Did a search, couldn't find one. Any thoughts?
I enjoyed it immensely. Very lush, theatrical and melodramatic. If you're going to do high Russian drama, indulge in it. Kiera Knightly is perfect and a lock for an Oscar nomination, I think. Even Tom Stoppard's script was enjoyable.
I thought KK was atrocious in A Dangerous Method.
She was, R1.
I haven't seen AK, but a friend thought it was terrible. Like a poor man's Baz Luhrmann.
A new Anna Karenina is done every ten years and everyone gushes over the latest one. Every director thinks they know the story better than Tolstoy and they just have to change it. Garbo, Vivian Leigh, Mel Gibson's version with the beautiful Sophie Marceau, Jacqueline Bisset and Christopher Reeve - they were all horrors in their own way. I think this movie is another Moulin Rouge - big and splashy and soon forgotten.
I loved Keira in Duchess, but she is no more Anna that Garbo was, and "Love" was a star vehicle like this one.
You just can't tell this story in two or three hours. The best version was a BBC series from 1977. Nicola Pagett from Upstairs/Downstairs played Anna.
She dies at the end.
Sorry, but Keira already had me dozing through PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and ATONEMENT.
R3, Garbo made two versions of Anna Karenina. Silent version (Love) and talkie (Anna Karenina).
She was awful, r1. I couldn't finish the movie. But when she's needed to look sympathetic in expensive clothes, the movie is much more fun. I quite liked [italic]London Boulevard[/italic] and [italic]the Duchess[/italic].
I agree, R1. She was completely outclassed. It was cringeworthy.
Loved it. The comparison to Luhrmann is ridiculous. The editing isn't very fast-paced. Furthermore, there's a pattern to how the theatre-style staging is used. When Levin gets away from the opulence of the aristocratic society, Wright has the film open up to exterior settings.
It is a pity that it's now been done though. I think the theatrical conceit could have worked marvelously for the remake of My Fair Lady that Wright was attached to at one point.
I find the whole concept of staging it in a theatre to convey the theatricality of Russian society quite blunt and simplistic. I won't be seeing this steaming pile of shit.
So does the staging take you out of the film? I for one see period pieces to be drawn in to a time and place goddamnit!
I haven't seen it but the trailers look awful.
Vivien Leigh's 1948 version is in the public domain, and readily available.
r11, the staging is great, and I think the theatricality helps the story. It's a far better idea than taking the story literally. Visually, it helps the story move very rapidly.
I have never actually read the book. I have heard of it, of course. Is it an enjoyable read? I think it was written in installments - does that mean there is a lot of boring filler?
I just saw the Vivien Leigh version, and it was a brilliant film! I'm curious to see the updated version with Kiera Knightly.
Kiera Knightly is a horrid actress.
So ASkars' brother -- Bill Skarsgård -- has a minor role. This seemed exciting until I googled him. He looks like a mildly better looking Steve Buscemi:
I've seen almost all the filmed versions except this one and "Love" and I agree that the Vivien Leigh version is great. Its a stronger script than any other and it's beautifully acted by all. Except that little boy. God, how I hate child actors. Just hire midgets. The British miniseries from the 70s which PBS aired in the 80's is wonderful as well. . .but horrible, cheap sets become distracting. Another vote for Vivien and team.
A few years ago Chamberlain Brothers published a series of books and film classics that combined the book with a DVD. One of the classics in the series was Anna Karenina, which used the Vivien Leigh version
The great Vivien Leigh as Anna Karenina, it's currently showing on
How does it compare to the Scorcese version? I vaguely remember enjoying that one.
The public domain situation with the Vivien Leigh version results in many poor quality copies being out there. Three years ago or so, 20th Century Fox released a beautifully restored version on DVD (no Blu Ray yet. That's the version to see as it balances the black and white cinematography out and cleans the numerous scratches and tears that the damaged public domain DVDs are plagued by.
