Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: Jesse Eisenberg And Kristen Stewart Go On In The Run In Red Band Trailer For 'American Ultra' Watch: Jesse Eisenberg And Kristen Stewart Go On In The Run In Red Band Trailer For 'American Ultra' Tilda Swinton Joins Benedict Cumberbatch In 'Doctor Strange' Tilda Swinton Joins Benedict Cumberbatch In 'Doctor Strange' Watch: Jason Segel Plays David Foster Wallace Opposite Jesse Eisenberg In The First Trailer For ‘The End Of The Tour’ Watch: Jason Segel Plays David Foster Wallace Opposite Jesse Eisenberg In The First Trailer For ‘The End Of The Tour’ The Top 10 Films Of The 2015 Cannes Film Festival The Top 10 Films Of The 2015 Cannes Film Festival 5 Innovative Ways The Michael Fassbender/Marion Cotillard 'Macbeth' Differs From Previous Versions 5 Innovative Ways The Michael Fassbender/Marion Cotillard 'Macbeth' Differs From Previous Versions New ‘Ant-Man’ Photos; Movie May Include More Marvel Cinematic Universe Characters New ‘Ant-Man’ Photos; Movie May Include More Marvel Cinematic Universe Characters Over 30 New 'Jurassic World' Photos, Plus 2 New Clips & Lots Of New TV Spots Over 30 New 'Jurassic World' Photos, Plus 2 New Clips & Lots Of New TV Spots Matt Damon Goes Interstellar Again In New Pics From Ridley Scott's 'The Martian' Matt Damon Goes Interstellar Again In New Pics From Ridley Scott's 'The Martian' Cannes Awards Winners: Jacques Audiard's 'Dheepan' Wins Palme d’Or; Rooney Mara Ties For Best Actress With ‘Carol’ Cannes Awards Winners: Jacques Audiard's 'Dheepan' Wins Palme d’Or; Rooney Mara Ties For Best Actress With ‘Carol’ First Look: Matt Damon As An Astronaut In Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’ First Look: Matt Damon As An Astronaut In Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’ Cannes Review: Justin Kurzel's 'Macbeth' Starring Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard Cannes Review: Justin Kurzel's 'Macbeth' Starring Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard Watch: Incredible Vintage Footage Of Audience Reactions To 'The Exorcist' In 1973 Watch: Incredible Vintage Footage Of Audience Reactions To 'The Exorcist' In 1973 Lonely Island Movie Is Called 'Conner4real,’ Targets Justin Bieber & Katy Perry, Adds Sarah Silverman, Imogen Poots, & More Lonely Island Movie Is Called 'Conner4real,’ Targets Justin Bieber & Katy Perry, Adds Sarah Silverman, Imogen Poots, & More Here's The Character Backstory For Doof aka Guitar Flamethrower Dude In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Here's The Character Backstory For Doof aka Guitar Flamethrower Dude In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' The 10 Most Controversial Cannes Films Ever The 10 Most Controversial Cannes Films Ever New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Joe Wright Says He Wanted To Work With Keira Knightley Again & "Challenge" The Conventions Of Naturalism In The Stylized 'Anna Karenina'

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist September 11, 2012 at 4:35PM

Near the eleventh hour of pre-production, while director Joe Wright (“Atonement,” “Hanna”) was preparing to shoot his adaptation of “Anna Karenina,” it became clear that the budget was going to be an issue -- plans to shoot on location were causing the film’s budget to double in cost. As such, Wright and his team had to quickly rethink the picture. As it turns out, they reimagined it with ideas that had been simmering in the filmmaker’s mind for quite some time.
3
Joe Wright, Anna Karenina

Near the eleventh hour of pre-production, while director Joe Wright (“Atonement,” “Hanna”) was preparing to shoot his adaptation of “Anna Karenina,” it became clear that the budget was going to be an issue -- plans to shoot on location were causing the film’s budget to double in cost. As such, Wright and his team had to quickly rethink the picture. As it turns out, they reimagined it with ideas that had been simmering in the filmmaker’s mind for quite some time.

"Society at the time was living upon a stage, so the metaphor of theater felt appropriate."

When we spoke to the director at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this week, he told us that he’d been hoping to veer away from pure realism for a while. “I use necessity as an excuse, really,” Wright said of the concept to drop locations and instead film almost the entire movie on soundstages. “ I’d been wanting to challenge the conventions of naturalism a little bit more than I had before. So these ideas had been percolating for a while. I was looking in locations in the U.K. and Russia,” Wright told us, “and I was hoping to create a performance style that was more gestural and physical and I was planning to work with this choreographer [Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui], and then I got really frustrated one day and found myself wondering... I didn’t know how I was going to marry this performance style with these naturalistic locations.”

Given the pop-art madness of his previous film, “Hanna,” it’s not surprising that Wright found himself chaffing against the constrictions of reality, and the frustrations were doubled by the fact that much of the money would have been spent “on hotels and travel expenses,” rather than seen on screen. Furthermore, the director found himself nostalgically thinking back to the filming of “Pride and Prejudice” and “Atonement” where much of the shoot took place in a single location. So Wright thought, if this was shot in one location, what would it be?

“The theater sprang to my mind,” Wright says. “That came from a lot of research, thinking about society at the time as living upon a stage, and how we all play different roles in different times in our lives, and the way that in which Anna is feeling miscast in the role of a mother and dutiful wife and wanting to break free of that role... so the metaphor of theater seemed appropriate. I started testing the idea out on people and the first person I talked to was my designer, Sarah Greenwood, and she leapt on it.”

The major exception to the rule is the character of Levin (Domhnall Gleeson), who is central to the novel (Wright told us that he’s Tolstoy’s surrogate in the novel), but often gets short shrift in film translations. Tom Stoppard’s adaptation makes him just as important, if not more important, to the film than Anna, and the theatrical conceit was also a way, as Wright says, of depicting “the way Levin is seeing a more authentic way of life without pretense... The idea that Levin turns his back on the theater of society and goes back into the real world.”

As such, Levin’s scenes in the countryside were shot on location, a stark change of pace from the often-claustrophobic feel of the rest of the film. Even then, however, it’s not pure naturalism -- as Wright points out “in a way, it’s a cinematic reality he’s walking into,” rather than an absolute real world.

This article is related to: Anna Karenina, Joe Wright, Keira Knightley, TIFF, Interviews


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates