Illustrations of his films: Anna Karenina

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A scene from the film ‘Anna Karenina’ with Daffy as Alexis and Maralinga as Anna.  The film used the stylized look of iconic Russian Boxes to create a flat  and deliberately unrealistic look. The sets were deliberately created to be ‘flat’ and stylized.  The seasons moved from frozen winter to spring and summer as their love waxes. Then winter closes in as their love freezes. Anna perishes, a suicide, during a snowy train scene.  The film is showed in ‘flashbacks’. The film opens and closes  in gritty grey battle scenes of the Russian Revolution as Anna’s world implodes into grimy violence and anarchy.  As Alexis flees Communists he hides out in a ruined inn frozen over and half buried in snow which he realizes is the inn where he first meets Anna.  Then the flashbacks play out the actual doomed romance.

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And example of the highly stylized art used to inspire the look of the film. Because Maralinga did not want to wear the historic couture (except for romantic fairy tale clothing) Daffy moved the date to just before WWI  as Russia is staggering and stumbling into a disastrous war. This added tension of the approaching doom to their love affair as well as upgrading Karenin to a workaholic desperately trying to prevent a war while causes him to neglect a bored and unhappy Anna who then turns to a handsome soldier she meets in an inn during a snow storm.  Their love affair is played out in front of bored courtiers and a distant and aloof court incapable of governing effectively as Russia unravels.

Another example of the Russian box art that inspired the highly stylized look of the film.

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Another Russian box that inspired the winter effects for the film.

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The Move titles pay out over the apparently raising sun of the Russian Empire of the Czars which is a jeweled box.

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The film opens in gritty grey for violent action scenes of  the Russian Civil War. The extremely violent scenes are also a sop for husbands dragged to a ‘woman’s film’ by their wives. They get 35 minutes in an opening and closing scene of war  plus a  darling motorcycle stunt as it  races  a train to escape the  Communist Reds.

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The battle fodder of Russia on the fag end of a disastrous world war followed by revolution.

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The approaching war time train that echos another train that will approach the doomed Anna. The unknown soldier is fleeing Red soldiers on a motorcycle. The mysterious soldier leaps his cycle across the train tracks just ahead of the train as it plows through snow to escape the Reds.

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The example of the black and white stenciled to add touches of fairy tale color.

Then  the film  shows the grimy soldier finding the ruins of a show covered ruined inn and hiding out. Snow is inside as well as outside. the grimy soldier is obviously suffering from hypothermia and frost bite. He cannot sleep for the fear of slipping into death from the cold.  His grimy, battle scarred face recognizes something. Then the film  ‘flashes back’ to the more romantic and stylized scenes of the doomed love affair which is told like a Russian fairytale complete with many costumes that were deliberately antiquated to echo fairy tales.  The opening black and white scenes morph to warm  sepia tones or rich golden tones with stenciled colors of the seasons: pink spring flowers, lush red roses, autumn browns and golds, then gleaming winter crystal.

The flashbacks are told in tandem with images of the Snow Queen . In the Snow Queen fairy story  the lovers are cleft in twain by the icy Snow Queen who freezes the heart of the boy with a crystal of ice. So Anna sees Alexis’ love frozen by a crystal of ice as the consequences of their affair ruins his military career and loses Anna her son when Karenin divorces her as an immoral woman. The Snow Queen appears to threaten Anna with the freezing cold of her loveless life as the film plays out.  The Snow Queen becomes as symbol of Anna’s desperation for love in a cold and loveless world. The Snow Queen become Anna’s nemesis as her love for Karenin turns to icy hate  and then her love for Alexis turns to icy hate.  Anna dies in a snowy train station as she sees her alter ego the Snow Queen across the train tracks between the flickers of the train as it rumbles across the screen.  The Snow Queen goads Anna into committing suicide.