Scorsese never filmed Anna Karenina. Perhaps you are thinking of his film of Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence.
I really liked the Helen McCrory/Stephen Dillane miniseries especially for Douglas Henshall's wonderful performance as Levin and Paloma Baez's and Mark Strong's fine work as Kitty and Oblonsky. Kevin McKidd is not my idea of Vronsky but I'm sure others disagree.
Kiera Knightley makes me feel fat
[quote]So does the staging take you out of the film?
Yes and no.
If you go to a lot of theater and a lot of different kinds of films, you'll understand it as just another concept. Eventually it falls away and becomes just part of the presentation. It's lovely stuff, and it does suggest the artificial, claustrophobic nature of Russian society at the time, but the problem imho is that the artificiality makes it hard to connect to the characters as human beings. Weirdly, Karenin emerges as the most sympathetic character, which isn't the case in the novel at all.
Even people who like the film--I guess I'm one of them--probably couldn't say that they were genuinely moved by the ending, which seems pretty crucial.
Russian society was far less artificial than Prussian, English or French society of the time. The director is ignorant of Russian history and had to present it that way. Russians will laugh at this film, just like they did at the horrible mistakes in Lean's Zhivago.
I'v read several reviews that Aaron Johnson is not very good and is miscast as Count Vronsky. Can someone here rate his performance?
"Can someone here rate his performance"
Somehwere between Robert Pattinson in "Like Water for Elephants" and Zac Effron in "High School Musical 3: Prom Night Date Rape".
That's pretty bad.
[quote]I just saw the Vivien Leigh version, and it was a brilliant film! I'm curious to see the updated version with Kiera Knightly.
Me too. Watched the Leigh version on TCM.
I don't need film versions. The book lets me make the film in my head.
"Russian society was far less artificial than Prussian, English or French society of the time. The director is ignorant of Russian history "
Ah. Well, the fact that Wright was ignorant of Regency English history ruined his "Pride and Prejudice", so if he's learned nothing then I'm going to pass on this one.
Lizzie Bennet was not an uncouth farmer's daughter, for fuck's sake!
[quote]Russian society was far less artificial than Prussian, English or French society of the time.
You should learn what people mean when they're referring to the 'artificiality of Russian society.' When people say this, they're referring to the fact that Russia largely missed out on the Enlightenment movements of the 17th and 18th centuries that took hold elsewhere in Europe. The Russia where enlightenment ideas arrived in the early 19th century still resembled medieval Europe: dominated by the church, feudal, with serfs owned as property etc. The aristocracy had a lot of catching up to do, and by and large jettisoned Russian manners and adopted French manners, customs even French language when speaking to each other. It was all adopted and "artificial" in a specific way that Prussian, English or French society were not. There was also a great deal of contemplation in the arts--think Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky, Dostoevsky--of what truly constituted "Russsian-ness," what was at the heart of the national identity if everyone was playing a part. Seen through this lens, the film's conceit is a fitting one.
For some reason I thought James Franco was in this, which seemed like odd casting--the way Keanu kept doing period pieces that were unsuited for him.
[quote] I don't need film versions. The book lets me make the film in my head.
What utter bollocks.
You don't get it. Russian society had the Tsar and a small group of the top tier of nobles and high government officials at the top and a huge bureaucracy below that. Everybody in this group was in chin system of rankings. The Tsarist elite and the bureaucracy seldom interacted socially - only at great events.
Anna Karenina is not about the Tsarist elite. It is about bureaucratic and the land-owning minor nobility. Karenin was a bureaucrat. These people circulated on the periphery of the court - they summered in Tsarskoe Selo and Peterhof, they went to races, they attended the occasional ball at the Winter Palace (tens of thousands could attend a single ball there).
That said, Vronsky is a military officer from a princely family. The military officer corps is something apart from the government bureaucracy, but it is still a 'service' to the Tsar and the state with it's own rankings and regulations. You would be surprised to know some of the rules they had to follow - very silly ones that I would call artificial in the extreme.
