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Review: Anna Karenina

Tessa Mae Roy ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff

Keira Knightley stars as Anna Karenina in the new film adaptation of the class novel. Photo via nytimes.com.
Keira Knightley stars as Anna Karenina in the new film adaptation of the class novel. Photo via nytimes.com.

Keira Knightley joins the ranks of Greta Garbo, Vivien Leigh, and other famous actress to portray Anna Karenina in yet another film adaptation of the classic Leo Tolstoy novel, Anna Karenina. The novel that centers on a tragic love affair is offered to viewers in a new and unique manner, making it highly entertaining. However, fans of the book may find it untrue to the original story.

Director Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina is so highly dramatic and theatrical that it is difficult to even call it a movie. It feels as though it is made for the stage rather than the screen, and in fact, some parts of it are actually performed on a stage. This presentation is fresh and creative, making for a fast-paced film that never becomes boring. This is definitely a plus considering the lengthy two hour and ten minute run time. A film this long is likely to elicit some snores from an audience, but Wright manages to grab the attention and never let go.

Although the entertainment factor is high, the quickness of the pace leaves little room for essential character and plot development. This means the original story is often betrayed. Tolstoy had spent ample time mastering every aspect of Anna and Vronsky’s (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) relationship from their first encounters to their hiding from Anna’s husband all the way up until the tragic end to their affair. Wright pulls them together far too quickly, missing important aspects of their time together. In addition, Anna, her husband Karenin (Jude Law), and Vronsky are gravely misrepresented. Tolstoy intended for us to like Anna, and to pity her for her oppression from Karenin and eventual mistreatment she receives from Vronsky. However, Wright makes us annoyed by her rebellious antics, and instead, we feel bad for Vronsky and Karenin for having to put up with her. This is misleading and poorly represents the meaning that is supposed to be taken away from the story.

Anna Karenina isn’t necessarily a movie one must absolutely watch before the end of 2012. But it still is worth seeing if the opportunity arises. Just keep in mind that although the entertainment factor is high, the accuracy factor is low.

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