. may have gone, Mos­film has­n’t. Under the direc­tion of film­mak­er Karen Shakhnazarov, the stu­dio has sol­diered on as a qua­si-pri­vate pro­duc­tion com­pa­ny and put out a vari­ety of films, many of them root­ed in Russ­ian his­to­ry and lit­er­a­ture. Five years ago, Shakhnazarov him­self direct­ed an eight-part adap­ta­tion of anoth­er beloved Tol­stoy nov­el, Anna Karen­i­na.

War and Peace (watch here) has been made into four dif­fer­ent films. But that’s noth­ing beside the at least sev­en­teen Anna Karen­i­na movies in exis­tence, not count­ing Shakhnazarov’s. It was first released in a rel­a­tive­ly short cut, its run­time trun­cat­ed to a bit over two and a half hours, as Anna Karen­i­na: Vron­sky’s Sto­ry.

That ver­sion’s nar­ra­tive focused, as you may have guessed, on the life of Anna’s irre­sistible aris­to­crat­ic lover. Lat­er, Russia‑1 tele­vi­sion broad­cast Shakhnazarov’s work in full as an eight-episode series sim­ply titled Anna Karen­i­na, which you can now watch free online, in full, at Mos­film’s Youtube chan­nel. Stream all parts above.

In a sense, this ser­i­al for­mat is well suit­ed to Tol­stoy’s nov­el, orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished as it was in install­ments between 1875 and 1877. But even those who’ve read Anna Karen­i­na’s thou­sand pages over and over again will have rea­sons to be sur­prised by Shakhnazarov’s ver­sion, which takes the sto­ry of fam­i­ly, class, infi­deli­ty, faith, and feu­dal­ism in direc­tions of its own. It also incor­po­rates mate­r­i­al from out­side Tol­stoy’s oeu­vre, such as “Dur­ing the Japan­ese War” and “Sto­ries About the Japan­ese War” by Viken­ty Vere­saev, a doc­tor, writer, and Tol­stoy schol­ar who par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Rus­so-Japan­ese War of 1904. Like any “free adap­ta­tion,” Shakhnazarov’s ver­sion of Anna Karen­i­na, will send its view­ers back to the book — and ensure that they nev­er read it quite the same way again.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Watch the Huge­ly Ambi­tious Sovi­et Film Adap­ta­tion of War and Peace Free Online (1966–67)

An Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tion to Leo Tol­stoy, and How His Great Nov­els Can Increase Your Emo­tion­al Intel­li­gence

The Art of Leo Tol­stoy: See His Draw­ings in the War & Peace Man­u­script & Oth­er Lit­er­ary Texts

Free: Watch Bat­tle­ship Potemkin and Oth­er Films by Sergei Eisen­stein, the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Sovi­et Film­mak­er

Free Online: Watch Stalk­er, Mir­ror, and Oth­er Mas­ter­works by Sovi­et Auteur Andrei Tarkovsky

Watch 70 Movies in HD from Famed Russ­ian Stu­dio Mos­film: Clas­sic Films, Beloved Come­dies, Tarkovsky, Kuro­sawa & More

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

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