Tom Stoppard’s Screenplay of Tolstoy “Anna Karenina” Called “Right On”

I am so looking forward to this movie. It has many of my film favorites: Keira Knightley; Matthew Macfadyen; Olivia Williams; Ruth Wilson; Thomas Howes. Plus, I love Tom Stoppard’s take on the Russian history. His “Coast of Utopia” trilogy was brilliant. (It starred Jennifer Ehle (the 1995 Elizabeth Bennet), who won a Tony Award.) I am pleased to find more information on the film available. Below find an article from The Daily Mail. There’s a link to read the complete story.

Stunning as always: Keira Knightley turns in a great performance as Anna Karenina


Last updated at 7:49 AM on 27th January 2012

Keira Knightley, as Anna Karenina, emerges from the mist, her gaze focussed on her husband — and her lover — played by Jude Law and Aaron Johnson, respectively.

The actress is wearing an embroidered coat that sweeps the floor, a hat trimmed in fox fur — and £1 million worth of Chanel gems, dangling from her ears.

The costume designer, Jacqueline Durran, has at the request of director Joe Wright, created a hybrid look for Keira, in which 1870s style meets fitted Fifties couture, and the result is stunning.

Big screen starlet: Keira Knightley Big screen starlet: Keira Knightley

Anna Karenina is Tolstoy’s giant meditation on the aspects of love, and Keira, now 26, is clearly up to the task of playing one of the greatest heroines in literature.

I’ve been following Keira’s career for years, but as I stood looking at her on the set of Anna Karenina, something had changed. The film’s hair and make-up designer Ivana Primorac articulated my thoughts. ‘Keira looks like a proper woman,’ she says. Director Joe Wright, who is filming the train station scene at Shepperton studios, tells me: ‘There’s fire in Keira’s belly.”

Triple threat: The new adaptation has a screenplay written by Shakespeare in Love writer Tom Stoppard and is directed by Atonement's Joe Wright Triple threat: The new adaptation has a screenplay written by Shakespeare in Love writer Tom Stoppard and is directed by Atonement’s Joe Wright. He’s directing her for the third time, having worked with her on Pride and Prejudice and Atonement. And he agrees that Keira has grown up. ‘She’s her own woman — she’s got so much fight in her at the moment,’ he says, as he watches her being framed by Seamus McGarvey, the director of photography, and camera operator Peter Robertson.

He tells me that Keira’s taken a lot of stick in England, in the years since they last worked together. ‘A lot of young actors would have gone “Up yours!’ and gone off to Hollywood. But she braved it out, and it has made her stronger — and fiercer,’ Wright adds, with a slightly nervous laugh. The director believes Keira is more than ready to play Anna — but not a 20th-century feminist version of Anna, ‘following her heart.’

‘As far as Tolstoy was concerned, he was writing a book about a woman who was a sinner — a fallen woman,’ Wright says. ‘He wasn’t writing about her as a heroine. He started off writing this book about a good husband and a bad wife. But then, as he  wrote, he fell in love with Anna.’

Wright’s basing his version of Tolstoy’s great novel on a powerful screenplay by Tom Stoppard, in which the playwright gives equal weight to the parallel stories of Anna’s cuckolding of her husband Karenin (Law), and her passionate affair with Count Vronsky (Johnson), and also the romance between Levin (Domhnall Gleeson) and Kitty (Alicia Vikander). Stoppard’s view is that most previous versions made the mistake of favouring Anna’s story over Levin’s. ‘Tom turned in one draft and it was all there,’ marvels producer Paul Webster.

Tim Bevan of Working Title, who is making the film for Focus Films and Universal, told me it’s the first time Wright has worked with a great screenplay. ‘Joe’s had good scripts, but this is a great one,’ says Bevan, a man not known for idle overstatement.

Wright and his long-time design collaborator Sarah Greenwood checked out locations in St. Petersburg, and stately homes in the UK (particularly in Yorkshire) which could double as Russian homes.

But the more Wright studied Russian cultural history, the more he realised he didn’t want to shoot a conventional costume drama. The eureka moment came as he pored over Orlando Figes’s study of Russian cultural history, Natasha’s Dance, which suggested the aristocrats of St. Petersburg in the 1870s were more western European in their behaviour than Russian. ‘The aristocrats spoke Italian, English and French — and Russian only to the serfs. There was a sense that they were always playing parts,’ producer Webster explained.

So Wright hit on the idea of doing an expressionistic version of Anna Karenina, emphasising that theatricality. Greenwood designed a theatre on a soundstage at Shepperton, from which the action would flow. You go through a door and there’s a train station; go through another and there’s a snowy street, or a forest of silver birch. While most of the filming was done on lavish sets, there were real life locations, too; and some shooting is being done in Russia, for the more naturalistic scenes involving Levin and Kitty. Ornate tableaux peopled with extras of Russian heritage, all choreographed to move in a certain way.

And the cast is as rich as Greenwood’s sets. Ruth Wilson (“Jane Eyre”) plays Princess Betsy; Olivia Williams(“Miss Austen Regrets”) is Countess Vronsky; Emily Watson plays Countess Lydia; Kelly Macdonald is Dolly; and Matthew Macfadyen (“Pride and Prejudice” and “The Three Musketeers”), Oblonsky.

Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery has been cast as Princess Myagkaya, while her former co-star Thomas Howes (William, the ill-fated footman) plays Yashvin.

Read more:

About reginajeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and historical romantic suspense.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Tom Stoppard’s Screenplay of Tolstoy “Anna Karenina” Called “Right On”

  1. Sophia Rose says:

    I had no idea they were remaking this and, wow, what a cast of actors. I want to see this too.

    Thanks for the share!

    • The only thing that scares me is Stoppard’s screenplay. I loved his “Coast of Utopia,” but the Broadway reviews spoke of needing a degree in Russian literature to understand what was going on. It was a daunting read.

  2. Scriptor Obscura says:

    Since you enjoy period dramas, you will really enjoy this YouTube channel, which contains a number of period dramas and excellent period series in their entirety. Here it is:

    Enjoy! 😀

Comments are closed.