Thursday, December 13, 2012

Aristocratic Life is All a Stage

Barbara J. Elliot on the new Anna Karenina film. To quote:
Anna Karenina is a lush, beautiful, stylized film about succumbing to sexual flame and the complicated relationships of infidelity that tear a beautiful woman apart. The themes of love, lust, and forgiveness are depicted in the opulence of aristocratic society in late 19th century tsarist Russia. If you are expecting an experience like Dr. Zhivago, forget it. This is a heavily stylized rendition played as a stage within a stage, with overlapping realms of reality that may leave you bewildered (admitted by two moviegoers who went with me) until you work your way into the story. If you like art films, you’ll be fine. If you like linear plot lines, well, read a synopsis of the novel and maybe have shot of vodka before you go.

It took the genius of Tom Stoppard to condense 350,000 words of Tolstoy’s 1877 novel into 130 minutes of screenplay. Director Joe Wright took a boldly creative approach to this film, with a style reminiscent of Moulin Rouge (directed by Baz Luhrmann.) Life in Russian aristocracy had elements of theater, played out for the audience of high society, so Wright films the scenes on an actual stage, with aristocrats in the audience, whom we watch as they watch. The action alternates between this stage, where characters also move behind the curtains, into other realms of reality, such as a moving train, or they step from backstage into a snowscape that looks like a Magritte painting. (Read entire post.)

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