After finding out that Joe Wright was the director of the gripping story of Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy I was confident this movie would be a great success.
How wrong I was.
Joe Wright is the director of the lovely movies Pride and prejudice and The Atonement both featuring the elegant Keira Knightly and both movies I adore. From the beautiful shots to the costumes they conveyed their stories so perfectly. So why would his adaptation of Anna Karenina be any different?
This version of Anna Karenina would, as my mother put it, “make Tolstoy squirm in his grave”. The movie opens in what is supposed to be a grand theater but looks kitsch, painted in gold and a disheveled back drop hanging. Joe Wright filmed it in a strange unrealistic way; the movie takes place for the most part inside this theater. Which is ironic as Tolstoy expressed his hate for the theater; to his good friend and play writer Chekhov he said "You know I hate plays. Shakespeare was a bad writer, and I consider your plays even worse than his." So why on earth would director Joe Wright decide to film the movie in the one place Leo Tolstoy expressed contempt for?
Throughout the movie there are flying painted backdrops, crew moving around sets, actors getting from one strange set to the next by merely passing through doors and scenes unattractively fusing into one another. One second, Levin and Oblonsky are in a restaurant, and the next Kitty is calling out to Levin and they find themselves at Kitty’s reception while the set is being moved. It creates a total sense of chaos. Parts of the movie are even filmed in the rafters of the theater, pulleys and ropes hanging all over the place. And then a few scenes were bizarrely filmed in a conventional setting, outdoors in a field or in a house in the country. These few scenes gave an insight to the huge potential the movie had. The whole set only achieved the task of detracting us from the unfolding tragedy.
The story of Anna Karenina is one of my...