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Bookish Adaptations: Anna Karenina

I think I am going to begin reviewing book adaptations on the main basis of how well they stuck with the books because let’s be honest: a truly satisfying adaptation for readers is a hard task to execute.

I read Anna Karenina recently, and I decided to check out the 2012 film adaptation (mostly because of Keira Knightley if I am being honest), which was directed by Joe Wright.

Things I Liked:

  • the directing was exceptional. I think the way that the whole production mirrored the way a stage production captures the dreamy way in which Tolstoy wrote this novel. Shots like Karenin sitting alone on an empty stage, in an empty theatre are surreal and hauntingly beautiful.
  • the way Russian high society was depicted. At times, actors seemed like nothing more than machine parts, or gossiping, obsessed freaks, and I think this nicely captures the way in which Tolstoy characterized and used satire.
  • the acting. Keira Knightley and Aaron-Taylor Johnson had amazing chemistry, and Jude Law made a convincing Karenin.
  • the costuming. The costumes were exquisite and so revealing about each of the characters. I am not sure how historically accurate they were but they did so much for the plot of the movie that I was absolutely taken.
  • the cinematography. The whole movie is aesthetically pleasing, and done quite beautifully. The transitions are probably some of the best that I’ve ever seen.

Things I did not like:

  • omitted scenes. Yes, I understand it’s a long novel but so much was missed and what was missed usually included Levin’s and Kitty’s storyline which is so important in the novel, but had to be treated as a side plot in order to keep the movie at a reasonable length
    • bonus annoyance: you know Tolstoy’s famous scene of Levin cutting wheat? it’s like five seconds long in the movie.
  • Levin. Levin is such a hard character to translate into physical adaptations, and this is because the man is highly introspective that the only way to communicate his inner dialog, which is a lot of the book, would be through monologues or voice overs. Neither of these were employed in the movie, and it made Levin’s character significantly less interesting. And, when Levin came to his epiphany in the movie, it would have been lost by everyone who hadn’t read the book because it was the only time it was mentioned in the movie, so a lot of his personal growth got lost.
  • love was the main focus of the movie. I don’t think love/jealousy was necessarily the breaking point of certain characters in the novel, although it was made out to be in the movie. There are so many other themes and complex motifs in the novel that either would not have translated well or that the directors and producers just did not attempt with this movie.

Have you seen the movie? What do you think?

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Summer Wrap Up

I read a grand total of 22 books this summer, which is pretty crazy for me! I am only going to be listing the books that I rated 4 stars and up, and then of those, I’ll quickly delve into my top 5 favorites and exactly why they are in my top 5.

Here are all the titles that I rated 4+ stars…

And now for my top five…

This was the first book I picked up this summer and it is Jane Austen at her best. I took a little break from Austen since I found that I did not love Emma as much as I loved Pride and Prejudice but Sense and Sensibility matched P&P for me. Now the question is whether I should read Persuasion or Northanger Abbey next…

This is a book that I should have read a long time ago because I knew from the synopsis that I would end up loving it. I mean, Death narrates the life of a German girl who harbors a Jewish man in her basement and steals books to keep her head straight while living in Nazi Germany…what more could a girl ask for?

This book is on this list for Levithan’s writing style alone. Somehow, he managed to create a third-person narrator that was a collective of men who had passed and it worked beautifully. I think that just speaks to pure talent and plus it’s a portrait of today’s LBTQ youth, specifically gay men, which is just beautiful in itself.

I didn’t give this book the full five stars but I had to include it in my top five because it was so emotionally captivating and I know it’s gonna stick with me for such a long time.

I said this in my review, but this book is the first book that I stayed up unreasonably late to finish (I should clarify, the first time that I have stayed up unreasonably late in my adult lifetime). It is amazing and can’t wait till it comes out so all of you can read it too!

 

What were your favorite summer reads?

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Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Fancasts

I’m gonna try the Top 5 Wednesday meme this week, particularly cause I was interested in this topic. This week’s topic is top five favorite fancasts, or actors that I would like to play my favorite literary characters (and yes they’re all women).

  • Anne Shirley- Mary Kate Wiles

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So if you are at familiar with The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and YouTube in general, you know Mary Kate Wiles does an excellent job as a modern Lydia. She also did a short little stint as Anne Shirley (from Anne of Green Gables) for the series Kissing in the Rain and you guys, she was perfect. She’d make a perfect Anne in a longer adaptation.

  • Jane Eyre- Elizabeth Moss

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I’m not too big of a fan of any of the Jane Eyre adaptations out there, and I feel as though Elizabeth Moss could do well as Jane. She has played several strong characters (Peggy in Mad Men, anyone?), but she has the kind of quiet strength that Jane Eyre requires.

  • Jo March- Katie Stevens

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I have been binge watching The Bold Type recently, and I swear Katie would be a perfect Jo. Her character on The Bold Type is already a fierce, A-type kind of person and I can totally picture Katie as the headstrong, intellectual force of nature that is Jo March.

  • Anna Karenina- Keira Knightley

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Okay I know this is cheating because Keira did play Anna in the movie version (which I have not yet seen). But when I was reading through Anna Karenina, the only person that I could picture was Keira Knightley. With dark, curly, hair and a face that is naturally sweet and gorgeous, Keira matches every description Tolstoy throws at you of Anna Karenina.

  • Elinor Dashwood- Shailene Woodley

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I kinda struggled with this casting. I feel like Shailene could do well as the quiet, proper Elinor but it is hard to tell whether an actor can do period acting unless they have been in a period film already. And let’s face it- most famous American actresses haven’t yet been in a Jane Austen-era film yet.

What are some of your dreamcasts?

 

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Is There a Wrong Way to Read?

So the other day my friend was gracious enough to lend me Eleanor and Park and as she was leaving, she told me that her policy on her books she lent out was nonexistent. As in, I could dog ear it, I could do whatever to it, etc.

Years ago, I had borrowed a friend’s copy of Wicked by Gregory Maguire and ended up pretty much destroying the front cover because I had been dragging it around with me to Washington D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia. She was less than thrilled (I was in middle school okay) but she was not pissed. I managed to tape up the tear and color it back in with a sharpie so that the tear wasn’t too noticeable except to the two of us.

Now I normally do not dog-ear pages in a book, especially if they are not my own. I also typically do not write in books unless I am studying them for school and it’s just easier to annotate that way rather than stick in a million post-it notes. I like to keep my books as pristine as possible, but there are times that they get eaten up by the horror that is my backpack.

For my AP Language and Composition class in high school, we had to read an essay titled Never Do That to a Book by Anne Dilliard. Dillard describes two kinds of reading: “carnal” reading and the kind of reading that I do. It is a humorous essay, and if you can get your hands on it, I would definitely recommend reading it. Carnal readers are those who dog-ear the pages, who write all over the pages, and who expose their books to the elements. Those other kinds of readers are those who refuse to let dust get on their books, and make sure that book covers remain uncracked and brand-new.

Basically, what I got from this essay is that there is no one way to love a book and to take care of them. Even though some readers may seem like they disregard the care of their books, it is really how they express their love for reading.

So I want to know…how do you read? Do you think you could read any other way and enjoy it in the same way?

 

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