‘Anna Karenina’ opens at Ragtag, challenges ordinary cinematography

Trisha Chaudhary

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Set in the late 19th century Russian society and starring Keira Knightley (Pirates of the Caribbean) and Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes), Anna Karenina tells the story of an aristocrat, Anna Karenina, whose life changes after she enters in an affair with the charming Count Vronsky.
After watching Atonement and The Duchess (two incredible films set in older times and starring Keira Knightley that I highly suggest), I had become a total sucker for any old-timey movie with Keira Knightley.
Afraid the movie would sell out—which it almost was—I decided to buy my ticket early. When I told my dad where I was going, he immediately showered me with the poor reviews the movie received from critics.
“It’s not supposed to be very good,” he warned me. But my mind was set.
Based off of Leo Tolstoy’s novel, Anna Karenina, some critics say the movie is a poor comparison to the book and that the actors fail to connect with the audience. I, however, had not read the book, so I went into the movie with an open mind.
Probably the unique thing about Anna Karenina is that it is filmed more like a 19th century play than a movie. The transitions are  more like those on stage and in plays and musicals than in typical movies. For example, in one scene, two characters go out for dinner, and as they sit down in two chairs facing each other, the walls, table and food are simultaneously placed around them, creating the set right there and then.
In another scene, Karenin (Jude Law) sits watching his children in a field, and as the camera zooms out, you see he is sitting in a field on top of a stage in an old fashioned theater. It’s really quite confusing and is one of those things that you have to see to understand.
Initially, the constantly moving camera left my head spinning and my eyes unable to focus on anything on screen. But as the movie, as well as my eyes, settled down, I grew to like the unique cinematography. It complimented the intricate sets and extravagant costumes and created a much more theatrical feel. With its dramatic music and filming, Anna Karenina was as close to a musical as it could be without actually being a musical.
The movie begins with Anna (Keira Knightley) making an unanticipated visit to her brother’s home in Moscow from her’s in St. Petersburg. There, she meets Count Vronsky, with whom she has immediate chemistry (on screen and otherwise), and enters a whirlwind affair with him. The story follows the societal repercussions of her affair during imperial Russia.
Not only were many of the characters good-looking, but they also embraced their roles fully, making the story believable. Anna Karenina, though a tragic love story that could rival many other classics, left me craving a dramatic love affair with a handsome, rich aristocrat.
Though this movie might not be your cup of tea, it was mine, and I would highly recommend paying the $8.50 to go see it at Ragtag Cinema.
By Trisha Chaudhary
Have you read the book? What did I miss? How do you think it compares with the movie?