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Anna Karenina, the Film

18 Mar

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The 2012 Anna Karenina is visually masterful and dramatically potent. Director Joe Wright‘s film adheres to Tolstoy‘s novel, but moves at a clip. Viewers get all the essential with out all many of the details of the masterpiece. It’s a good introduction to a must-read book. If you only watch the film, you won’t get all the details of life in the country-side and the social issues of the late 19th century. You will get the passion and momentum of a woman caught up in a scandalous affair, though the film moves so fast that you don’t get the full sense of the isolation she feels when she moves with Vronsky to the country.

The film’s strength for me was it the gorgeous visuals. Wright presents a different world, a story set on a stage much of the time, a stage that transports us and contains Anna’s world. I kept thinking of Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage . . . ” line. I’m sure I was meant to.

I read the book years ago and loved it. Anna Karenina is the story of a young, passionate woman married to a stern, coldly traditional man, who isn’t bad, but just has no idea how to love. Anna meets a dashing officer, Vronsky. Their paths cross in Moscow and though part of her wants to avoid an affair that will not only destroy her marriage, but will break the heart of Kitty, a young relative of hers by marriage, she can’t help it. (From Anna’s point of view she can’t. That’s debatable, of course.)

Vronsky and Anna aren’t good at hiding their love and in this society that will cost a woman everything. Bravo to Jude Law who plays Anna’s husband in a way that makes him complex. He’s technically in the right, but he does so in such a wrong way, he just does not understand his wife and probably never did. Karenina can’t help himself and while you sympathize, you know he’s making the problem worse. Keira Knightly stars as Anna and does the role justice. Matthew MacFayden plays Anna’s philandering brother Oblonsky with much gusto and comedy, which was a bit over the top for me. Just a little. Oblonsky is a brash character, but I was always aware that it was MacFayden playing a Russian, whereas Law dissolved into his character.

Downton Abbey fans will spy two cast members Michelle Dockery (Mary) and Thomas Howes (William, who died in WWI) appear.

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Posted by on March 18, 2013 in classic, Russian Literature

 

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