Anna Karenina is a film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Leo Tolstoy. It tells the story of Anna (Keira Knightley), a beautiful 19th-Century Russian aristocrat, and her affair with the young and daring Vronksy (Aaron Taylor-Johnson).
You may already have heard the production twist that sets Joe Wright’s version apart from the rest. During filming Wright struggled to find the perfect locations, despite having travelled to Russia to do so.
After reading an essay that compared life of Russian aristocracy during the 19th century to performing your every move on stage, Wright decided to set the majority of the movie inside a theatre.
The result is a beautiful, if somewhat stilted, adaptation. It is hard to avoid the feeling of claustrophobia that Knightley’s Anna experiences. Her every move is watched, and the rooms that represent Moscow’s skylines are squashed next to, on top of, and sometimes even into the same space as each other.
The theatre setting is made good use of, with scene transitions signified by actors visibly changing costume on screen. Although clever, it is a little obvious that the script was originally written (by Parade’s End Tom Stoppard) without this in mind.
However, the film is largely a faithful and passionate adaptation; a drama with beautiful costumes, impressive performances and a brave choice of setting that is more than worth the price of student admission.