02 January 2013

Anna Karenina

One of the things that I do almost without fail each week is to go see a movie – or a film – with friends. Part of this is for the joy of seeing those friends each week, part is the wonder of often having seen most of the films in the running for various awards (at least the North American ones), but mostly it is my way of ensuring that I don't retreat from the world, leaving home only to work and shop for essentials.

The odd thing about this is that I haven't been sharing any of that experience here, at least not on a regular basis. So if I need to frame this in the form of a New Year's resolution, so be it: I resolve to share my film experiences on my blog, with no pretension of being a film reviewer or anything other than some guy who happened to be in the cinema while the projection was going on.

With that out of the way, I shall move on to my first share….

Today, we went to see Anna Karenina, the 2012 version directed by Joe Wright. It was long, but we really didn't feel the length in the way that we did for Les Misérables or Laurence Anyways (which we saw last year, prior to my resolution to share!).

This film was a real feast for the eyes and the ears. Luxurious costumes and sets, lovely musical score, but the best thing of all was just how stylish it all felt. The official trailer will give you a good foretaste of the style…frozen characters who come to life together, the sweeping back of a curtain or the opening of a door that lead to a whole other set. The fact that the horse race thunders across the stage in the ballroom, or that this stage also seems to be the box at the opera when all of the gathered audience turns to stare disapprovingly at Mrs. Karenin.

(I'm just enough of a snob to point out that the addition of an "a" at the end of a Russian surname designates the wife – or at least a woman – but that the name should be naturalized into English without the "a". Or at least that what Vladimir Nabokov thinks, according to Wikipedia.)

So it was beautiful, stylish and what have I forgotten?... oh yes: populated by some extremely attractive actors! Luckily some of those sumptuous costumes do come off, or are substituted for farmhand wear from time to time. One of my friends on Facebook nominated it for the film of 2012 with the largest number of attractive men in the cast, which ought to be a category, as should its corollary. The two hours and nine minutes really flew by and almost left me wanting to see it again.

One last note. We have a habit of watching the credits at the end of the films we see, and given the presence of dogs and horses in this one, we were waiting to see whether we would see the "No animals were harmed®" that are the hallmark of so many film productions. Not this one. No, I don't think they actually shot that horse or even harmed it, but the note at then of this one was even more comprehensive – a note about having been filmed with a view to reducing the environmental impact. Green beats animal rights in my books any day (without endorsing or tolerating any cruelty to animals). But then again, I'm probably only alive because of a certain amount of pharmaceutical testing on animals, so I might be in a conflict of interest.

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