Admittedly I wasn’t entirely convinced by Keira Knightley’s casting as the titular role in Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina, but rather than continuing to berate Wright for his choice, it’s more productive to focus upon the positive aspects of the film. Whilst Knightley’s acting talents are often called into question, there is little doubt that her best work has been with Wright: her performances in both Pride and Prejudice and Atonementwere highly commendable.
Tolstoy’s novel, despite its canonical status, and the elitist literati snobbery the text often incurs, is an utterly relevant, superbly written novel, which feels at all times entirely contemporary, dealing with the minutiae facets of the human condition. Thus, Wright’s desire to bring Anna Karenina to a wider audience is not misplaced as some may suggest, but instead entirely worthy. An adaptation allows those, who from some misplaced sense of inferiority enforced by the novel’s ‘classic’ status may shy away from reading the text itself, access to a truly wonderful work.
The trailer itself, beautifully shot, fills me with real hope: Knightley imbues Anna’s magnetism, and I am heartened to see Levin’s inclusion within the trailer, his narrative development as is involving as Anna’s extramarital passionate affair. Wright breathed real life into his earlier forays with Knightley, and he has shown himself to be more than adept at dealing with film adaptation.
As with all film adaptations there will be some who cling on to the small details of the text that do not make their way into the film, but those who raise such issues fail to recognise the differences in mediums: an adaptation should not strive to slavishly represent the text’s narrative, but rather maintain a sense of the novel whilst making it suitable for a visual medium.
Finding myself increasingly disillusioned with the countless Austen, Shakespeare and Dickens adaptations, I am truly overjoyed to see directors finally paying attention to texts outside of the English Literary Canon. I can only hope that Wright’s adaptation paves the way for attention to other Russian texts, perhaps eventually even those less well known.