People who know nothing about Russian history think it's always about Romanovs and Yussupovs. The Imperial Court was artificial, but Anna Karenina is not about the Imperial Court.
The Karenins and the characters from the novel may not be of the Imperial Court, r39 (I don't recall anyone here--or anywhere--arguing that they were, so your post is extremely odd, as if you're responding to something else) but they are nonetheless high-level Russian aristocracy, and they very much exemplified the sort of "artificiality" I speak of at r36: French-speaking, a French nanny for the children, adopting French and Western European dress and manners, attending opera, ballet, theater (all new to Russia in the 19th century), dancing the Waltz (a European fashion) and so on.
Karenin was not a bureaucrat, but an aristocrat who took on some governmental duties, a pastime of many Russian aristocrats of the day. His wife is friends with a princess. Princesses did not hang out with bureaucrats' wives. The characters are Russian aristocrats who, as I argued before, were living in an era in which people were highly conscious of adopting mores and manners from other cultures.
We can battle about Russian history all you want, r-40, but I don't need to prove anything to you.
[quote]I don't need to prove anything to you.
Well, no. No one is asking you to. But if you assert specious arguments in opposition to what I've said, you'll certainly get a response from me. That's all. Thanks.
Sounds like you are an expert....
Far from an expert, r43. These things are well-noted common knowledge.
Ah, yes, you are so right. I will be watching for your book on the Russian Aristocracy. Be sure to let us know when it's published.
I like to singa-singa-singa. . .When I see my Anna Karenina-nina-nina
For those who know, which is the best recommended translation of the novel?
EXCUSE me r38? Are you really that STUPID you need to watch a film to have the book come to life for you? God, you are pathetic!
Aaron Johnson was incredibly miscast. And so was his hair.
I've read that Aaron Johnson and Keira Knightly have no chemistry.
This movie looks awful.
r49, I've only read one translation so I can't really compare, but I thoroughly enjoyed it when I read the recent Richard Pevear translation, which, as far as I know, received really excellent reviews from those who would know the ins-and-outs of Russian translation and the various english translations. Very readable:
Obviously that poster wasn't objecting to books or reading, r50.
Rejecting ALL movie versions out of hand because "you see the movie in your head when you read" seems a bit solipsistic and pretentious, whether you mean it that way or not.
You REALLY would never see "Gone With the Wind" or "Wizard of Oz"?
saw it last night, thought it was fantastic, although it did seem to lose steam in the last 1/5th of the film. Her death scene was anticlimactic given some of the brilliant moments that preceeded it. Knightly reminds me of a talented Winona Ryder, and was fantastic, Jude Law deserves a best supporting nod, and the actress who played Anna's bad Girl best friend, Princess Betsy was also fantastic. Costumes, jewels and VEILS everywhere, Lots of talented unknowns. Amazing moments at the ball, the horse race,...the theatricality was really well done. Despite all the epic spectacle, my favorite scene in the whole movie was very simple and consisted of two supporting characters communicating their love using childrens' alphabet blocks. Loved it. Would totes recommend it.
After enduring Pride & Prejudice with Knightly, who was only remarkable in her singular inability to act (Judy Dench also delivered a phoned-in performance), I consider Joe Wright the most over-rated director after Baz Luhrman. So I fear I don't have the stomach for this.
[quote]Princesses did not hang out with bureaucrats' wives.
The person who wrote this knows nothing of pre-Revolutionary Russian society. Many princesses were the WIVES of bureaucrats. The aristocracy numbered TWO MILLION people: becoming a mere army colonel entitled you to enoblement. Yes, there was an upper fringe of families like the Yusupovs and Orlovs, but the Russian gratin was by far the scapiest in Europe.
Couldn't agree with your assessment more, r55.
Link please, for any of your claims at r56.
