I would like Jacqueline Durran to costume my life, and Keira Knightley should play every classical heroine ever, so this movie made me very happy. I’m an “okay” fan of Russian literature, and I mostly enjoyed Anna Karenina when I read it, thought it was a little long, and I knew the ending before I started because, well duh.
But this movie, what a visual masterpiece. Loved the tension, loved the costumes. Take some time to watch it today, even if you can’t commit to reading it right away.
First, the book. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a preference for OUP/Oxford Wold Classics editions.
At its simplest, Anna Karenina is a love story. It is a portrait of a beautiful and intelligent woman whose passionate love for a handsome officer sweeps aside all other ties – to her marriage and to the network of relationships and moral values that bind the society around her. The love affair of Anna and Vronsky is played out alongside the developing romance of Kitty and Levin, and in the character of Levin, closely based on Tolstoy himself, the search for happiness takes on a deeper philosophical significance.
One of the greatest novels ever written, Anna Karenina combines penetrating psychological insight with an encyclopedic depiction of Russian life in the 1870s. The novel takes us from high society St Petersburg to the threshing fields on Levin’s estate, with unforgettable scenes at a Moscow ballroom, the skating rink, a race course, a railway station. It creates an intricate labyrinth of connections that is profoundly satisfying, and deeply moving.
Rosamund Bartlett’s translation conveys Tolstoy’s precision of meaning and emotional accuracy in an English version that is highly readable and stylistically faithful. Like her acclaimed biography of Tolstoy, it is vivid, nuanced, and compelling.
A great book–a good translation–you’ll feel like a cultural maven once you finally read it, and then you can dive into the 2012 movie:
Keira Knightley AND Jude Law, that’s all you need to know. Also, the guy who plays Vronsky, Aaron Taylor-Johsnon, was super young at the time (like..21/22 when the movie came out) which is weird, but it somehow works, haha. I also learned in the writing of this blog that he is married to a woman he met when he was 18 and she was 42…so it tracks. Taylor-Johnson is also set to play James Frey in the adaptation of Million Little Pieces his wife is directing, so stay tuned for that. I also just realized Cara Delevigne is in this? How odd. Also, apparently Saoirse Ronan was originally Kitty, but she dropped out, and now I will regret that for the rest of my life.
Joe Wright, of 2005 Pride and Prejudice and Atonement, directed, so no complaints there.Matthew Macfayden, aka 2005 Darcy, is also Anna’s brother in this. Which is weird, yes, but okay. Durran won for best Costume at the Oscars, obviously, because she can do no wrong.
Alright, rant over. Go watch this. It’s on Netflix. It’s got a 63% on Rotten Tomatoes. I like it, I want to go watch it right now, but I also just love this kind of stuff so…take that as you will.