Anna Karenina

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Short takes

Not recommended under 15; parental guidance to 15 (disturbing scenes, adult themes, sex scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Anna Karenina
  • a review of Anna Karenina completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 18 February 2013.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 15 Not recommended due to disturbing scenes, adult themes, and sex scenes
Children aged 15 Parental guidance recommended due to disturbing scenes, adult themes, and sex scenes.
Children over the age of 15 Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Anna Karenina
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes, sex scenes and brief gore
Length: 130 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Anna Karenina is a film version of the Tolstoy classic.  Set in late 19th Century Russia, it tells the tumultuous story of Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley), a married aristocrat and mother who is an active part of the Russian high society.  During a visit to her brother Stiva (Matthew MacFadyen), Anna meets the handsome and alluring Count Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) who becomes infatuated with her.  The two begin a forbidden and passionate affair at the expense of Anna’s marriage to the well-known politician Karenin (Jude Law) and her reputation.  When Anna refuses to cease her affair she is forced to choose between a life of love or of obligation.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Infidelity; suicide

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • A man is seen jumping under a train.  The crushed body with blood and gore is seen.
  • A woman jumps in front of a train.  Her bloodstained body is seen afterwards.
  • During a horse race Vronsky and his horse fall.  The horse is seen writhing in pain and the audience is told that he has broken his back.  Vronsky is thrown from the horse but is unharmed.  The horse is shot and killed by Vronsky.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Children in this age group are likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes of suicide and the death of a horse

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Anna is forced to leave the marital home and leave her son with her husband.  The son is distressed and looks fearful at being left with his father. 
  • As Anna becomes very depressed, she is seen to be irrational and paranoid.  For some viewers this may cause distress.
  • A man is seen dying of an illness.  He is cared for and washed, but seen to be in significant pain.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Two scenes where Karenin is seen getting birth control in preparation for sex.
  • Multiple scenes of passionate kissing between adults
  • Reference to a prostitute, and her place in society
  • Reference to people having affairs

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • There are a number of sex scenes throughout the movie, depicted through close shots of kissing and skin
  • There is one scene where Anna and Vronsky are seen naked together.  Vronsky’s bare buttocks are seen

Use of substances

There is substance use in this movie, including:

  • Almost all adult characters are seen smoking throughout the movie
  • There are many scenes where wine and spirits are being drunk 
  • One man is seen drinking vodka to excess and his constant drinking is referred to
  • Anna uses morphine to cope with her depression

Coarse language

None of concern

In a nutshell

Anna Karenina is the latest cinematic interpretation of this Tolstoy classic story about forbidden love and its consequences.

The main messages from this movie are about love and the many forms it comes in, the many complexities that it holds and its many possible consequences.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Being true to yourself
  • Commitment to your convictions

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as.

  • The Russian Revolution and its effect on people who were part of the aristocracy
  • Why was the societal disgrace a bigger concern for Anna than it was for Vronsky?  How much did society influence women and their actions in these times?