[quote]TWO MILLION people
No idea where you got this figure, but this would still be about 1-2% of the population of Russia at the time, which seems like about what I would guess for titled nobility/aristocracy: about 1-2% of the population in any country. the 1 percent, no? Sounds about right.
[quote]Link please, for any of your claims [R56]
It's a figure mentioned in dozens of studies. This review of Former People (great book btw) at the link notes it in the first sentence.
The vast majority of Russian aristocrats were middle class in their incomes, outlooks and aspirations. But a great many were also dirt poor.
The Russian aristocracy as Hollywood imagines it numbered very few. You can see most of them in the group photograph taken at the famous 1903 costume ball at the Winter Palace.
[quote]The vast majority of Russian aristocrats were middle class in their incomes, outlooks and aspirations
I beg to differ. Russia really had no middle class, and you can't describe titled nobility as "middle class" in outlook or aspiration in any meaningful way: it doesn't make sense, even if the wealth is diminishing and even if titles are becoming more diffuse.
The characters in the film and in the novel are wealthy Russian aristocrats. Period. Full stop. Don't know why people have a problem with this.
[quote] Russia really had no middle class
Bitch, please. Do some reading. By 1914 Russia had a notable middle class. Proportionally by no means as significant as that of other Western Countries, but certainly large.
[quote] you can't describe titled nobility as "middle class" in outlook or aspiration in any meaningful way
On the contrary. A swathe of Russia's civil service and military were ennobled. Just because they had a handle to their names didn't alter the fact that they were low brow. A lot of the provincial nobles (and most families were provincial) were pretty much kulaks.
Wouldn't teachers, professors, doctors, theater folk, lawyers, shopkeepers, to name just a few professions, all be considered middle class?
[quote]By 1914 Russia had a notable middle class.
Anna Karenina is set in 1874, but no matter. Facts and figures from 1914 tell us about characters in a novel set in a totally different time period.
(And be sure to punctuate every assertion, no matter how specious, with a queeny insult like "Learn to read" or "You know NOTHING.": It makes you sound so sophisticated).
A subjective term entirely unknown in the place and time we're talking about. We're talking about titled nobility in St. Petersburg and Moscow of the mid to late 19th century btw, in case you were wondering. You're welcome. The fact that there were provincial nobles and a growing class of military titles makes no difference to the central point: The characters in Anna K are Russian aristocracy. DEAL.
[quote] And be sure to punctuate every assertion, no matter how specious, with a queeny insult
Talk about shooting yourself in your prancing tap shoe...
Oh, the irony, r65,
r63, At The beginning of the 19th century, Russia really had no middle or professional class to speak of. the country still very much resembled medieval Europe, with the vast majority living as peasants with a small noble class lording it over the rest. In the 19th century, this began to change and Russia sought to become more European in its outlook. There was a growing professional class, but it was still too small and weak to really be considered much of a visible or powerful social force, as it was in the rest of Europe at the close of the 19th, beginning of the twentieth.
Hate her. I hated her in Pirates where she stood on the railing OF A MOVING SHIP and gave the shittiest speech. Since then, I avoid.
WHO HIRES HER??? There isn't a good brit actress. Forget Mulligan. She has major problems.
The staging, the choreograohy is alienating. I felt nothing for the characters; the lovers are inane and idiotic. In a bleak moment Knightly is inexplicably manic and chipper. At first I thought - well that's one approach - but by the fifth time - inasanity. Vronsky is beyond bad. He's not even all that hot and there is zero chemistry.
Jude Law, OTOH, is quite marvelous and compelling. His character is not as staged or theatrical as the others. He has become a character actor. Good for him.
It was a huge waste.
R15 ~ the book is beautiful and thought provoking. It held my attention all the way through. Don't read it in a hurry; you sort of need to savor it.
