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The Envelope Screening Series

'Anna Karenina': Director Joe Wright on his stylized approach

November 20, 2012|By Oliver Gettell

Truly, all the world's a stage in director Joe Wright's "Anna Karenina," a new adaptation of the Tolstoy classic about high-society scandal in 19th century Imperial Russia. In making the film, which stars Keira Knightley and Jude Law, Wright took the bold stylistic step of framing much of the story as a sort of meta-theatrical performance, with action taking place in a crumbling theater.

In this excerpt from The Envelope Screening Series with the Los Angeles Times' Rebecca Keegan, Wright discusses the inspiration for his approach to the film.

While scouting locations in Russia, Wright said, "I just felt like I was kind of treading paths that a lot of other people had trod before me. And for a long time I’d wanted to kind of experiment with stylization and the idea that to stylize is about subtraction rather than decoration."

While thinking about his previous films "Atonement" and "Pride and Prejudice," which were set largely in one place, Wright pondered what sort of location could contain "Anna Karenina."

"That led me to think about the Orlando Figes book 'Natasha’s Dance,'" Wright said. In the book, a cultural survey of Russian history, Figes "talks about Russian society of the time living their lives as if upon a stage. … They were constantly performing for one another; life seemed to have been a bit of a performance for them. So the theater seemed like an appropriate metaphor."


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