- Berkshire County eschews greenback for own currency — BerkShares
- Hagel warns Pakistani leaders of U.S. aid losses over drone-strike protests
- Florida authorities ban autistic boy from owning therapeutic chickens
- Defendant in Lee Rigby machete murder trial: ‘I love al Qaeda’
- Obama lied about Syrian chemical attack, ‘cherry-picked’ intelligence: report
- MSNBC host: Obamacare a ‘wealthy white men’ racist word
- Democrat thwarts Nevada activist’s try to name peak after Reagan
- Congress ready to extend ban on plastic firearms
- Rogue reindeer runs from Santa, eludes police for hours
- Iran touts new laser that bolsters missile accuracy
Keira’s ‘Karenina’ flips costume drama on its head
To hear Knightley tell it, some F-bombs were soundly dropped.
Knightley wasn’t swearing out of anger with Wright, who directed her to an Academy Award nomination for 2005’s “Pride & Prejudice” and to similar critical success on 2007’s “Atonement.” She worried that Wright’s unusual approach to Leo Tolstoy’s epic of doomed romance would make the hard-sell of a period drama even harder.
While “Pride & Prejudice” and “Atonement” were fresh, lively takes for an age that finds costume drama drowsy, Wright planned a wild and possibly off-putting ride on “Anna Karenina,” confining most of the action to a dilapidated theater where the actors would perform in a stylized cinematic ballet without the usual grand sweep of period-drama locations.
“The first thing I said was `Oh (expletive)!’ I was like, well, people are really either going to love it or absolutely (expletive) hate it,” Knightley said. “I also was going … you’re taking it and spinning it on its head and turning it into something that is potentially totally uncommercial. Into an experimental sort of art-house film…”
“I also went, `(expletive), yeah. Let’s give it a go.’”
The result is a fluid story that unfolds as much like dance as film, with a brisk pace compared to most period stories and contemporary sensibilities next to earlier takes on “Anna Karenina,” whose previous big-screen adaptations have featured Greta Garbo and Vivien Leigh.
Reality gives way to fantasy in the opening moment, as a barber approaches Anna’s brother, Oblonsky (“Pride & Prejudice” co-star Matthew Macfadyen), like a matador approaching a bull and shaves him clean with three lightning strokes of his razor. Walls roll aside, props rise up from trapdoors, a swirl of clerks in an office turns into a rush of waiters in a restaurant as Wright dispenses with realistic and time-consuming transitions in favor of a motion picture perpetually in motion.
The action in Moscow and St. Petersburg, where Knightley’s Anna forsakes her staid husband (Jude Law) in an affair with a young cavalry officer (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), shifts around an aging theater. The idea was inspired by Wright’s reading of historian Orlando Figes, who commented that 19th century Russian socialites modeled themselves on Parisians and lived their lives as though on stage, emulating that ideal.
Wright has built a career emulating the ideal of the period drama, once a mainstay for movie audiences now mainly interested in futuristic action or stories of the here and now. But Wright keeps looking for fresh ways to tell those old stories to modern crowds.
“I feel that the stories themselves are rich and relevant,” Wright said. “The concern really is that the form that those stories are told in, it has become kind of stuffy and old-fashioned.” But he adds, “just because it’s set in the 19th century, it doesn’t mean it has to look like it was shot in the 19th century.”
One of the first people Wright had to win over on his bold approach to “Anna Karenina” was playwright Tom Stoppard, an Oscar winner for the “Shakespeare in Love” screenplay who had adapted Tolstoy’s novel with a conventional location shoot in mind.
“He came around with a big folder of storyboards, and the more I got into it, the more interested and finally excited I was about it,” Stoppard said. “It gives the movie a modern spirit, that’s what it does. It’s not the costume drama we’ve seen before.”
By Brahma Chellaney
Beijing's creeping aggression signals a challenge to U.S. presence in the Asian Pacific
- CURL: Obama tells a whopper on IRS scandal
- Tech companies call for an end to NSA online snooping
- WOLF: The president's other Obamacare lies
- Satanists petition for statue at Oklahoma Statehouse
- Lawmakers see 'false narrative' of Obama as a terrorist fighter
- Obama lied about Syrian chemical attack, 'cherry-picked' intelligence: report
- MSNBC host: Obamacare a 'wealthy white men' racist word
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Ted Cruz sees legal landmines ahead for Obamacare
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
A politically conservative and morally liberal Hebrew alpha male hunts left-wing viper
Taking a deeper look at the undeniable connection between mind and body from a writer and speaker on matters of health, and a practitioner of Christian Science.
An objective, analysis-based perspective of D.C. sports as seen through the eyes of lifelong D.C. sports enthusiast, John Heibel.
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow