Art & Design Magazine

Prisoners of Time and Role, Victims of Love: Anna Karenina & Caroline Matilda

By Mariagrazia @SMaryG
PRISONERS OF TIME AND ROLE, VICTIMS OF LOVE: ANNA KARENINA & CAROLINE MATILDAPRISONERS OF TIME AND ROLE, VICTIMS OF LOVE: ANNA KARENINA & CAROLINE MATILDA
I've been watching (or re-watching) several different movies lately, some very good ones too.
After depressing hard-working days, wrecked and exhausted, I've found some solace in very beautiful stories ( or in shallow romances if not in silly comedies) .
I've chosen a couple of good ones to share with you and write about: A Royal Affair and Anna Karenina.  They are both costume movies and stories of women prisoners of a male-oriented world.  For similar  reasons the two heroines suffer exclusion, condemnation and solitude before their lives end tragically.  I was touched, moved and emotional most of the time while watching them, but grateful for the great emotions they gave me. I could deeply relate with the protagonists and forget myself.
PRISONERS OF TIME AND ROLE, VICTIMS OF LOVE: ANNA KARENINA & CAROLINE MATILDA A Royal Affair  (2012) is the account of the true facts which took place in the 18th century at the court of King Christian VII of Denmark,  narrated from a female perspective.  We have a retrospective view on the facts - strongly saddened by the anticipation of an upcoming tragic epilogue -  which are told directly by the disgraced heroine, Caroline Matilda of Great Britain, who writes letters to her distant children she knows she will never see again. She married the mentally ill young monarch of Denmark and betrayed him with his enlighted chancellor, friend and personal surgeon, Johann Friedrich Struensee. She is now exiled from the court and banished from any meeting with husband, daughter and son. When she arrived in Denmark, she was ready to be a good wife for her future husband and a good queen for the realm, but had soon discovered the impossibility of making  that dream come true. She had been doomed to solitude and unhappiness, prisoner of her position, and victim of rules, conventions and even censorship,  which prohibited her even to read the books she had brought with her from England.
PRISONERS OF TIME AND ROLE, VICTIMS OF LOVE: ANNA KARENINA & CAROLINE MATILDA I can't explain how beautiful this film is. I saw it in Danish with Italian subtitles and I couldn't imagine I would get so emotional. It is a great movie, intense, thought - provoking and beautifully shot. Of course,  I was blown away by  the passion of the forbidden love affair between the queen and the doctor,  nonetheless I was constantly feeling for the young insane king Christian too.
The cast was all great but the performance of Mikkel Boe Følsgaard as king Christian was simply outstanding. Mads Mikkelsen as Doctor Struensee and Alicia Vikander as Caroline Matilda were awesome as the enlighted passionate leaders of an extraordinary season of reforms in Denmark and so touching as the tragic protagonists of the unforgettable love story. Have a look at  a clip and a trailer of the movie to have a visual hint of what I've tried to explain with words.


A Royal Affair imdb
A Royal Affair DVD

PRISONERS OF TIME AND ROLE, VICTIMS OF LOVE: ANNA KARENINA & CAROLINE MATILDA

Keira Knightley as Anna Karenina

In Anna Karenina (2012) Keira Knightley and Joe Wright are together in a film for the third time  as leading actress and director. It was something I couldn't miss. Especially because I loved both their Pride and Prejudice (2005) and Atonement (2007). Moreover, could I miss the chance to see Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet together again? (though only as siblings this time). No, I didn't want to miss Matthew MacFadyen and Keira Knightley together again.
Unfortunately, my enthusiasm faded away quite soon. The first time I  tried to watch this film I had to give up after quarter of an hour. I was rather disturbed by the choice of director Joe Wright to represent Tolstoj's Anna Karenina's with a theatrical allegory. My first impressions were something like: "This  creates a distance between the watcher and the character's predicaments and feelings" or  "It sounds like a parody more than a tribute to a great novel!"
I've recently given  it a second chance and I'm glad I did. Not that my idea on the direction has changed that much, but I am less disappointed after watching the whole thing. Once you get used to the staging device, you get beyond it and you start  relating to the characters once again.

PRISONERS OF TIME AND ROLE, VICTIMS OF LOVE: ANNA KARENINA & CAROLINE MATILDA

 Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Count Vronsky

A woman torn between her duty as wife/mother/aristocratic socialite   and her wish for passionate love, Anna is married to a government official, Alexei Karenin, and must fulfill her public duties in a very formal world. Anyway, after meeting Alexei Vronsky, Anna falls for the young handsome officer, and after a first attempt to resist his advances she will start her rebellious pursuit for love at any price. Passionate love will turn her into a brave woman,  who is confident she can win over social prejudices and ostracism, is convinced that she can bear  shame and  reproach, who even thinks she can survive being separated from her beloved son. She can't accept hypocrisy: "Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be"

PRISONERS OF TIME AND ROLE, VICTIMS OF LOVE: ANNA KARENINA & CAROLINE MATILDA

Anna and Vronsky in Italy

Her passionate spirit and her determination don't allow her to accept any compromise.  She is ready to be unhappy in the name of love ("You killed my happiness, you murderer, murderer")  but is eventually disillusioned and broken, betrayed by that love, which  she had so ardently pursued and longed for.
Konstantin Levin, the co-protagonist of Tolstoj's novel is quite in the peripherals in the movie though his story  runs parallel to Anna's with quite the opposite result : Konstantin's loyalty and endurance will be rewarded  with Kitty's love and marriage.  While Anna destroys her family, Levin forms a new strong one. He is dutiful and socially awkward, he prefers his solitude to a worldly life. His heroism lies in his simplicity and modesty. He shares a humble life with his peasants from whom he learns to love the small things.

Useless to say that my favorite story-line is Anna's stubborn pursuit of love, final failure of her dream included,  more than  Konstantin's successful marriage and final conversion.
My love for this novel  overcame my initial hesitation and even dislike for many cinematographic choices. I expected turbulence,  tragedy and emotional bite, but these are exactly the elements I recognized as lacking. The scenes and the costumes were gorgeous but the coreographic ensemble effect, the stylished bizarre direction, the theater set deprived the relationships of their congenial pathos.
Anna Karenina at imdb
Buy the DVD

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