Likewise, the Snow Queen, the symbol of the hypothermia that is killing the gaunt soldier,  haunts the flashbacks as the soldier, now revealed to be Alexis. Alexis is fascinated by snowflakes, ice crystals, and the magic of ice storms as they transform the world from the mundane to a snowy and icy wonderland of crystal and magic which is filmed in stencil colors or two strip technicolor to contrast with the sepia tones of ‘reality’.  He  dreams of the technicolor Snow Queen at key points in the film including a frightening scene of wolves racing across the snow to catch his troika who turn into the Snow Queen’s Werewolf lovers.  As his love for Anna freezes he dreams more intoxicating colored dreams of the Snow Queen’s icy dream kingdom  which is as magical as the sepia tone Anna increasingly is simply nagging, bitter, and resentful. Because the flashbacks are dream like, the visions of a dying man fighting hypothermia, they assume the quality of both a dream and increasingly a nightmare.

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The camera cuts to the now rosy glow of the warm peasant inn where the train travelers are stranded by an ice storm. Anna is siting alone bored and cold. A mysterious man appears in a flurry of snow from an icy nighttime landscape.

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Glad that he has escaped the clutches of a fatal ice storm, Alexis laughs as he greets the peasant owners and dances with the peasants, perfectly at home and good humored. The owner of the inn praises Alexis for escaping the fatal embrace of the Snow Queen. The wife of the inn owner reminds Alexis that anyone who is ‘kissed’ by the Snow Queen three times dies to this world and is entrapped forever in the icy realm of the Snow Queen forever. Alexis laughs that the Snow Queen will never catch him because he loves life too much to surrender to snowy death. The other pompous  railroad travelers appear stiff and angry at being stranded by the snow storm  at a rural ‘hovel’ which is decked out in charming peasant fantasy. The warm fire is cleverly stenciled in amazing reds and golds to accent its life saving warmth.

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A Russian box that shows the style the film displayed.

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Alexis sees Anna and tries to flirt but she is cold as ice.

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There is only one bedroom left and he gestures flip a coin for it. She is not amused.  The landlord gives the room to Alexis who finally surrenders the room to the cold aristocrat after a sexual pass she frostily rejects. Anna seems as icy as the Snow Queen. or the Snow Maiden of fairy tales. The room appears suddenly cold grey.

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Alexis has a flash back to his mother who was an frigid courtier much like Anna.

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Alexis’ mother simmers into  magical color …..

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Alexis is a scared little boy …..looking up at his distant mother standing at the top of the grand staircase.

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Alexis’  distant mother ignores his cries and disappears….

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crystal ‘snow’  appears …..

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…. as more magical ‘snow appears….

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…as the magical snow freezes and then cracks ……

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…as the magical snow cracks apart to reveal the technicolor grand staircase …..

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As the Snow Queen imperially descends….

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…as her train freezes the grand staircase into a magical fairy tale world …..

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…as the Snow Queen looks down at Alexis the small boy who adores her…..

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….and the Snow Queen is like his mother yet far more beautiful …… and inviting ……

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before blurring for a moment into another face…..

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….which changes to sepia tone…… and then dissolves into the cold Anna standing in the cold room waiting for Alexis to leave her alone……

Daffy Gilbert- Blackheart who also wrote the screenplay studied Sigmund Freud and his theory of the Oedipus complex  which states that every boy falls sexually in love with mother  only to transfer those repressed and taboo emotions onto another women. The montage of images has reinforced the psychological basis of Alexis’ love of the cold, distant, and aloof Anna: as a substitute for his cold, distant, and aloof mother who echos the cold, distant, and aloof Snow Queen which is the psychological symbol of both Alexis’ emotionally cold upbringing and also the hypothermia slowly killing the grim soldier as he half relives and half dreams these vivid flashbacks. But while Alexis’ mother rejects her little boy and Anna likewise rejects Alexis, the Snow Queen is seductive because she is a mythic collector of lost boys who are not loved and also lost men who cannot find love. The Snow Queen becomes more seductive in the flashbacks as the grimy soldier fights the freezing effects of hypothermia, struggling not to fall into unconsciousness in the embrace of freezing death. So the flashbacks both show Alexis’ struggle to stay alive and also his struggle to find the warmth of love which his cold and barren childhood and remote mother and absentee father denied him.

