Posted by: Jen
It’s been said before, and it’ll be said again: Anna Karenina is one of the best novels ever written. It interweaves the story of three couples: Oblonsky who cheats on his loving wife Dolly, the young love and courtship of Constantin Levin and Kitty, and Anna, who leaves her husband to become the mistress of Count Vronsky. It’s complex. It’s tragic. It encompasses nineteenth century Russian politics. This is why, at over 800 pages, it is a difficult novel to adapt to the screen.
Of course it’s been done before, most notably with Greta Garbo and Vivian Leigh, each failing to capture the over-the-top life of Imperial Russia, the great tragedy of Anna, the grand epicness of the entire novel, and in some cases, the relationship between Anna and her son. Some have even had happy endings (1927’s Love), completely unraveling the premise and point of the novel. I’ve seen several versions, and have been unsatisfied with them all.
The 2012 version falls into the same pitfalls. The story itself takes place around a stage, which makes no sense given it is neither a play nor are any of the characters actors. Everyone is constantly moving, and the entire movie is very arty, which is very inappropriate for the tragic story of Anna and Vronsky, which of course is the main focus of most movie versions. Actually, this whole movie is inappropriate. It’s full of bright colors, it’s arty for the sake of being arty, it’s a far cry from the novel it steals its name from.
I enjoy Keira Knightly, and seeing her reunite with Matthew MacFayden (who once played Mr. Darcy) made me as giddy as a schoolgirl. The costumes were beautiful, but the movie itself was just bizarre. Can someone, hopefully BBC, turn this into a miniseries so we fully encompass the greatest of what is Anna Karenina rather than just focus on the title character? Can we do it right, just once, with all the grandeur and splendor of Imperial Russia and the underlying conscious of a country divided just before the October Revolution? Don’t do me like this, Hollywood. Don’t do this.
Read my other Anna Karenina Reviews here: https://goodflickas.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/anna-karenina-vs-love/