Culture

Atonement's Keira Knightley and Joe Wright Re-team for Anna Karenina

Keira Knightley and director Joe Wright are to high-art literary adaptations what Robert DeNiro and Martin Scorsese are to modern gangster pictures -- a filmmaker and his actor-avatar working within a genre they've revived and redefined. Now the former duo, whose previous collaborations include "Pride and Prejudice" and "Atonement," has announced plans to continue their canon-raiding spree with a big-screen version of Anna Karenina, to be produced, like both of their previous films, by Working Title's Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner.

There's been no shortage of adaptations of Leo Tolstoy's tragic masterwork, about a restless high-society wife who makes a ruin of her life after straying from her kind-but-boring husband with an exciting-but-unreliable charmer. With its astute and unforgiving social commentary that remains enduringly relevant and its constellation of bright-burning-but-doomed shooting stars -- Anna Karenina has all the elements of epic, emotionally explosive filmmaking. And yet, even though the novel has inspired no less than twenty-five film and television incarnations, only Greta Garbo's Kareninas (she played the character twice, once in the 1927 silent adaptation of the tome, clumsily titled "Love," and then in the definitive 1937 version) withstand the test of time and live up to the promise of the source material.

In fact, Garbo and Tolstoy's doomed heroine have so much in common -- they share such an unmistakable air of mystery and an I-was-not-made-for-these-times lust for freedom -- Knightley will have to work hard to make Karenina her own. But, judging by Wright and Knightley's refreshingly original and contemporary take on such over-worked terrain as "Pride and Prejudice," perhaps even Garbo might approve of her successors.

Keira Knightley photo (c) Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

  • Barbara

    She's too YOUNG and too thin to play Anna!!! I can't imagine.

  • http://facebook barbaraann

    Keira is one of my very favorite actresses. I just wish she would a little light comedy or happy love story once in a while..

    • Leah

      She did! Love Actually, and Pirates of the Caribbean is quite humorous in its way. :)

      Either way, she is who she is. Falls in depth with the dramatci films, which I personally love :)

      • Leah

        Me again! haha. I forgot, she also did Pride and Prejudice, which is a happy love story.

  • christa

    I predict it'll flop. P&P was a beautiful but not faithful adaptation and Atonement was downright dreadful. Given the dreariness that already surrounds Anna Karenina, and its bleak ending, I can't imagine they will do anything but accentuate that and leave audiences feeling depressed and wanting to offer Kiera their popcorn.

  • Donielle

    Keira Knightly!!! Playing Anna! Why would they cast such an inappropriate actress? She doesn't have the build or the maturity for Anna Karenina! And I'm not sure I want to see what their "fresh, contemporary take" on such an amazing piece of classic literature would be. I didn't particularly care for Keira Knightly's rendition of Elizabeth Bennett, and I am not optimistic about her attempting Anna's character. But, hey, they've played with almost every other piece of literature I know and love...why not Tolstoy? Watch out, Dostoevsky, you're probably next.

  • Katie

    Now if only James McAvoy starred in this too...Mmm 😉

  • Lynda

    This is one of my all time favorite books, I hope they do it justice. Greta Garbo didn't in Love". But then what they called 'Garbo's acting'...was nonsense anyway. Until Gone With The Wind was made, not too many were that good...now that was a movie well done for the times. Still is.

  • http://facebook Trisha

    Au contraire, lil' negative ones. Miss Knightley brought Jane Austen's Elisabeth Bennett to a whole world of young readers. She enlivened the classic, Pride and Prejudice, and I trust she'll do the same for my dearest Anna Karenina. I'm so excited to see this on film! This is how the very best of literature is re-introduced to a world who has forgotten! Miss Knightley is nothing if not the best period actess of our day. Brava! Excellent choice!

  • Mary

    "Atonement" the movie was a great adaptation of the book!!! What are you talking about, Christa?!?
    I am very much looking forward to seeing Keira play in this movie!

  • REBECCA

    Vivian Leigh in ANNA KARENIA is AWESOME. So BEAUTIFUL...So, trying to be GOOD, to CONFORM, even gives her husband every chance for affection & love... But, alas, he did not know about the younger handsome boy/Man lurking in the wings, so ENCHANTED with his good wife's BEAUTY , whispering in her ear all the things a woman wants to hear, UNTIL it was TOO LATE.And how CRUEL is socirty, culture, religion to EXPECT and CONDONE these things of the MALE, but so readt to EXILE, behead & STONE TO DEATH the FEMALE for the exact same feelings, desires and actions. SUICIDE is to stop the PAIN, THE UNBEARABLE SUFFERING. "ANNA KARENIA" is a MASTERPIECE. TIMELESS, with every emotion,, a mother's love, duty, happiness, security (as long as you OBEY), married love, passionate FORBIDDEN love, romance, elegant vintage clothing, jewelery, furnishings, even THE TRAIN is exquisitely beautiful in it's design. I was meant to stumble upon this film @ WALMART for the cost of 1 dollar!!! I watch it over & over & over.

  • Cat

    mature does not necessarily mean old and portly. ms. knightley has the maturity to pull it off. it would be interesting to see anna in a modern setting. tolstoy's commentaries reflect the period. if he were writing today, they would reflect the current period. get inside the man's head and i believe you would see that it can be done. why would you want to sentence any of the classic works to one period when their messages are timeless?

    • Leah

      Thank you! Couldn't agree more. She has always been a mature actress and becomes more and more seasoned in her wisdom for role playing. She played Lara in Doctor Zhivago at age 17, more than well done. She's got this.

  • Jane

    They need Colin Firth as Karenin, an often misunderstood character that begs for the kind of restrained but emotionally deep portrayal that Firth does so well.

  • Christopher Mohr

    Having read it in the original Russian, I can say that literally NONE of the English language adaptations have done the work justice. Anna, while the title role, isn't the main character. Levin is. About as close as they've come to getting the story right was the dreadfully ridiculous version with Sophie Marceau in the title role. Anna dies and the story goes on for another hundred or so pages. I just hope they stay relatively faithful. I know he wouldn't do it, but it'd be nice to see maybe Clive Owen as Levin.

  • Leah

    Keira Knightley, I love all that you do, and own every one of your movies. You are so talented, and have perfect expression for each role you play. I'd have to say, Doctor Zhivago, TV mini series is my favorite. And you were only 16 going on 17 for that movie! Amazing talent given by God.

    I believe in you and this film! Can't wait to see it! You are lovely!

  • http://facebookad Dorothy

    Anna Karenia is the greatest novel written. In the '80's, Masterpiece Theatre did a 13 part (I believe it was 13). That series is probably the closest adaption of the book. And yes, Levin is the main character of the book.

    The actress that plays Anna needs to be plump, with slavic cheekbones. We're talking 19th century Russian.

  • will

    anna karenina's husband is not kind...

    and. "the actress that plays Anna needs to be plump with slavic cheekbones"...really???

  • Krista

    Anna Karenina is one of my favorite books. I will not be seeing this movie. Knightley and Wright ruined Pride and Prejudice I won't let the ruin Anna K for me too.

  • CHUCKVAU

    THE ROLE CALLS FOR AN INGRID BERGMAN!

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