Knightley and Macfadyen hit the screens again

A film that “powerfully explores the capacity for love that surges through the human heart – Official synopsis

It is Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen in the 1800s and directed by Joe Wright… but it’s not Pride and Prejudice. Don’t fear, if you loved the 2005 Pride and Prejudice adaptation, then you’ll most likely love this as the Jane Austen and Regency literature connections are never ending.

It’s Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, another period piece from Studio Canal (as was Pride and Prej, Atonement and Bridget Jones) and Working Title Films (also responsible for The Tudors, Elizabeth, Atonement, Pride and Prejudice and potentially the next Bridget Jones). It’s in post-production and will be here this year. After our re-starring of Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle in The King’s Speech, I’m happy to have another Lizzy and Darcy back together again – regardless of the setting!

Firstly, just an apology as this will be an exercise in name-dropping at its finest. It’s extremely difficult to explain just how close in tone and feel that I believe it will be to Pride and Prejudice (with perhaps some more light and shade) without explaining who will be working on it. I also feel that the film industry is one of the most incestuous in so far as cross-overs with actors and directors, and who knows who. So bear with me!

As the last version of Anna Karenina was in 2000 and was a mini-series, the last film was in 1997. I have seen neither of them, in fact I will be the first to put my hand up and say I have never watched a Tolstoy adaptation… but I will be queuing up for this one.

One thing I adored about the 2005 P&P was Dario Marinelli’s soundtrack (which I play on my iPhone daily while on my train commute) and we will have his beautiful music back again with a new soundtrack for the film. We will also see the same production designer (Sarah Greenwood) as well as the Jane Eyre and Mansfield Park editor Melanie Oliver.

While Tolstoy and Austen are as far from similar as many can get (despite both inspiring Quirk mashups – Android Karenina and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies respectively), I really think that the stylistic elements of this film are going to be incredibly similar. This is also striking when we consider the locations. For another Jane Austen link, we need only look to the recorded filming locations so far. Despite the fact that some locations will, undoubtedly, be Russian, the National Trust in England’s Ham House and gardens, Richmond, Surrey, has been used for The Young Victoria and Never Let Me Go before, but it was also used in the incredible 2008 mini-series for Sense and Sensibility. It has now been used again for Anna Karenina and is a 17th Century wonderland.

Tom Stoppard wrote the screenplay, and for those in love with words – and I suppose most of us are, as Janeites – he has very much a Shakespearean touch, having also carved out the beautiful phrases for Shakespeare in Love, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead as well as for the play Dogg’s Hamlet, Cahoot’s Macbeth. We’ll also see Jude Law this time round (lush) while Ruth Wilson (Jane Eyre 2006), Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) and Emily Watson (Breaking the Waves) will also be starring in the film.

Kelly Macdonald (Finding Neverland, Trainspotting), Alexandra Roach (The Iron Lady), Aaron Johnson (The Illusionist), Holliday Grainger (from the latest Jane Eyre) and Domhnall Gleeson (Harry Potter and another Knightley Flick- Never Let Me Go) are also starring. A really good cast, and a mixture of some very well known faces with some up and comers, Wright has a habit of either making or picking upcoming stars (think Casey Mulligan from Pride and Prej 2005).

The film will be released on August 7th this year in America (although other reports are saying September so keep your eyes peeled and let me know).

Saoirse Ronan from The Lovely Bones and Atonement turned down a role due to other filming requirements, as did James McAvoy (Becoming Jane), Andrea Riseborough (Never Let Me Go), Benedict Cumberbatch (Atonement) and Cate Blanchett (The Lord of The Rings) while ImDb also suggests that Robert Pattinson was considered for a role.

For the interested, and who don’t know much about the book, the official synopsis released explains:

“The third collaboration of Academy Award nominee Keira Knightley with director Joe Wright, following the award-winning box office successes “Pride & Prejudice” and “Atonement,” is the epic love story “Anna Karenina,” adapted from Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel by Academy Award winner Tom Stoppard (“Shakespeare in Love”). The story unfolds in its original late-19th-century Russia high-society setting and powerfully explores the capacity for love that surges through the human heart, from the passion between adulterers to the bond between a mother and her children. As Anna (Ms. Knightley) questions her happiness, change comes to her family, friends, and community.”

So, what do we think? Pride and prejudice-style masterpiece or will it be far from the 2005 film? Do you know anything else about it?

Check out this trailer for the 1997 Anna Karenina adaptations:


(And for the Shakespeare buffs, yep, that’s Sophie Marceau who played Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream AND she was in James Bond)

1 Comment

Filed under A good find, Discussion, Movie Review, Preview

One response to “Knightley and Macfadyen hit the screens again

  1. I every time spent my half an hour to read this blogs content every day along with a cup of coffee.

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