This is what I like about the movies. They allow you to 'read' the book without actually leafing through it.
I always found reading novels by Russian authors to be difficult. Why? The characters have very long first and last names usually ending with ky, ov, ova, in or ina, that they all sound alike and with too many letters. And the books are thick, too! I remember reading Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Brother Karamazov. Fyodor lost me after the first 20 pages. Ha-ha-ha!
But on the day I saw Anna Karenina's movie poster with Keira Knightley's poster, I immediately remembered the novel, which, of course, I haven't even thought of attempting to read! It wasn't assigned as required reading at school. (Thank, God!). And thanks to Working Title Films, I won't ever have to read the book!
Leo Tolstoy is regarded as a genius of a novelist, and his Anna Karenina novel is regarded as the greatest novel ever written. No wonder, the film wasn't portrayed in a lavish, epic production the novel deserved. Instead, the director told the story through a theater stage, complete with pulleys, ropes, huge curtains and stagehands. And I think it worked. Up to a certain extent. Since it's about Russia and things in the czarist Russia were huge and extravagant, I was only convinced half-way. At least, there was some effort to give the audience some Russian-ness on the screen.
The costumes and the jewelry were ostentatious. Of course, the fur that everyone wore was real, too. It looked different. And Keira Knightley's beautiful face and long neck adorned with real diamonds and pearls, and the rest of the cast's suits, gowns and make-up made it easy for audience to remember who was who, and not to be anymore bothered with those difficult Russian names. Ha-ha-ha! And since it was staged on a theater, the play between light and shadows was fascinatingly eerie, considering the tragic ending. Oops!
Leo Tolstoy's novels usually talk about morals, the complicated society and everything in between. But as I sat on a semi-filled theater, this story may have been set in the late 19th century, but these romances and scandals are all actually happening these days. Though the characters may no longer be wearing real fur and their diamonds may be a bit smaller compared to the huge ones scattered around Miss Knightley's neck. The times may have changed, but the morality of men hasn't evolved. Ha-ha-ha!
Should I recommend you to watch this? Well, if you haven't read the book yet, you should. But if you have, I say you go watch it, too, especially of you love these great Russian novels.
(The official movie poster in Korean)
And a few photos from the official Anna Karenina movie website: