Seeing Tolstoy's great novel set to dance was a dream of Maya Plisetskaya, but she encountered endless difficulties in finding a choreographer either able or willing to take on the challenge. Never one to be easily discouraged, Plisetskaya set 'Anna Karenina' herself. Though she had previously choreographed a short work for a Czech tour, this was her major choreographed debut. Utilizing her own dazzling talents as dancer and actress, she created a work of stunning dramatic impact. Public and critical acclaim were immediate. The theatricality of Plisetskaya's creation is matched by Rodion Shchedrin's compelling score, and, for the film, the directorial talents of Margarita Pilikhina. This was Pilikhina's final work. She was already in the final stages of cancer during the filming and did not live to finish it. Clips from the rough cuts were used to complete the film.