In the ocean full of literary adaptions there are so many bad ones, and they are all so similar, they tend to drown and sink in the oblivion of our minds and even if we recall them again they have a bitter taste, so we let them fall again. The reason why this occurs is mostly because of the humility in the acting, and daring. Scenes might look great and spectaculous but on the other hand everything feels off, and may I say, odd.
The good ones, oh, they differ from each other in so many ways. Their successes are unlike any other. This is mainly achieved through the courage of the filmmakers and its cast not to follow the strict rules of adapting a novel onto a film strip, which includes copying every little detail as the author has written it. I tend to call this visual imitation.
Joe Wright has proven his great talent in making romantic movies with "Pride and Prejudice" and also "Atonement", but if I had not known it, I would never guessed that he directed "Anna Karenina". It is risky, playful, artistically magnificent, for all the senses that human beings possess. Some faithful admirers of Tolstoy's work might not approve of the freedom that Mr. Wright and the screenwriter Tom Stoppard have allowed themselves to take, but I bet that even Tolstoy himself would nod to this interpratation of his masterpiece.
This novel has been on screen so many times and on so many theater stages, but the idea of combining these two; is different and as I said risky. The sceneries of St. Petersburg and Moscow are presented as elaborate stage sets; the characters run through catwalks, props, ropes and backstage and scences change as they are needed to. Somehow everything appears like a real life inside a theater, every stage of society has its part and its level. But the movie, on the contrary, is not stagy at all. The camera moves are great, hurtling through the sceneries, bringing color and vibrancy to the story. I give a huge importance to the soundtrack as well, since it was composed by Dario Marianelli, who had a huge success with the score for "Pride and Prejudice", and I do not doubt that he will with this one too. Like it is supposed to be, the music supports the emotions and brings up everything that is unsaid to the surface, in its best way. Making a huge musical or even an opera out of the story.
There is one single scene I need to mention. The famous ball, where Anna and Vronsky meet. I loved how all the other actors froze while the two danced, for the first time. It was very picturesque and beautiful.
Keira Knightley once again verified herself in a historic and fragile role. I loved her portraying of Anna, the way she made her shine while in full happiness and the darkness and twisted thoughts while slowly becoming paranoid and unpredictable. Not to mention the wonderful costumes and jewelry which stood on her like on a mannequin, simply wonderful.
The biggest surprise for me was Jude Law, since he made his career on being handsome and attractive to the female population; so his picturing of Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin simply amazed me. When you succeed in such a transformation, then you can see yourself as an actor.
And then, there is another Alexei, but Kirillovich Vronsky who fell in love with Anna and became her lover, to an unapproving of his mother and the whole Russian society. The actor, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, with his blue eyes and golden blond hair managed to win my heart, although I had a completely different Vronsky in my mind while reading the novel.
There are plenty of other characters, such as Kitty, Levin, or Oblonsky, and while we follow them on their travels through difficulties and highs, we see the whole panorama of the 19th century Russia and its society; the way they love, live and judge; it makes it all legendary and great, but above all - comprehensive. Even though our society has more liberty, we still can adjust ourselves to the different personalities we are confronted with. Even nowadays you can feel all the pain, great love and passion, which lives for more than 130 years.
The final scene, was very modest but also very touching. Exactly the same train station, but nothing else was the same. Anna from the last year, became a devastated one, and seeing the escape of humiliation and her demons only in jumping in front of a train. And after I left the theater I felt the same way; like a train has hit me, I was (and still am), full of impressions and pictures which run through my mind. And I suppose this is exactly how it is supposed to be.
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