November 20, 2012

"Anna Karenina"

From my movie review in Taki's Magazine of the spectacular adaptation of Tolstoy's classic by director Joe Wright and screenwriter Tom Stoppard, starring Keira Knightley and Jude Law:
Third and most remarkably, Wright’s film may be the first of the numerous Anna Karenina adaptations whose sympathies lie firmly with her cuckolded husband, the unsexy bureaucrat Karenin. ... 
Today it’s universally assumed that an unfaithful wife should get custody of the children. Yet Wright and Stoppard don’t seem terribly interested in pointing fingers at 19th-century Russians for their lack of enlightenment about family law. 
When Anna laments that she can’t possess both her lover and her son because “The laws are made by husbands and fathers,” it’s hard not to respond, “As well they should be.” Wright’s film depicts the staggering amount of wealth piled up in Imperial Russia by aristocratic families—much of it spent by women on fashion. But all of this acquiring and saving depended on an orderly system of inheritance where men knew that their heirs really are theirs.

Read the whole thing there.

36 comments:

Thursday said...

RE: Jude Law

Have there been any exceptionally handsome character actors before? I don't really recall any.

Anonymous said...

The chapter "O WASP, WHERE IS THY STING-ALING?" is pretty interesting.

Nene Romanova said...

After seeing Keira Frightly in A DANGEROUS METHOD, I don't care to see her again. Her bone-face makes me sick.

Linna said...

What can I say of Tolsto?. I read WAR AND PEACE with great interest and thought it a very great novel but after it was over, POOF, it left no impression on me.

But THE LIFE AND DEATH OF IVAN ILICH--basis for Kurosawa's IKIRU--stayed with me.

Is it a good idea to turn great novels into movies? Generally not. (John)Simon's Law: If it's worth doing, it cannot be done. If it can be done, it's not worth doing.

beowulf said...

"But all of this acquiring and saving depended on an orderly system of inheritance where men knew that their heirs really are theirs."

Right, before DNA testing a woman's reputation was her husband's main (and quite imperfect) defense from being tricked into raising another man's child. Which is why that Kary Mullis should be the civil rights hero to sluts everywhere.

The dating market value of an unblemished reputation declined (and the value of being a fun chick increased) because DNA testing now allows husbands to, as Reagan would say, trust but verify.

Born to Kill said...

"Second, Wright’s pictorial flair is close to overwhelming, reminiscent of Baz Luhrman’s in his 2001 Moulin Rouge."

Really? Then, this is a movie to avoid. Luhrman's MOULIN was unwatchable.

Anonymous said...

This belongs to the Horny Aristocratess genre.

Theodor Fontane's EFFI BRIEST is also a classic in this vein.

And UK redid WUTHERING HEIGHTS with a Negro.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKcQBUHzjd0

Anonymous said...

MADAME BOVARY is another one.

Now, why did all those male authors feel so much sympathy for women who fooled around? Because they fantasized the women fooling around with THEM?

The best fooling-around-woman movie:

EARRINGS OF MADAME DE:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwoqaNDlxJs

Anonymous said...

PRIVATE CONFESSIONS, another movie about a woman who goes off with another man.

I can understand women fantasizing such stuff--as with Bronte and Campion--, but why did so many male authors write about such stuff?
PRIVATE CONFESSIONS was directed by Ullmann but written by Bergman... and based on his own mother.
Geez.

Anonymous said...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/mediamonkeyblog/2012/nov/19/rupert-murdoch-twitter-fail

Murdoch in hot water for telling the truth. If a man as powerful as Murdoch can get in trouble for this, imagine all the people in the lower food chain of journalism.

Anonymous said...

"A man who doesn't spend time with his family cannot be a real man."

So, if you're a white con, you better have kids. Or you're not a real man.

Anonymous said...

From Pawn to Predominance.

A story of a certain people.

Anonymous said...