Alexis resumes dancing with the warm sepia tone peasants at home with the Russian Heartland. The sepia tones intensify to golden and ends with a closeup of the warm fire that is stenciled to appear to be ruddy red and gold.  Can Alexis melt the Snow Maiden who is Anna? Can Anna give Alexis the passion that his cold and  lonely boyhood denied him? And will reliving his past keep the grim soldier awake and therefore alive through the freezing night so he can live to escape the Reds?

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The camera cuts to a close up of the faded sepia sign celebrating the 300 centennial of the Czar.

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The camera pulls back to the faded sepia  facade of the Heritage as the glittering veil of the Snow Queen ‘swipes’ across it to transform it into shimmering two strip technicolor.

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The camera closes into the now technicolor image of the Heritage as  the Snow Queen walks across the screen.

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The Snow Queen sweeps across the screen leaving an icy wonderland behind and …..

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…..and her icy train leaves the symbol of the 300 years of the Romanov dynasty in icy ruins as forewarning of the fall of the Czars.

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The camera pans to the famous Hermitage Arch as richly dressed courtiers enter for a grand ball. The sepia tones changes as…..

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The Snow Queen’s handkerchief sweeps across the screen….

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…and the Snow Queen transforms the sepia world of the Czar into her own magical world of two strip technicolor…..

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And the Snow Queen rules….. until the camera moves inside the rich  but again sepia tone Heritage and up the grand staircase to the fantastical costume ballroom scene. The Czar and Czarina sit in a stylized set of flat cutout images of ghostly courtiers dressed in fading grandeur as fairy tale Russians. It is both magical and ghostly as if the Romanov World has always become a ghost it is doomed to become.

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Rasputin appears. He is the mad monk whose hold over the Czarina is disgracing the royal family in the eyes of the unraveling Russian nation. He is dressed as the Mad March Hare.

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“Beware the ice breaking Alexis!” the mad monk tells Alexis in a forewarning of the final scene of the film. He raps the marble which then shimmers like the ice of a frozen lake.

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.”….beware falling through the ice into the Kingdom of the Snow Queen…..

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….it appears to be so beautiful ……

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…and magically appealing…..

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….and her ice castle might seem so very inviting……

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…..and inviting….. so inviting…..

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….and it might seem like the palace where your mother lived……

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….but the Snow Queen is not your lost mother Alexis……

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…and while the palace of the Snow Queen might appear to be so very magical …….

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….. and the Snow Queen might appear to be the most beautiful woman in the world……

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You must beware her! She collects lost boys who grow up to become lost men. Men  who spent their lonely childhoods neglected and friendless at cold boarding schools  who spent their lonely hours alone in cold rooms peering through microscopes at snowflakes…….

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….savoring their cold perfection in a lonely and imperfect world ……

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….. as they long to be rescued and loved ….. by someone…. anyone. The Snow Queen  collects  the lonely and the heart broken…. especially lonely children who grow up to become lonely men…..

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….lonely men who long for the red rose of passion to warm their frozen lives and heal the wounds of their lonely childhoods…..

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…..filling the void of their cold lives with the throbbing blood of passion such as they have never known…..

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…..but the Snow Queen freezes the passion of the human heart …..

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…. but her icy beauty  freezes love …. for her icy magic is brittle and cracks …….

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…as it transforms the real world into cold night….. .

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…and while the frozen rose kissed by the ice of the Snow Queen  appears so tempting to pluck……

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…and while you might fancy that the magic of the frozen rose symbolizes love that you can keep forever perfect, never  withering, never dying. …….

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… must beware any rose kissed by the Snow Queen. For splinters of her  ice crystals can pierce the eye and pierce the heart. Then the real world suddenly looks as ugly and flawed and unforgivably imperfect as her magical world looks beautiful and flawless and utterly perfect. And then the tender lover becomes an unforgiving and cruel lover as the red rose of his passion shatters into shards of ice.

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…You have a  lonely heart Alexis …… a wounded heart…..

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…you long to find the red rose of true love with another…..

