'Anna Karenina' from a Bookworm's Perspective

By Alyssa Irby on December 21, 2012

Taken by Alyssa Irby

Having read Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, I was over joyed when I learned that there was a new movie coming out this fall. Let this be seen as a book reader’s review of the new take on Anna Karenina, directed by Joe Wright. Wright has also directed movies such as Atonement (2007), Pride and Prejudice (2005), and Hanna (2011). The movie stars Keira Knightley as Anna herself, Jude Law as her husband, Karenin, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Count Vronsky.

The book is extremely long, so going into the show I knew there would be a couple scenes left out, as there are with most book-to-movie conversions. I didn’t expect such a large difference; almost the entire film was shot as if it were on a stage. The foreshadowing image of a train was also much more explicit than in the book. As quoted by the director “[on filming 'Anna Karenina'] If there was a scene in the book about love then it was in, and if it wasn’t about love it was out. So if the audiences are interested in farming practices of the 1800s, they’re going to be disappointed.” I found the scenes that needed to be included were in fact included and then some.

All of the actors were wonderful, but I found Jude Law’s role as Karenin to be outstanding. The transfer between the stage setting to a rural one was brilliant. I did find some instances in which everything was perfectly in sync to be a bit ‘musical theater-esque’ for my taste, but it wasn’t so much to the point that I began to dislike the film. I definitely recommend seeing the movie, but it is likely to be extremely confusing for anyone who has not read the book. Even then, there are certain instances when even I was confused as to whom the dialogue was referring. Though, I will not give the film a numerical rating, I will say that it was quite good, but I would encourage everyone to read the book first.


Just a girl trying to get from point A to point B via C, D, E, F, G, etc. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, but looking for excitement elsewhere before returning back to familiar faces and habits. Lover of all things wild and beautiful and important.

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