Considering its daunting production difficulties and director Joe Wright’s last-minute decision to totally change the look and meta-narrative of the film, there’s an almost storybook quality to the Oscar nominations haul by “Anna Karenina” on Thursday morning.
That fact is not lost on Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer, who were nominated for achievement in production design for their work on the lavish adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel.
“We didn’t start out making the film we ended up with,” Greenwood said from “rainy, freezing London” on Thursday. “We started off with a fairly conventional approach. Then, 12 weeks out [before shooting] we turned around and Joe decided to set it all in the theater. It was a completely different concept. But it was the most amazing thing to happen. We were grinding into the mud. Didn’t have enough money or resources. It was an amazing decision. It really gave us a boost.”
Setting the film’s action amid a faux theatrical tableau to hammer home the plot point that 19th century Russian aristocracy was a gigantic dog and pony show allowed the filmmaker to ratchet up the movie’s visual razzle-dazzle, leading to Oscar nominations for cinematographer Seamus McGarvey and costumer Jacqueline Duran.