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…so love will blossom to cure your wounded heart….

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….but beware Alexis. Beware the kiss of the Snow Queen! For her kiss will freeze your wounded heart into cruelty….

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…and the kiss of the Snow Queen will lock away all  love …..

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….the kiss of the Snow  Queen locking away the pain of your  wounded  heart  ……the blood of passion clotting…..freezing …… into unfeeling coldness …..

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…as the kiss of the Snow Queen locks away  all passion from your  heart……

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….and while you might thinks the pain of your wounded heart is healing —- it is really being iced over and frozen shut……

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…..and so the kiss of the Snow Queen as if magical  ice crystals pierces the eye and heart and freezes love….. and finally kills love……

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….until all that is left is the icy perfection of her frozen allure. ‘Come to me! Love me! Love me alone!’

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So she snares her lovers to her icy bosom  eternally ……….

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….The world is falling into snowy death Alexis. The end is near. Snatch at love when you still can…… real love….. ripe and red and  real…… before you fall through the ice…

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….before the ice breaks and swallows up the world….”

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Then the Mad Monk gestures. Behold! Anna is standing alone. Alexis recognizes his icy Snow Maiden.

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An example of the Snow Maiden in Russian fairy stories.

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For a moment the sepia tones faintly echo the green fairy costume that the Snow Maiden traditionally wears.

“Snatch at love while you still can! For the end of the world is near!”

Alexis approaches Anna  to ask her to dance. Bored, Anna agrees. They waltz around the stylized ballroom as the floor shimmers as if a frozen lake. It is the same frozen lake where the last scene of the film occurs.

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Anna and Alexis fall in love as Karenin accidentally sees them and is devastated.

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Karenin decides to try to save his marriage to Anna.

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But Anna she rejects his advances. ‘No!’

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Anna and Alexis in the warm sepia spring of their love as the snow melted and the pastels of spring gave way to the red roses of hot summer.

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Faberge eggs, boxes, frames, and jewels were blown up and used instead of realistic settings to highlight the stylized look. Red roses are stenciled red for the summer garden scenes.

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As the fairy tale couture of the ball room scene gives way to real dress Daffy  naturally dressed in correct military couture. Maralinga’s couture drifted across the map from 1912 to 1920.  Maralinga did not want to wear correct historic dress or endure corsets. Of course the supporting players wore somewhat more correct female attire. But today Maralinga’s refusal to wear correct couture confuses and irritates viewers. But the designers gave the couture a highly stylized look. Because the film’s flashbacks are deliberately stylized the incorrect couture does not effect the film over all.

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‘Let me feed off your love’ Maralinga’s Anna cries to Alexis as she embraces the intoxicating red roses of their passion.  The roses are stenciled in brilliant reds and in later contrasting scenes the red roses ‘bleed’ as petals drop to the floor while Anna and Karenin quarrel  over the impact of  her affair.

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Their unhappy son grabs the roses he knows Alexis brought for his mother and tears them to pieces while the thorns prick him. The impact of the affair is shown in a montage of increasingly bitter scenes between the husband and wife as the son is torn by conflicting loyalty between his father and mother. The boy  finally goes feral as children of divorce often go.

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Anna asks for a divorce but Karenin mimes with an elegant gesture the conditions of their marriage: a son and heir in exchange for his status and wealth for Anna. It is too late to change the conditions of the marriage. And Karenin fears the unraveling of their only son as the marriage implodes. As far as Karenin is concerned, Anna is a threat to the child. When asked if he would grant her a divorce and give her the child he pauses….. for an cinematic eternity ……. before saying ‘No’.

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The first love scene features red roses of summer passion and the roses barely obscure the implied naked love making. But autumn golds and reds warn of the approach of winter as well as the approach of war.

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Their love affair is exposed during a near fatal racing event. Maralinga overacts while Pendragon’s Karenin and W S Surrey masterfully underacts. Anna betrays her passions and the lovers become the target of gossip. Alexis is warned by his commander he is risking his career as war approaches ever closer. Meanwhile Anna is arrogantly defiant even as events unravel. Her unraveling echos the unraveling of the impotent court as world events lung out of control.

