Based on one of my favourite books of all time, by the magnificent Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (2012) is a tragic story about love and lust, society, marriage, loyalty, and the conflict between traditional and modern Russian values. It centres on the titular character Anna (Keira Knightley), who is in a stable but monotonous relationship with her husband, the Count Alexei Karenin (Jude Law). Anna finds herself becoming attracted to the young Count Alexei Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), with whom she begins a passionate affair; an affair which will change her life forever.
I watched this film halfway through a seven-ish hour flight from London to Singapore. I honestly can’t remember much about the actors, and whether their portrayal of the characters were effective or convincing. I was so knocked out by being on planes for most of the day that I just sat in my cramped economy-class seat and let the beautiful images of this film take control of my brain. I’ve been planning to make a post about this film that highlights the simply amazing cinematography, so, here goes.
The aesthetics of this film are simply gorgeous. Its palette consists of rich, jewel-tone colours, with an emphasis on sumptuous reds and golds that symbolise the strength of the Russian empire. The film is structured around a stage, as if the characters’ (particularly Anna’s) actions are acted out publicly for an audience to see, and to judge. The film is quite heavy on the stage analogy during the beginning of the film, but this eases into the middle and is revived by the end; so the analogy doesn’t get too stale over time.
Every frame of Anna Karenina is constructed beautifully. The film is like a moving work of art. The characters move together as if they’re dancing, and each scene seems to be choreographed to look as elegant and effortless as possible. It is actually a joy to watch, if not for the actors, but for the construction of the film as a whole. I remember feeling that the aesthetics of the film slightly distracted from the story, which could be a valid criticism of the film; or, it could just have been my jetlag preemptively setting in.
As in my previous posts, I’ve shuffled these images around so as not to spoil the entire film. Let me know if you’ve seen this one, and which shots/images are your favourites!
Film rating: 2/5
Cinematography rating: 4.5/5
Watch the trailer here.
All images sourced from Kissthemgoodbye.net.