I personally did not know much about the story of Anna Karenina before I saw the film. I generally have a rule of reading a book before I see the movie, but I didn’t have much time before my family’s spontaneous decision to go see this one. For that reason, I went into this film with a completely open mind and lack of background. I viewed this film not as an adaption of Leo Tolstoy’s work of literature, but as a work of visual art that stood on its own—and it marveled me.
Anna Karenina, directed by Joe Wright, starred Keira Knightley as the title character. It is impossible to describe here what this story is fully about, but I think that it is best summed up as being about how love can change your entire world. Anna Karenina spends this film torn between her marriage to her husband, Aleksei, and her new found romantic love with Count Vronsky. Her character is deeply troubled and complex, and even I could tell that there was no way to explore her complexities found in the print version of Anna Karenina—or those of any other character for that matter—in one hundred and twenty-nine minutes. That being said, I thought Knightley was perfectly cast in this role; you could see Anna’s troubles in her eyes. She portrayed a deeper story, something that is integral to making a film based on such an intricate text.
My personal favorite part of this film is also the most criticized part: its theatrics. Parts of this movie were shown on a grand stage, and I loved the abstractness it brought to the scene transitions. It portrayed the emotion of this film on a deeper level. It made me feel like everything that happened in the characters’ external lives was just a show—but the changing emotions, represented by the transition from stage to movie set, were real. As a piece of art, this film portrayed that the private and internal moments of love are what connect the less important, staged moments of our lives. This abstract idea is a hard one to portray visually, but I found Wright’s tactics to be successful.
Image from http://www.beyondhollywood.com