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Karenin confronts the lovers in Alexis’ apartment. “I was willing to endue this for the sake of our child but really Anna! This has become too much of a farce!” Anna grabs’ Alexis’ military gun and waves it wildly as if goading the two men to fight. Karenin laughs at the idea which is so absurd he does not even bother to entertain it. The look of cold contempt is naked on his face. Alexis and Anna had been found naked in bed by Karenin.  Alexis hurriedly puts on a dressing gown his humiliation is obvious. It is as if he is symbolically castrated.

He looks into  a mirror at the reflections of  Karenin and the hysterical Anna threatening each other.  For a moment the mirror ( a trick mirror) shows a brief image of the ethereal Snow Queen reflected over the reflection of an unraveling Anna. Thus the first hint of disillusionment appears symbolically in Alexis. The symbolic first ‘kiss’ of the Snow Queen.

After Karenin departs Anna unravels hysterically as Alexis dresses in his best uniform to compensate for his loss of face. It is clear that Anna wanted Alexis and Karenin to  fight and die.  Her love is turning to hatred for both men. Love & Hatred is mixed fatally in Anna. Her demons are goading her on toward her ultimate death.

Alexis reacts coldly.  He knows that unless Karenin agrees to fight a duel he will be ruined in the military and of course Karenin would be a fool to fight a duel and won’t —- and Alexis knows it. Without a duel Alexis is a dishonorable cad.  Alexis knows they are about to be ruined by Petersburg society. He weights the costs as one hand weighs  Anna’s tossed wedding ring on a scale against his metals. Anna is furious that Alexis did not shoot Karenin. She is clearly unraveling as their passion leads them to ruin. While Anna is willing to wager all for Love & Hatred Alexis is suddenly seen as more wary and suddenly cold.

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Alexis is guilt stricken but also humiliated and  suddenly wary. Anna is terrified of losing Alexis and losing her son. She can have the love of her son or her lover but not both. Yet she is also increasingly reckless at the same time. Alexis sees Karenin to try to strike a deal. It fails when the jealous son interrupts to accuse his mother’s lover of loving Alexis over him and abandoning him.

Alexis is devastated as flashbacks of his own childhood replay in his mind. Like this boy, Alexis childhood was ruined by his father’s affairs and his mother’s bitter jealousy. Alexis has become his father just as Anna has symbolically become his mother.

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Alexis leaves  to do business on his country estate in lush autumn. He needs to decide if he should stop the affair before it destroys everyone. At the estate he relives his lonely past caused by the breakdown of his parent’s marriage. Life is repeating itself.

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Alexis rides  back to Petersburg during an ice storm that echoed the ice storm where he met Anna. He is attacked by wolves who appear to morph into the infamous werewolf lovers of the Snow Queen.

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One of the jealous werewolf lovers of the Snow Queen  accuses Alexis of stealing the love of the Snow Queen from him. “She said she love me as well! She collects lovers as if snowflakes! But I won’t let you become her new favorite!” Alexis and the werewolf fight and Alexis slays him.

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The ice storm  generated by the Snow Queen  transforms the warm golds of autumn to magical ice and snow crystals  in a series of wonderful special effects.

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‘How much more beautiful winter is!” Alexis tells himself. “Nothing is ugly or imperfect. Everything is perfectly beautiful! Like the ice crystals I used to admire as a lonely child at boarding school! Only ice crystals are perfect. The real world is so fatally flawed!”

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Alexis sees a bobbing red rose and plucks it. The ice has  turned the rose to diamond and crystal. “I will give this frozen rose to Anna to show our undying love” Alexis tells himself as if to reassure himself that their love is not dying.

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But a  splinter of ice from the ice frozen rose pierces his eye and  heart. It is the second symbolic ‘kiss’ of the Snow Queen. The undying rose shatters as if glass.  Alexis  returns to town resolved to end the affair which is ruining both his career and Anna’s standing in the cliquish community.