I hate period pieces placed in new contexts. It rarely illuminates, and when you have a director who is coarse in their sensibilities it becomes as risible as those films made by fashion people. The elbows on the table and slovenliness in Wright's Pride & Prejudice didn't illuminate Austen's story: it just looked complete idiocy. I expect it's the same with the constructs in this film.
[quote]The best version was a BBC series from 1977. Nicola Pagett from Upstairs/Downstairs played Anna.
I didn't remember her from "Upstairs, Downstairs", so I googled & found that she played Elizabeth, the daughter of the house, who was unlucky in love:
[quote]she falls in love with Baron Klaus von Rimmer, a German who turns out to be a homosexual.
No matter what the truth was about 19th century Russian society, you can bet your ass that Joe Wright ignored it.
He's a goddamn fucking hack, and so is his favorite hack actress!
Would love to hear more opinions on the movie from people who have actually *seen* the movie.
and maybe can you take the argument about Russian history into its own thread?
[quote]The best version was a BBC series from 1977. Nicola Pagett from Upstairs/Downstairs played Anna.
At least it wasn't the BBC's 1970s War & Peace of which Clive James wrote in the Sunday Times that the emoting of the actress who played Natasha Rostov made him want to throw a tarpaulin over her and nail down the corners.
At least Wright tried something new. There's only so many times you can do the heritage adaptations that the BBC churns out.
I agree with r76 about Joe Wright.
I haven't seen AK yet but I loved his Pride and Prejudice and appreciated that he created a different, more rustic and colorful version of the family and culture than always presented in filmed Austen adaptations....rows of perfectly dressed girls in white lace dresses and men with permed hair. Wright's characters actually sweated!
Time-worn classics are strong enough to withstand some re-interpretation.
How can anyone think that Kiera Knightly is a good actress is beyond me.
She's NOT a good actress and I don't think anyone really claims she is. She just happens to have a very photogenic face and a certain "quality" that makes her suitable for certain roles. She's used by directors as a sort of "presence" to which the men surrounding her get to shine. Think about all her films --it's the men around her that give some of their better performances.
I rather liked this new AK --but it will flop here in the US, of course.
I don't know, R79. I don't even think she has any "presence," and that's not because she looks like a skeleton. Her jaw is distracting. And she seems to lack any sex appeal, IMO.
I thought the sets and costuming (including jewelry) were sumptuous and gorgeous. I liked the staging, too, which was lucky for me because there wasn't much else to recommend about this movie.
KK looked beautiful but lacked emotional weight. I never bought her as the mother to her son or as a wife to her husband. Or as someone who could incite interest beyond the first vapid conversation.
Maybe that's why Aaron Johnson was cast. He matches her in vapidity and looks ridiculous. Take away the flamboyant hair and there's nothing left. In real life, the two would fuck and then quickly move on.
Matthew McFadyn seemed to be in a different, jollier movie.
Whoever played Levin really needed to be sexier. I never understood why Kitty would have been interested in him.
Someone eariler had posted that the liked the 2000 British version with Helen McCrory as Anna. Helen must have seen Nicola's version because she seemed to be channeling her mopst of the time. I actually thought she was pretty good - I would rate her number two after Nicola. The handsome Kevin McKidd played Vronsky and he did what he could with the role. However, he never was a convincing Russian officer. He didn't have the accent, the posture and he didn't know how to wear a uniform - nor how a Russian officer would act in public. He was convincing as someone in love with Anna. Stuart Wilson as Vryonsky in the 1977 version was superb, absolutely perfect - he knew how to ride a horse and he had a 'stashe.
The 2000 version drove me crazy - an officer would never go around without his hat outdoors and they were running around without coats in winter! Obviously they have never been in Petersburg in January! The at the end Anna goes to the train station without a hat - IMPOSSIBLE!
In the greenhouse Vyronsky appears with his uniform unbuttoned - IMPOSSIBLE - he would have been arrested - no officer would be unbuttoned like that.
