With the magnificent set-design and dramatic lighting of the theatre, combined with the mobility of a film’s camera, Joe Wright’s direction and Seamus McGravey’s cinematography in Anna Karenina is truly spectacular. Although to begin with it is slightly difficult to follow the story’s jumps in time and location, it is the film’s difference, uniqueness, and riskiness that make it worth seeing. To clarify, the film is principally staged, with the camera following the characters, and the music paralleling the characters’ plight. A beautiful film, especially if you can appreciate the director’s as well as the narrative and actors’ roles.
As Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy is a long novel, and as I was in awe with the cinematographic perspective of the film, I found it easier to forgive the perhaps more mediocre plot of the film – the film itself only had two hours to squeeze everything in. But still, and I’m sure people might argue that it’s due to my female gender, I found it harder to sympathise with Anna’s character in the film than in the book. If I had had no knowledge of the book’s details, I probably would have come out with a fairly anti-feminist message from the narrative; it was hard to understand Anna’s actions and what was going through her mind. I’m not denying that she makes mistakes, she does both in more logical terms of societal pressure and for more selfish reasons such as her impulsive passions, but rather than having an understandable but tragic ending, the film in my opinion implied Anna Karenina’s ending as one she deserved. There was not enough time dedicated to Anna’s insanity and the reasons for it as there is in the book. Having said this, I’m not saying I wasn’t impressed with the male representations in the film: I especially admired Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin’s character and his virtue and forgiveness throughout the film.
Claiming a number of nominations and wins so far this award season, particularly for its cinematography such as a BAFTA nomination and an Academy Award nomination, and although I would urge one to remember that the narrative of the film is only an interpretation of the novel’s perspective, it is deserving of its critical acclaim, especially for its aesthetic beauty.
Director: Joe Wright
Cinematography: Seamus McGravey
Screenplay: Tom Stoppard
Music: Dario Marianelli
Actors: Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Based on a novel by Leo Tolstoy