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“Our affair is doomed and will be the ruin of both of us. Anna cannot bare to lose her son and I cannot afford to ruin my military career. Karenin is not even the villain. He is trying to keep Russia out of this approaching war. To be honest the villain of this sordid drama is myself!”

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“If I was an honorable man I would shoot myself as the cur I am. I stole another man’s wife and ruined his marriage exactly as my own father stole another man’s wife and died in a duel leaving my mother bitter and loathing the sight of me.

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“And Anna is unraveling as our love turns to anger and hatred as all illicit love affairs must end. This love affair can only end in Anna’s ruin.

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“I can’t endure any more scenes such as the last one. I can’t endure seeing Anna unravel into a hysterical woman or myself into a heartless cad.”

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“Poor Anna! All alone! But I can salvage her marriage if I do the right thing and renounce her. Karenin surely does not want a public and humiliating divorce! If only for the sake of the child!”

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“Someone has to see sense! Do the sensible thing! I am only thinking of Anna!”

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“Karenin is not a bad man. Perhaps not dashing and passionate but he is sensible and fair!”

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“I am not condemning Anna to a cold and loveless marriage” Alexis tells himself as he arrives back at Petersburg transformed into a wintery place. After all, she will still have her son…..”

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But Anna has crossed the Rubicon and burned her bridges. The lovers are stuck with each other as their world turns back into ice and now. Anna is bitter and desperate. Alexis is bitter and icy.

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“Where can we go Anna? Petersburg is my career and your son’s home! And while I can survive you will not be forgiven by this heartless city!”

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“Russia  is not world! For God’s sake take me away from this freezing place before my heart breaks!” But Anna does not know the Snow Queen had already frozen Alexis’ eye and heart with two symbolic ‘kisses’. The third ‘kiss’ will steal Alexis away to the Snow Queen’s realm forever.

The now uneasy lovers flee the icy scandal of Petersburg for warm Venice but their love unravels. Anna is guilty over her son. Alexis reads the headlines about the approaching war and feels he is a coward to not be preparing to fight with his regiment. Society gawks at them cynically. Their love has become a side show.

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“War is coming Anna! I have to go back and beg my commander to allow me to fight alongside my regiment! Otherwise, I will be a coward!”

“But what will become of me then? I sacrificed everything for you!”

“So did I! The difference is I did not ask you to sacrifice everything!”

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The Lovers attend a disastrous  mask ball but feel as if everyone is gossiping about them.

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The lovers feel out of place and ridiculed at the masked ball. Their old Petersburg fairy tale costumes seem shabby now and unraveling like their tattered love.

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They see  the Snow Queen grandly sweeping past them as all bow before her. She looks Alexis directly in the eye as Anna shivers. The face of Anna morphs into the Snow Queen who is now so beautiful while Anna is withering from lack of love.

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Alexis dreams of riding his troika to the magical palace of the Snow Queen as she woos him to join her many lovers, both small boys and men. All lonely and starved for love. But when Alexis sees his face in the mirror morph into a Werewolf he shatters the mirror as icy splinters of glass shatter surreally across the screen.

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He wakes to hear Anna crying as she injects herself with morphine to dull the pain of her life.  The bitter lovers decide to return to Petersberg to salvage their lives and love affair.

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The lovers return to snowy and oddly ghostly  Petersburg as their love freezes.There are riots and jarring headlines of a city unraveling.

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….even as the army is being called out and the Czar inspects his army in the pale snow.

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The lovers  are cold shouldered by everyone. Anna cannot see her son but a telling line ‘Since we have come back Anna you have not looked on our baby once’ says she is freezing out Alexis and their child. Karenin is desperate to stop the war as regiments are called out. Alexis is desperate to rejoin his regiment which he can only do if he abandons Anna. Anna  is increasingly unstable and dependent on morphine. Karenin confronts her bitterly and tells her to stay away from their son who is exiled to a lonely school. “It is not so much that I consider you an immoral woman Anna as something far more dangerous! An irresponsible and unstable woman!’ Karenin says. “I am simply protecting my son from an obvious danger! You!”

