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Teacher's Guide [imagemap with 6 links]

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Episode I

Plot Synopsis
Anna Karenina, the wife of a prominent government official in the Russian capital of St. Petersburg, travels by train to Moscow to pay a visit to her brother, Stiva Oblonsky, and his wife, Dolly. Stiva has been unfaithful to Dolly with their children's governess, and Anna hopes to help reconcile the couple. En route, she travels with the Countess Vronskaya and meets her son, Alexey Vronsky. Though they meet only briefly, Anna and Vronsky are fascinated with one another.

At the same time, Constantine Levin arrives in Moscow from his country estate with the intention of proposing marriage to Kitty Scherbatsky, Dolly's sister. He proposes, but Kitty turns him down because she is infatuated with Vronsky, who has been a frequent and attentive visitor at the Scherbatsky home. Levin is devastated, and returns home to the country to throw himself into his work on the estate.

Anna and Kitty attend a society ball, where Vronsky dances with them both. His attentions to Anna are painful to Kitty, and Anna and Vronsky make their mutual attraction obvious. They kiss, and Anna determines she will return to St. Petersburg to her husband and son and forget him. Vronsky follows her on the train home and declares his feelings for her, more convinced he can win her over after meeting her cool-mannered husband, Karenin, at the station. Vronsky seeks her out at every opportunity and invites her to come to him. Despite her resolve and reservations, Anna goes to his apartment and becomes his lover.

Levin works the harvest at his farm and tries to find satisfaction and meaning in his life without Kitty. She has been ill, in misery over Vronsky's rejection of her and her rejection of Levin, who she now knows she loves. Levin sees her pass in a carriage and realizes that his love for her is the center of his life. He avoids her in the country, fearing rejection. Back in Moscow the next season, however, they meet, and Levin proposes to her and is accepted.

Anna and Vronsky carry on their affair in St. Petersburg, meeting at the home of Vronsky's aristocratic cousin Betsy. Hearing gossip, Karenin observes them there and warns Anna to behave in a more socially acceptable way. Anna, now pregnant, sees that Karenin cares only for appearances, and confesses her love for Vronsky to her husband. Instead of leaving or divorcing her, Karenin insists Anna stay in the marriage and not see Vronsky in their home. He tells her she cannot leave him and have any hope of seeing her son, Seriozha, again. Anna continues her affair with Vronsky, but finds her situation unbearable.

Anna nearly dies after giving birth to a daughter, and in a state of delirium she calls for Karenin and asks his forgiveness, saying it was "another Anna, not your Anna" who gave her heart to Vronsky. Karenin, stripped for the moment of his concern with social opinion, feels deep compassion and forgives her. Anna calls Vronsky into the room and insists that the two men reconcile. They grasp hands. Vronsky, in despair, returns to his apartment and attempts suicide.

Suggested Viewing Segments
Day 1
43 minutes
Start: Episode opening
End: Anna, on horseback, calls to her son

Day 2
36 minutes
Start: Princess Betsy's
End: Levin fights with his brother Nikolai

Day 3
33 minutes
Start: Anna and Karenin at breakfast
End: Conclusion of episode


Episode II

Plot Synopsis
Levin and Kitty prepare for their wedding. Levin, who struggles with his faith in God, must take confession. He resolves to tell Kitty about all his past sins. Still amazed that she could love him, he offers to let her back out, but she refuses, and they marry. The couple create a home together in the country, and Kitty surprises Levin with her strength as she attends to his dying brother, Nikolai, in a squalid hotel in a remote town. In Moscow, after a long labor, Kitty gives birth to a son.

Anna, recovered from illness, is miserable at home with her husband, despite his acts of forgiveness and devotion. Karenin offers her a divorce, but she cannot accept the disgrace it will cause him. She leaves the country with Vronsky and their young daughter. The three live together in Italy but soon return to St. Petersburg. In her absence, Karenin's attitude toward his wife hardens under the influence of Countess Lydia, who now runs his household. She convinces Karenin to deny Anna's request to see her son. Anna sneaks into the house on Seriozha's birthday, but must leave when Karenin comes in. While Vronsky is welcomed in St. Petersburg society, Anna is shunned. Her isolation and her yearning for her son leave her in despair and subject to fits of anger and jealousy.

Anna becomes increasingly desperate, demanding Vronsky's constant presence and taking opium while awaiting word from Karenin about a divorce. He tells Stiva a divorce would be wrong under God's law, and Anna becomes convinced that Vronsky is preparing to leave her for a society princess his mother favors. Her mental state deteriorates, and she follows Vronsky to the country by train. Arriving at the station, certain she has been abandoned by Vronsky, she throws herself onto the train tracks between two moving cars.

After Anna's death, Vronsky and Levin meet at the Moscow station. Vronsky has volunteered to fight in the Balkans in a conflict between Balkan Serbs and the ruling Turks. He no longer wishes to live. Shaken by the encounter, Levin returns home to Kitty, her family, and his infant son. He pauses to appreciate the richness of his own life, and Kitty reassures him that, despite his uncertainties, he is a good man.

Suggested Viewing Segments
Day 1
36 minutes
Start: Episode opening
End: Anna and Vronsky in the gallery

Day 2
35 minutes
Start: Levin and Kitty with Nikolai
End: Levin and Stiva leave Anna's apartment

Day 3
41 minutes
Start: Anna and Vronsky argue
End: Conclusion of episode


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