Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Anna Karenina - Movie Review

I really wonder if I will ever read some of the classics. It gives me some solace that I have at least watched movies made from the same. Anna Karenina is one such classic that I may or may not read. However I got the gist from the 2012 movie starring Jude Law and Kiera Knightley and am glad for it.

Set in Russia of a few centuries gone by, Anna Karenina, is the tale of great passions. Anna, married to Alexei Karenin, a high-ranking beaurocrat, and a good man and husband, falls head over heels in love with Alexei Vronsky, a young officer. The fact that she is a mother of a young son, wife, does not come in the way of her passion, nor the fact that Vronsky himself is engaged to Princess Kitty. One merely has to watch them dance or look at one another to know the fires of passion that lie underneath. Anna gives up everything, and so does Vronsky, marriage, career, social standing and she even gets pregnant by Vronsky. Until she falls ill and is on the doorway to death during her delivery. Then she remembers the good husband and asks for forgiveness, so she may live. Karenin, shows that he is not merely a good man, he is a great man, and forgives her and Vronsky and makes an arrangement where he takes their child as his own. But Anna realizes that she cannot live a life like this under debt to Karenin, suspects young Vronsky of infidelity, and consumed by her own fears and guilt, commits suicide.

The great writers were all wonderful judges of human behavior, with deep insight into what drives human nature. The connection between guilt and punishment is clearly established. Each man's hell is one created by himself and this is fuelled by shame and guilt (two of the most useless and worth emotions that I have encountered). Set in any era, this tale cannot but capture the imagination of the audience mainly because of the strength of the characters, their desires and their journeys. To call it merely illicit love is not true because Anna loves Vronsky in a way that most young women do not love their good husbands. This is pure passion, sheer aliveness. It must be experienced even if it means one has to die experiencing it. That is the kind of strength a woman like Anna has. But she cannot sustain it alone, and her hell grows bigger in her mind. If Karenin, her husband had been a vile and evil man, it would have fuelled the feisty Anna's need to exist. But by being good, Alexei fuels her guilt some more and she dies.

The movie was heavily stylized and interestingly shown. Kiera Knightley is good, Jude Law understated and Aaron Johnson as Vronsky fits the part. Good for one viewing for me. Too intense.


Rajendra said...

Russians write some good tales. Dr. Zhivago was also good-the movie.

Harimohan said...

That's next on the list Raja.