Monday, December 10, 2012

Film Fest - Anna Karenina

I saw the new version of Anna Karenina - screenplay written by noted playwright Tom Stoppard.  Perhaps this helps explain the decision to set this retelling on a stage...

An interesting way to handle the story.  It facilitates fast and stylish scene changes and gorgeous visuals, but I'm not sure that, ultimately, it adds to the storytelling.  Stylish though!  It reminded me of Moulin Rouge - where, I think, the theatricality was a much better fit.

That said, the acting and production values were very fine - costume design especially.  But did Anna really, really need to change clothes so often?  Gorgeous outfits.

I enjoyed the film, but wasn't completely convinced.  Partly, of course, this is because I never could quite finish the book: I always got to the famous race scene, read as Anna disgraces herself; threw the book against the wall; ranted, "Idiot!  Idiot!" for a few minutes; then, panting, picked up the book to skip ahead to make very sure (SPOILER!) that dopey Anna gets hit by the train; then quit reading in disgust.  I tried the novel several times, but I do hate wasting 300 pages on idiots.  Anna's heart-throb, Count Vronsky, is another idiot and a weakling too, not worth throwing her life away over.


I'm happy to report that this film version is much easier to finish.  (I liked the visual ending).  Anna, however, remains an idiot and Vronsky still not worth her time.  Both good performances, plus Jude Law's as Anna's saintly husband.  (I feel for the husband - he gets a rough deal.)

So - classic story interestingly translated to the screen, where you don't have to endure idiocy so long.

As Dorothy Parker once said, "This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly.  It should be thrown with great force."

First edition of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, from Word Virus

Re: this illustration of the first edition of Anna Karenina, see the blog Word Virus HERE for more photos of first editions of classic novels.  Fascinating!  There's a photo of The Hobbit which makes a nice teaser for the I-can't-wait!-for-it film.

Okay - to be fair - You may love the book.  It's a classic for a reason.  Me?  Not so much.

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