Filmmaker Joe Wright faces a situation with his upcoming Anna Karenina adaptation – similar to that which director Cary Fukunaga faced earlier this year with Jane Eyre. Wright is attempting to realize a story on the big screen that has already been adapted for either the film or television medium countless times in the past (over twenty occasions, for the Leo Tolstoy novel in particular).

However, both 19th century literature adaptations (and tragic period romances) are beasts that Wright is quite experienced at handling – as is his Anna Karenina starlet, Kiera Knightley (she previously worked with the director on his Pride and Prejudice and Atonement adaptations).

Knightley will naturally be playing the titular character, the wife of a 19th century Moscow aristocrat named Alexei Karenin (Jude Law) – a man some twenty years older than herself. Anna soon finds real love (or something like that) as she begins an extramarital affair with the more age-appropriate Count Vronsky (Kick-Ass‘ Aaron Johnson). However, as anyone even remotely familiar with 19th century European literature should know, things don’t work out so well for these crazy kids.

The Daily Mail has learned that Knightley’s Pride and Prejudice costar Matthew Macfadyen will also be appearing in Wright’s Anna Karenina, as the title character’s brother, Prince Stepan Oblonsky. Also on-board for the project are actresses Saoirse Ronan and Olivia Williams (both last worked with Wright on this spring’s action-thriller Hanna).

Rounding out the Anna Karenina cast are the talented likes of Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk Empire), Andrea Riseborough (Never Let Me Go), and Domhnall Gleeson (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows).

Knightley in 'Pride and Prejudice'

Anna Karenina is generally considered one of the greatest novels ever written – and with a length of around 864 pages, there’s bound to be loads of narrative material left on the cutting room floor, so to speak, in Wright’s adaptation. Combine that with the previously-mentioned fact that the story has literally been brought to cinematic life (including both film and TV versions) around two dozen times already, and it’s easy to see how Wright’s take on the story could potentially be very tedious for both Tolstoy purists and devoted fans of the original book alike.

All the same, one thing you can always count on getting in a film with Wright at the helm is beautiful cinematography and luscious production design – and Anna Karenina will almost certainly not be an exception. Wright also has an excellent track record as a director – with even his least liked directorial effort, The Soloist, being generally considered just sub-par, not terrible – and he’s assembled an admirable cast to further ensure that his next literary adaptation turns out well.

Anna Karenina begins principal photography this fall – on location in Russia and the United Kingdom.

Source: The Daily Mail