Anna Karenina TIFF Review

Posted 8 years ago by myetvmedia

Anna Karenina is a perfect portrait through time of a woman torn apart by her circumstances and those imposed by society. Artificial, rigorous, soul destroying social rules and societal standards of this type lead to a rebellion of the heart, reckless behaviour and tragic outcomes.

Tolstoy’s classic Anna Karenina is magnificent because astonishingly it is still so completely relevant in today’s world, only the circumstances may have altered. We still face the moral ambiguities, questions of faith, fidelity and temptation. Society is still examining and challenging ideas of marriage, family and society in settings as extreme as the fringes of civilization, the ghettos, the urban jungle, the inner city, suburbia and in as familiar locales as our own homes. Questions of the legitimacy of gay marriage, inter-racial marriage and couples from different religious backgrounds uniting are as inflammatory today as the issues facing marriage in Tolstoy’s time.

Joe Wright, director of Anna Karenina, has an outstanding record for bringing powerful period pieces to the screen. He directed Keira Knightley in Pride & Prejudice (2005) andAtonement (2007) both of which won critical acclaim. Now Joe Wright tackles Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy’s beloved 19th century classic, superbly capturing the essence of Tolstoy’s complex world. The story was originally published in a series of installments between 1873 and 1878 in a Russian periodical. The multi-layered story is a complicated romantic tragedy and has been adapted to screen a number of times. It is the story of a woman who is trapped in a society that hypocritically punishes women for the same behavior that it praises in men. Being a philanderer was considered rakish and admirable while for a woman love outside of marriage and the ‘correct marriage’ was considered sluttish and abhorrent.

Tolstoy’s Czarist Russian court society quickly isolated and diminished a woman for following her heart and trying to escape the shackles of a loveless, unbearable marriage or for trying to marry outside of her class. In Tolstoy’s time Russian society imposed the most rigorous restraints upon everyone with regard to marriage. Marriage was a contract involving property, politics, religion and class and was really a business arrangement. Marriage contracts and their resulting obligations were not restricted to Russia of course. Marriage has always attracted the intense involvement of church, state, society and family. Tolstoy has managed to capture so brutally and tragically the human torture, self- destruction, heartbreak and misery that such arrangements can create.


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Anna Karenina TIFF Review

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