Latent Love or Lust? Liberating Female Sexuality in Joe Wright’s 2012 filmic adaptation of Anna Karenina
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“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” opens Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Although this novel focuses on the dysfunction, consequences, and repercussions of family, I will turn my focus onto how women are represented in this novel, and more importantly in the 2012 Joe Wright film adaptation of Anna Karenina. I’ll be examining mis-en-scene, which is “what the viewers notice most of all film techniques” (Bordwell & Thompson, 112), and this category often encompasses setting, costuming, makeup, staging, and for my purposes, score. Within my interpretation of the film, the mis-en-scene switches the spotlight from families, onto the female characters. Within this classic novel, Anna Karenina, the married “belle of St. Petersburg society” (film), has a passionate affair with a young Cavalry officer, Count Vronsky. The two other main female protagonists are: Kitty, a young girl just beginning her coming out into society at a grand ball, and Dolly, her sister, who is married with ten children to Anna’s brother, Oblonsky. Levin, Oblonsky’s friend, falls in love with Kitty and proposes, keeping in mind that he must compete with Count Vronsky for Kitty’s affections. Meanwhile, Levin and Kitty, follow the traditional love story, and Oblonsky and Dolly struggle through issues created by his affair.