OT, but interesting: It looks like the Mall of America is deploying an indirect method to prevent black youth flashmobs. The Mall of America had a major black youth flashmob and violent riot involving 200 people last December. Presumably other malls and public spaces will be implementing similar rules and we will be seeing more of these indirect methods.

"Mall of America latest to brace for Black Friday as they ban teens from shopping without a parent

Busiest mall in the country cracking down on unattended teens
Deal-frenzied shoppers started lining up outside stores on Monday
Many shops will store driver's license information to keep track of how often certain shoppers make returns after Black Friday"

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2236044/Mall-America-latest-brace-Black-Friday-ban-teens-shopping-parent.html

Anonymous said...

anon said:
Now, why did all those male authors feel so much sympathy for women who fooled around?

Tolstoy doesn't have sympathy but rather pity for Anna Karenina. As far as I can remember (from almost 20 years ago), he pretty much tortures and kills her, disgracefully. His real sympathies lie with Kittie and Leo (his namesake).

BB said...

... the unsexy bureaucrat Karenin. ...
Please Steve, stop channelling Whiskey! Lol!

BTW, why did they cast fey Aaron Johnson to play the lover, and masculine Jude Law to play the cuckolded husband? Does it work on the screen?

Carol said...

"His real sympathies lie with Kittie and Leo (his namesake)."

I thought the whole point of the novel was to show the impossibility of being happy by making others unhappy. Or the unlikeliness thereof...that story, Madam Bovary and other lesser novels seem to foretell the modern trend of divorce or affairs initiated by wives "because I'm just not happy and we can see how that usually turns out.

Tolstoy was a genius!

Anonymous said...

I just have a problem buying all these Brits as Russians.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"And UK redid WUTHERING HEIGHTS with a Negro."

Only if one believes in American style one drop claptrap. The actor was mixed-race.

FredR said...

You never read it? Come on, man. It's actually the best novel ever written.

The famous story about it is that Tolstoy started the book with Anna as an unpleasant villain, but through revisions she gradually became a larger, more tragic figure.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

MADAME BOVARY is another one.

Now, why did all those male authors feel so much sympathy for women who fooled around? Because they fantasized the women fooling around with THEM?"

I don't think that Flaubert had too much sympathy for Madame Bovary. As I recall, she ended up eating rat poison, a not very stylish way to commit suicide.

Dutch Boy said...

"Wright’s film depicts the staggering amount of wealth piled up in Imperial Russia by aristocratic families—much of it spent by women on fashion."
Just so - such systems end up with the commune and the guillotine.

Mr. Anon said...

Keira Knightley, her face seemingly frozen in rictus, is spindly and bony to the point of being unattractive

The last movie version of AK featured Sophie Marceau, a true beauty, and quite suited to the part. Kate Winslet would have been good in the role, if she were a bit younger. Certainly they could have found some actress more appealing than the angular, skeletal Ms. Knightley.

Kylie said...

"RE: Jude Law

Have there been any exceptionally handsome character actors before? I don't really recall any."


Paul Scofield, though, like Law, he played both leads and character parts.

Paul Scofield

And of course, Ken Curtis, better known as "Festus".

Ken Curtis

Festus

Kylie said...

"'A man who doesn't spend time with his family cannot be a real man.'

So, if you're a white con, you better have kids. Or you're not a real man."


Too busy drinking the Kool Aid to master basic reading comprehension?

The quotation was, "A man who doesn't spend time with his family cannot be a real man" not "A man who does not have kids cannot be a real man". Your misreading of that statement is a sentiment more common among black ghetto dwellers, who spend more time and effort conceiving their offspring than they do providing for them. The pity of it that so many white conservatives, in all good conscience, feel obligated to take up their slack. What a mistake that has proven to be.

Steve Sailer said...

"It's actually the best novel ever written."

Watching the movie, I wouldn't argue -- it seems like a great story.

FredR said...

Nabokov, in his famous lectures on Russian Literature, said of Tolstoy "Readers call Tolstoy a giant not because other writers are dwarfs but because he remains always exactly of our own stature, exactly keeping pace with us instead of passing by in the distance, as other authors do."

