Wild Young Minds: Anna Karenina: divine, dynamic but oh so damned

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Anna Karenina: divine, dynamic but oh so damned

“These joys were so trifling as to be as imperceptible as grains of gold among the sand, and in moments of depression she saw nothing but the sand; yet there were brighter moments when she felt nothing but joy, saw nothing but the gold.”
Based on the 1878 novel by Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina is the latest costume drama which focusses on a bored and beautiful woman in the late 19th century, played by Keira Knightley. Who else?

Anna Karenina is a Russian aristocrat and socialite, married to Karenin, a hardworking government official. The film has a marvellous decor, it´s almost as if we´re constantly looking at a theatre play, because of the many ways in which the film makers have tried to emphasize this during the film. Dancing and extravagantly dressed actors, changing stages, it´s all very magical and energetic.

The story begins with the travel of Anna Karenina from St. Petersburg to Moscou by train. She has to leave her husband and young son for a few days in order to help the wife of her brother, who has just cheated on the wife in question. In the train, dressed in an exquisite fur coat and hat (compliments on the styling!), she meets Countess Vronsky (the film is full of counts, countesses, princes and princesses). This short meeting doesn´t seem that significant, but it is the son of the Countess who will play a very important role in Anna´s life later on.

When arrived in Moscou, Anna manages to comfort Dolly, the wife of her brother. She joins the ball, which is a manifestation of beautiful people, dressed in even more beautiful dresses and suits. They are all dancing like we can´t imagine, the men just as graceful as the ladies. This is a very important ball for Kitty, Dolly´s younger sister, for she hopes to be proposed by Count Vronsky, a charming young guy with the most gorgeous blue eyes I´ve ever seen.

But Vronsky has more eyes for Anna, who is older, less curved than Kitty, but much more mysterious. There is a mutual affection between Vronsky and Anna, that is absolutely not done in those circles and for a married woman. Vronsky can´t forget Anna and goes to St. Petersburg as well.

A passionate affair commences and everyone knows about it, even Anna´s husband (played by an unrecognizable Jude Law). Anna and Vronsky can´t marry before a divorce though and a turbulent period begins.

´Anna Karenina´ is nothing more than a love story in the purest form. Can you give up your son, security and a good reputation for real love? The latter two definitely in my opinion (passion is everything) but I find it extremely selfish Anna wants to abandon her son in order to be with her lover. ´When he is old and experiences this himself he´ll understand´. Yeah, sure. More easily said than done and eventually Anna finds it hard to make the decision to really leave her husband, though that is a real coward, if you ask me.

Joe Wright, the director, did a good job adapting such an old script. As I already said, the story itself is very simple. We´ve seen this in a million films and stories already: married and rich woman becomes bored and falls in love with someone exciting and they have something passionate together. Despite the simple storyline, the film lasts for more than 2 hours. In the end, which is quite booming, it gets a bit long-winded and harder to concentrate. The climax worked out very badly, it didn´t affect me at all, which was, I guess, not Tolstoy's meaning when writing the book. And probably the book showed this better anyway.

Keira Knightley and her high chin were perfect for the role, so it was a logical choiche to cast her as Anna. But I have to say I've seen so many parts of Keira where she plays the troubled, crying but powerful woman, most of the time and preferably in a costume as well (Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, Silk)... I think I can dream her face expressions and the way she acts now.

All in all, ´Anna Karenina´ is a feast for the eyes. The way of filming is very original, just as the decor. The story was simple but intriguing, but they could´ve shortened the film a bit to avoid the long-windedness in the end. And yes, well, the end was a bit of a disaster, but the rest of the film makes up for that. If that makes any sense at all. Any way, give this film a shot, good for the cultural development and more importantly, good for the eyes!


  1. Hey Bente,

    Mooi verhaal! Heb de film gisteren gezien. Trok me eerst niet, maar was te laat voor de andere films :) Maar hij is geweldig! Wat een vaart en wat een effecten. Voor ik het wist stond ik weer buiten... Haar einde was inderdaad niet best, in meerdere opzichten dus.

    By the way, had met een vriend van me afgesproken, die heeft net een nieuwe band. Je moet echt eens naar 'Fok de Liefde' luisteren, dat wordt een hit:

    See you,

  2. Hee Ruud,

    Thanks! Ja, hij is mooi, hè! Op sommige puntjes na dan, maar dat is altijd wel.
    Heb het nummer gehoord, klinkt, zoals ze al zeggen, echt als Doe Maar!
    Wel gaaf, hoor je tegenwoordig niet zo veel meer.