This edition was loaded with errors that anybody who knew anything about Russia could have caught. The wedding was nice - looked like a Wanderer painting of the time.
There was one thing I wasn't sure about - did the waiters in the restaurant wear livery like that or would they have been Tatars? Anybody want to comment?
Also, why did Steva have a Scottish accent when no one else did?
"I loved his Pride and Prejudice and appreciated that he created a different, more rustic and colorful version of the family"
You realize, don't you, that those particular changes would have made it impossible for Darcy to marry Lizzie Bennet? He made Mr. Bennet a farmer rather than an idle landowner, and rich gentlemen like Darcy would never dream of marrying a farmer's daughter, nor of attending a ball where they were guests. And farmer's daughters had work to do, unlike Austen's Bennet sisters, so they wouldn't be "silly and idle" enough to get into trouble.
Wright doesn't give a rat's ass about historical accuracy, so all you experts on Russia shouldn't expect much.
Saw the movie this afternoon in a half-filled theater. I was the youngest one there and I'm 63!
I enjoyed the 1st hour immensely so I was not put off by the stage sets and choreography at all. I found the concept refreshing.....don't need to see another plodding version of the story done completely in realistic historical context.
But the second hour severely disappointed. There didn't seem to be enough story to justify the time spent. And Keira and Aaron could not live up to the hopeless tragedy of their situation. They just seemed petulant. And then I fidgeted every time the focus went back to Kitty and Levin, whose story line was even more boring then Anna and Vronsky' fate. Longing for a return to the train station cause I knew it signalled the end.
Jude was indeed wonderful. Also enjoyed Mathew McF if just for some much needed comic relief.
So I guess I'd rate it about a B-.
Knightley and Johnson are both such lightweights. Is there really no one better among that generation of actors?
Just saw this and hugely enjoyed this. I am amazed more Dataloungers have not seen it & made a fuss over it because it is the perfect Datalounge movie: heaps and heaps of style, style, style; but for once wedded to some substance (unlike, say, MOULIN ROUGE). Aaron Taylor-Johnson is the most gorgeous thing alive, so even he outshines the incredible costumes and set designs. And the actor who plays Levin and Jude law are fabulous. The only problem in the whole thing is Keira Knightley, who is stunningly beautiful (as always) but who acts like she's having a teenage hissy fit (as always).
I was with you, R86, until you described Knightley as STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL. (snort)
As if I give a rat's ass whether you agree with me on anything or not, Anonymous.
This was my first time seeing Aaron Taylor-Johnson. I didn't pay attention to the constant chatter about him being miscast because I trust Joe Wright. James McAvoy couldn't be more different from the Robbie that McEwan describes in Atonement, yet he gave a stunning performance.
What a gorgeous man! I thought he was perfect for what Wright had in mind. Now I want to see more of him.
There will never be a perfect adaptation of Anna Karenina. I saw the movie with that in mind and kind of loved it. Sometimes it doesn't work, it drags a bit during the second half, some performances are odd yet everything seems to fit. I understand the critics and totally get why it's a divisive film.
Like another poster said, at least Joe Wright is doing something different. I really hope that he gets the kind of recognition he deserves soon. It was a travesty when he was overlooked for his work in Atonement in favor of Jason Reitman for Juno.
And Dario Marianelli is the best film composer working today. The score was perfection.
Totally agree r89.
The score is sublime as are the costumes and some of the scenes just stay in your mind.
Anna storming in to see her son.Levin seeing Kiity driving past.
Yep some of it was uncomfortably pretentious but then,then I can't stop thinking about it and the themes it gave.
It was an interpretation of the novel and it made you think which is what interpretations do.
The book is so thick and dense with characters and plot,you can never hope to achieve a full version on screen.
Jude Law was a revelation and Vronsky is what he should be,a piece of beefcake who selfishly pursues his objectives.
Keira is perhaps as flawed as Anna herself.A victim of her own beauty.
I actually think I loved it .