When I think of Anna Karenina, I'm always reminded of William James' letter to Bergson:

"...such a flavor of persistent euphony, as of a rich river that never foamed or ran thin, but steadily and firmly proceeded with its banks full to the brim."

Hunsdon said...

Beowulf said: DNA testing now allows husbands to, as Reagan would say, trust but verify.

Hunsdon replied: Particularly when we are discussing a Tolstoy novel, even in filmed format, it would be appropriate to note that Reagan was quoting a Russian folk aphorism. "Trust, but verify," is just доверяй, но проверяй.

DanJ said...

I try not to see any movie with Keira Knightley, after seeing her in that horrible version of "Pride and Predjudice" a few years back. And don't get me started on the fool trying to pass for Mr. Darcy!

Anonymous said...

Russian novels, however, are notorious for their endless characters with endless names. For example, Anna’s husband is Count Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin, while her lover is Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky. In his narration, Tolstoy gets around this self-inflicted problem by calling the father of Anna’s son “Alexei Alexandrovich” and the father of her daughter “Vronsky.”

Alexandrovich, Kirillovich are not middle names. They are patronymics--"son of Alexander", "son of Kirill". In Russian culture, calling someone by first name and patronymic is a sign of respect. That's how you call your school teacher, your boss, your aged neighbor (or any other senior). In the 19th century, that's how many Russians called their parents. When Tolstoy calls Karenin "Alexei Alexandrovich" he is emphasizing his age and respectability.

wren said...

I'll put in my usual plug for Android Karenina, and wish that someone would make it into a movie.

Mr. Anon said...

"FredR said...

You never read it? Come on, man. It's actually the best novel ever written."

I've only read part of it (hope to finish it someday). Though I read "War and Peace" and thought it was terrific. Reasonable people can, of course disagree, and I honor your opinion, but - with respect - I submit Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" as the greatest novel(la) ever written.

unix said...

Wuthering Heights cast a "Negro." If it's who I think you mean, he's not a "Negro." Heathcliff, in the book, was an abandoned child the heroine's father found on the streets of Liverpool. The book implied by turns that the child might be of Irish origin, an image evoked by the famine raging at time the book was written, though not at the time in which the story was set. But Heathcliff was described as dark, and dare we say it, foreign and exotic looking, with black hair and a brooding swarthy face. At one point the kindly servant comforts him for his feelings of otherness, by assuring him that he might have come from the "Prince of China." I don't think 18th c. rural servants on moors knew much about the Chinese.
Anyway, point is, Heathcliff played by a person of vaguely "mixed" origins actually makes sense, unlike some of the insane casting suggested by the goofier pc media people out there.

unix said...

Have there been any exceptionally handsome character actors before? I don't really recall any.

"

Farley Granger. One the handsomest men I've ever seen. Or at any rate, he was back in the early 50s.

Rohan Swee said...

Now, why did all those male authors feel so much sympathy for women who fooled around?

Gee, I dunno. Because being great novelists they had a passing interest in the human condition? But yeah, exploring the conflict between marriage and love, duty and desire does seem to be a weird niche obsession.

Rohan Swee said...

I've never seen a filmed version of Anna K. that didn't strike me as grossly miscast. There was a beyond-bad BBC effort a few years back, misconceived from start to finish. Didn't think it could get worse. But Keira Knightly? Gak.

Saw the trailer. Looked godawful bad.

Hunsdon said...

Anonydroid at 11:38 pm said: Alexandrovich, Kirillovich are not middle names. They are patronymics--"son of Alexander", "son of Kirill".

Hunsdon expanded: Similarly, "daughter of Alexei" would be Alexandrovna, "daughter of Kirill" would be Kirillovna. Merely a linguistic observation.

Oh dear: whatever shall Hunsdon do if a poster here actually adopts the nom du internet of "Anonydroid"? The thought is, indeed, distressing.