We’re only a few weeks away before the kiddies head back to school, the fanboys back to college, and we are treated to some adult entertainment when the candidates for this year’s award season line up at the starting gate. We were already intrigued by what Baz Luhrmann has done to The Great Gatsby, a trailer that plays much better in theaters than it does online, but we figured that Joe Wright was just going to do his Sweeping Epic Thing with Anna Karenina. Little did we know that he is fixin’ to do Luhrmann one better with an audacious bit of filmed theater that, while it might not quite be turning classic literature into pop burlesque, still takes enormous risks with the material.
That the script was penned by Academy Award-winning British playwright Tom Stoppard should have been a clue right from the beginning, when we ran a trailer for Anna Karenina a few weeks ago. We keep forgetting that he can be a willfully strange, sometimes “difficult” writer—his Shakespeare in Love was so relatively anodyne for him that from then on we assumed any time he’s making a movie he’s simply doing it to support his first true love, the theater, and playing it safe.
Not so from this six-minute clip released a few days ago on KeiraWeb.co.uk, which we assume to be Keira Knightley‘s channel on YouTube. She plays the title character, future star Aaron Taylor-Johnson her young love interest Vronsky. Entirely shot on a single sound stage with over a hundred sets, it appears that Stoppard has created an adaptation that lies somewhere between Shakespeare and his very early work, like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. In other words, it’s stagey and cerebral, probably not a little controversial, but the gimmick might wear thin by middle of the second act.
We’re eager to see.
Thanks to cinematographer Seamus “Doctor” McGarvey, who shot the film, for this tip: