Anna Karenina is a new vision adapted from Leo Tolstoy’s novel, set in 1874 Imperial Russia. The film explores the lavish society of the time and the consequences of a chance meeting between Anna and a young cavalry officer.
The story takes place in a rundown theater, which is cleverly employed to show the artificial nature of society and it’s impending collapse, and also manages to depict the huge class differences found in Russia during that time period. The set pieces are well distressed, and the attention to detail is impressive. Overall, I liked this approach – even though purists may complain that it’s not an accurate way to depict a Tolstoy story, it does manage to keep a modern audience interested.
The same dilemma can be attributed to the costumes by designer Jacqueline Durran. I think they are beautiful, but they are far from historically accurate. Most of the female characters’ gowns show a mix of contemporary and historic silhouettes, rendering them more familiar to modern eyes, while the men’s costumes are simplified versions of what would have actually been worn. For both the costumes and the set dressings, the fabric choices are sumptuous and appealing. And there’s also several million dollars’ worth of Chanel jewelry to be seen!
Director Joe Wright’s adaptation is a visually stunning feast with its lavish costumes and period set design; sure to inspire designers and stylists for some time.
Reviewer: Michael Black, FIDM Museum Coordinator