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Alexis is guilty for Anna and her poor son. Alexis recalls his own lonely school life as a rejected boy of a failed marriage and a remote mother.

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Alexis recalls how friendless and cold he felt at the school and how his only solace was studying snowflakes under the microscope. The magical snow flakes seemed to form his name as if the Snow Queen was calling him to come to her. Alexis stares out of a window covered by ice crystals that seem to spell out his name as if the Snow Queen is calling out to him.

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In a dream Alexis sees his cold mother’s face morph into  Anna’s face which morphs into the face of the Snow Queen. The black and white face then slowly morphs into pale two strip technicolor as if Anna is fading away as her doppelganger the Snow Queen grows more and more alive and seductive.

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The Snow Queen is calling Alexis to her.  He becomes more cold toward Anna who turns to the solace of morphine instead of their baby. Alexis arranges for a peasant to nurse it as memories come back how he was likewise abandoned by his cold mother.  He looks at her portrait and it morphs into the Snow Queen. ‘Perhaps I am the type of man who is destined to never feel the warmth of love’ he says to the portrait.

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Alexis announces he must pack Anna and their baby off to his country estate so he can join his regiment for the coming war. Anna becomes hysterical. The lovers visit a nightclub  but the other guests know of their scandalous love affair and stare at them with contempt.

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Anna shivers with the icy disapproval but Alexis demands that  they dance. They waltz to brazen it out. This waltz  echos the first  ball room waltz when they first  fell in love. But now the dance is jerky and hateful. Alexis is bitter and cold. Anna is hysterical. They have a scene as cold onlookers stare at them with contempt.

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Anna starts to unravel into a complete breakdown as Alexis reacts icy.

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Anna rushes out into the snowy night as Alexis confronts her.  “We are stuck with each other Anna! All we can do is grit our teeth and endure  the ruin of our love even as it turns to hatred. At least don’t give them the satisfaction of seeing us fall to pieces!” Anna claws his face between each line of dialogue  and runs off like a wounded animal into the devouring snow storm.

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Anna stands like a ghost at the train station. Her veil flutters as it renders her into a ghost. ‘They shoot horses don’t they!’ she mutters coldly to other travelers who ignore her.  The train is coming and her veil blows off as if a shroud.  Her face is full of cold fury, icy hatred, chilling arrogance, and wounded pride.

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She sees the Snow Queen across the tracks between the flickers of each carriage of the train.  The lights of the passing train flicker across her ravished  face. Then suddenly Anna is gone. She has jumped under the train.  People scream.

The flashback ends with Alexis in the snowy ruin of the once quaint inn. Alexis is haggard and scarred by war, grimy, bearded, and desperate. He decides to go back to the headquarters where a teenager from a nearby private military school  is trying to organize a last battle against the Communists. The young teenager is Anna’s bitter young son. The very callow young teenager loathes Alexis but Alexis is guilty enough to stay for the battle.

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The battle is waged on a frozen lake which echos in the mind of Alexis.

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The battle careens into  a disaster as a callow boy leads a cavalry charge across  a frozen lake. Red machine guns mow down the tattered remains of the once glorious  White Guard cavalry  and blood spatters the ice as the lake breaks and swallows up the ruins of the Romanov World of Anna. Alexis falls in battle and dies in the snow as a closeup shows his  bloody hand writhing before turning limp in the  pristine snow.

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Slowly the bloody hand is covered by magical snow flakes as if a snowy shroud. The Snow Queen symbolically ‘kisses’ the dying hand. It is the third kiss. And so the Snow Queen sweeps the dying man away and Alexis dwells in the magic icy palace of the Snow Queen forever…..

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the film cuts to a ghostly silhouette  of Peterberg as cutouts of the dead Czar, Czarina, and dead courtiers one by one appear as if pasted onto scene as if ghosts ……

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The scene fads into a silhouette  of a man looking into a grove of trees at the golden rays of a setting sun stylized  as if the rays of a Faberge  box.

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The credits to end the film roll as the Romanov sun ‘set’s forever.


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