Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tolstoy on a String

Some intriguing details have recently emerged about the latest cinema outing for one of the most enduring tragic heroines of classic Russian literature, Anna Karenina. Directed by period drama aficionado Joe Wright based on Tom Stoppard's adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's novel, the film will feature Wright's frequent leading lady Keira Knightley, pictured above in the title role of the married socialite who embarks on a dangerous affair with a dashing young aristocrat in 1870s Moscow. Wright has claimed that his approach to Anna Karenina and his decision to embrace the theatricality of the piece has been heavily influenced by his upbringing surrounded by strings, sets and marionettes in the world-famous Little Angel Puppet Theatre, which is being run to this very day by his mother Lyndie in Islington, North London. It remains to be seen how this "influence" will eventually manifest itself when the film hits our screens in September.

Keira Knightley's previous performances for Wright as Pride and Prejudice's Elizabeth Bennett and Atonement's Cecilia Tallis have been the most acclaimed of her career thus far and Anna Karenina will mark her return to leading roles following stints treading the boards in London's West End and a spate of supporting roles in low-key movies. She will be joined by Jude Law playing against type as her cuckolded husband Alexei Karenin and young Aaron Johnson of Kick Ass and Nowhere Boy fame as her lover Count Vronsky. Bringing to life a whole host of countesses, princesses, army officers, civil servants and impoverished dreamers is an impressive supporting cast including Kelly Macdonald, Matthew Macfadyen, Olivia Williams, Emily Watson, Ruth Wilson, Alexandra Roach, Holliday Grainger, Eros Vlahos, Michelle Dockery, Domhnall Gleeson and Thomas Howes. Meanwhile, Howes's Downton Abbey alter ego, the late footman William, is soon to be joined in the great sprawling country estate in the sky. It was announced last week that season three of Downton will feature the death of a prominent character. With the war of independence all kicking off in Ireland, my money's on Branson.

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