Anna Karenina is a cinematic version of the classic novel by Tolstoy. Set in late 19th-century Russia, it tells the tumultuous story of Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley). Anna is a married aristocrat, mother and active member of Russian high society. During a visit to her brother Stiva (Matthew MacFadyen), Anna meets the handsome and alluring Count Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Vronsky becomes infatuated with Anna. They begin a forbidden and passionate affair at the expense of Anna’s marriage to well-known politician Karenin (Jude Law). Her reputation is also damaged. When Anna refuses to stop the affair, she must choose between a life of love or of obligation.


Infidelity; suicide


This movie has some violence. For example:

  • A man jumps under a train. The scene shows the man’s crushed body, with blood and gore.
  • A woman jumps in front of a train. The scene shows her bloodstained body afterwards.
  • During a horse race Vronsky and his horse fall. The horse writhes in pain because it has broken its back. Vronsky is thrown from the horse, but he isn’t hurt. Vronsky shoots and kills the horse.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

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

From 5-8

In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:

  • Anna is forced to leave the home she shares with her husband. She must also leave her son with her husband. Her son is upset and looks worried about being left with his father.
  • As Anna becomes very depressed, she gets irrational and paranoid. This might be upsetting for some viewers.
  • A man is dying. He is cared for and washed, but he is in lots of pain. 

From 8-13

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

Over 13

Younger children in this age group might also be disturbed by the scenes mentioned above. 

Sexual references

This movie has some sexual references. For example:

  • Two scenes show Karenin getting birth control in preparation for having sex.
  • Many scenes show adults kissing passionately.
  • Someone talks about a prostitute and the prostitute’s place in society.
  • People talk about other people having affairs. 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

This movie shows some substance use. For example:

  • Almost all adult characters smoke.
  • Many scenes show characters drinking wine and spirits.
  • One man drinks too much vodka. Other characters talk about his constant drinking.
  • Anna uses morphine to cope with her depression. 

Nudity and sexual activity

This movie has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • There are several sex scenes, shown through close shots of kissing and skin.
  • In one scene Anna and Vronsky are naked together. Vronsky’s bare buttocks are seen. 

Product placement

None of concern 

Coarse language

None of concern 

Ideas to discuss with your children

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

The main messages from this movie are about love and its many forms, complexities and possible consequences.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include:

  • being true to yourself
  • standing up for what you believe in.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues such as:

  • the Russian Revolution and its effect on people who were part of the aristocracy
  • the different effects of social disgrace on Anna and Vronsky. How much did social expectations influence women and their actions in those times?