“Anna Karenina” was an aesthetic masterpiece, but the storyline left some audience members confused and disconnected.
Aesthetically, the film hit the target. Director Joe Wright brought the story to life and gave the audience a genuine understanding of 19th century Russian society.
Every scene was filled with gorgeous period-appropriate architecture and patterns or with expansive landscapes. Costumes were perfectly constructed to reflect each character’s personality and role. The tension and pressures apparent in the high culture could suffocate unprepared audience members.
The filmography took place partially in the real world and partially in a Russian theater.
Many scenes were set up inside of the theater; parties, a living room, even a horse race which switched between the audience’s perspective of the horses running across the stage and the rider’s view from the horse in an actual arena.
Adjunct theater Professor Phillip Grayson suggested that this “stopped the audience from forming a real emotional attachment with the characters because every time the characters felt real, the audience was reminded that it was staged.”
First-Year Sam Ferrier, who assisted with a talk-back after the Saturday showing proposed that the theater aspect might be reflective of the spectacle that was high Russian society. Flawlessly performed choreography played an important role in completing the visual. Wright desired to make a “ballet with words” which was carried out through literal dancing, as well as through the use of unique transitions, graceful yet sensual body language, and romantic dialogue.
Scene transitions often involved a character simply walking into the next scene through a door or an open curtain, seamlessly passing through time. Characters carried themselves in a noble way that seemed as if they were floating. The way that characters inter- acted, particularly Anna and Vronsky, was playful, sensuous and serious as they reacted to each other.
Despite the success of the screen-play, the narrative failed to be fully manifested. Many audience members found the storyline to be lacking in direction and wholeness.
First-Year Kate Swartz, who has read the novel, said that the story felt “incomplete.”
Without reading the novel, many audience members felt that they were missing something, but were not quite sure what.
The stories of Levin and Anna seemed unrelated, Anna and Vronsky’s relationship deteriorated without explanation, and Kitty’s sudden altruism was an unprecedented surprise.
There was no lesson gained or denouement to explain what would happen next. With the closing scenes, most of the audience was left wondering what the point of the story had been.