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Russian newspapers focus on British adaptation of Tolstoy’s epic Anna Karenina

January 09, 2013, 11:47 UTC+3

The world premiere evoked the storm of admiration and the squall of criticism

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One of the main New Year premieres was Tom Stoppard’s adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina directed by Joe Wright. The world premiere evoked the storm of admiration and the squall of criticism. Russian newspapers widely comment on the film.

Authors place a focus on theatricality penetrating the whole life of the Russian nobility in the 19th century, the Kommersant business daily believes. Sincere stage conditionality hampers to take this semi-film and semi-performance too close to heart.

The idea to look at Anna Karenina as at a full stage performance is justified, as one of the main reasons of Anna Karenina’s tragic end is the conflict between her sincere feelings and hypocrisy of manners reigning in the society and the need to observe this hypocritical decorum.

Keira Knightley plays, probably, the most nervous and spontaneous Anna Karenina ever starred – her eyes spark with anger, her nostrils are dilated and to make a kiss she so rapaciously moves forward her unique jaw as if she prepares to bite off Vronsky’s tongue, an author of Kommersant’s article joked mockingly.

However, if to put a black spider web veil on the actress’s face that will hide her too energetic mimics, some grief and tragedy can be found in this perverse, toffee-nosed and too self-conscious Anna, but this feeling disseminates in a wink of an eye as the white staff in a snow globe as the British press rightly describes Joe Wright’s film.

At the website of the IMDb the film’s rating stands at 7.1, which is rather high, the Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily reported. The film proved to be more successful among women than among men, while the rating of 8.6 among youth gradually declines as far as more elders give their vote, but still remains high.

According to the newspaper, this is quite clear as young people are not so much dependable on the stereotypes left after the novel’s reading. The elder generation feels nostalgic about previous adaptations starring Greta Garbo, Vivien Lee, Alla Tarasova and Tatyana Samoylova, while young people are more open to new approaches. It is clear that most cinema goers have not read the novel at all, but those who did this are more impressed by the freedom of interpretation the British authors use while filming the Russian genius’s well-known novel.

Meanwhile, this freedom distinguishes this new film out of other versions more or less scrupulously adapting the story. This fearless approach allowed scenario writer Tom Stoppard and director Joe Wright to go along their own, absolutely unexpected path in showing the conflict and the novel’s main theme. They found their own, purely cinematographic system of characters showing St. Petersburg’s high society as a big theater without intermissions – it already has nothing natural, any human feelings are covered with a thick layer of stage make-up and are put into chains of conventionality by duplicity of the society, archaism of state settings and hypocrisy of the church. Of course, the film’s authors deviated from the letter of the novel, but maintained its spirit.

This film is more than adequate to the Russian classics. Its authors put an emphasis on the theme they see as main, which demonstrates three different fates of three happy and unhappy families – Karenin and Anna (and Vronsky), Levin and Kitty, Oblonsky and Dolly, RBK daily wrote. The fact that Levin’s story line was finally given a worthy place in the film is good and important as well as the fact that the authors made no attempts to put Tolstoy’s full-size epic into the film. It’s all the same to discontentedly write out on the list all details found in the text, but not seen in the film and to compare a tiny statue of a ballerina with the Bolshoi Theater’s team. However, a miniature can be engraved with Faberge’s name.








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