Russians to Anna Karenina: Drop Dead!

It’s come to this:  Americans are more accepting of Anna Karenina than Russians!  So much for the arrogant, insane Russian propaganda that its people are more appreciative of culture and literature than Americans!  The Moscow Times reports:

One of the country’s most famous directors has filmed a Leo Tolstoy classic, but more than a year after the premiere of Sergei Solovyov’s much-praised “Anna Karenina,” the movie has not gone on release in Russia.

Solovyov had long wanted to film “Anna Karenina,” a subject that has fascinated film directors for almost a century. He had to overcome financial problems and more than a decade of trials to complete the film. Tatyana Drubich has the title role, with legendary actor Oleg Yankovsky in his last film playing the cuckolded husband and Yaroslav Boiko as Count Vronsky, Karenina’s lover.

“Everywhere in Russia and in the West where I showed ‘Anna Karenina,’ the feedback was great!” Solovyov said in a telephone interview. “Every time I show it, people sit on stairs, lie on the stage … Tribeca, one of the biggest New York cinemas, was chock-full, and this was on Friday night!”

But even though there are deals in the offing for the film to be shown all over the West, local distributors have been reluctant to take on a film that, they say, will not appeal to the young Russians who make up the majority of the cinema-going audience.

“They all think ‘Karenina’s’ audience is rather narrow and specific and the typical sort of moviegoers up to age 25 … are not interested in such a movie,” said the film’s producer, Oleg Urushev. Distributors told him that “Karenina is not a rating-boosting character. That’s the problem,” he said.

“They say Tolstoy is not a rating-boosting character, and this is very stupid,” Solovyov said.

Distributor Nashe Kino refused to comment on the film when contacted.

“It’s hard for Russian distributors to deal with ‘Anna Karenina’ because nobody here knows who Anna Karenina was,” Solovyov said in an interview last year.

Critics and moviegoers in the West certainly know who she was: When the film was shown in New York in November, The Epoch Times wrote: “Most prior adaptations of ‘Karenina’ have been formal costume dramas, very conscious of their status as prestige pictures. While the sets and costumes are appropriately elegant, Solovyov’s approach is much more impressionistic, employing saturated colors and deliberately cinematic lighting effects.”

The film Solovyov made after “Karenina,” “Odnoklassniki,” or “Classmates,” a more modern tale of the loves and lives of three young people, has already gone on release.

And ironically, a film about the author of “Anna Karenina” filmed by an American director with British and American actors in the main roles is more likely to get distribution.

Michael Hoffman’s “The Last Station,” starring Christopher Plummer as Tolstoy and Helen Mirren as his wife, is rumored for release this fall in time for the 100th anniversary of Tolstoy’s death. The movie, which deals with the last days of the author’s life, has been highly praised in the West, and both Plummer and Mirren were nominated for Academy Awards.

“Michael Hoffman made a movie about a Russian genius for the whole world,” said Andrei Konchalovsky, one of “The Last Station’s” producers. “Of course, people may claim it would be better in Russian, and there are some inaccuracies. But whatever they say, the world is going to learn more about a man with a beard who was a great writer.”

Meanwhile, Solovyov is continuing to lobby for the release of his film.

“I understand that these kinds of movies can’t be distributed on their own, it requires a lot of directors’ input and energy,” he said, adding that previously he was preoccupied with making “Odnoklassniki.” “Now that it has been released, I can take care of ‘Anna Karenina’s’ distribution.”

11 responses to “Russians to Anna Karenina: Drop Dead!

  1. Steamed McQueen

    Young Russians aren’t interested in the film adaptation of AK? I’m not surprised. Many of them probably read the book at one point and realized what an overblown pile of bilge it truly was.

    AK would have been a much better book if it had been half the length. In the middle of it when Anna becomes very ill and almost dies, I was cheering!. But no, Tolstoy has to have her recover and drag the story on for another 200 -plus pages.

    Anna was a despicable woman. As she stood on the platform in St. Petersburg at the end, I was ready to throw her under that damn train myself.

    IMO Tolstoy is vastly over-rated in Russian literature.

    • I disagree. I think Tolstoy was one of the greatest writers and thinkers who ever lived, in any language, and in the field of novel he has no equals, except possibly Balzac and Dickens.

      And of course young people anywhere, not just in Russia, are not interested. They are interested in easy reading, entertainment, action, comedy and sex. Tolstoy provides none of these things

      • Are you demented? Did you READ this article, moron? The whole point is that Americans are MORE interested than Russians. Please try to get a freakin’ clue. You are repeating neo-Soviet propaganda like a parrott.

          • “Are you demented?” – Mr. Duffer, not make a “bad faith” edit, of course, RV was responding to mr. McCain:)

            “Anna was a despicable woman. As she stood on the platform in St. Petersburg at the end, I was ready to throw her under that damn train myself.” – I bet you was. Stoning wouldn’t be enough for her… Thanks for sharing your valuable insights with us, sad Tolstoy didn’t live long enough to hear them.

        • What did I say that got you so hot under the collar?

          I have READ the article and I respectfully submit I am neither demented nor a moron. And I got a freaking clue from the article and it indeed states that Americans are more interested in Tolstoy than Russians do. I have no argument with that.

          I merely responded to Mr. McQueen’s point that young Russians are not interested in Tolstoy by saying that young people anywhere are not interested.

          I love Tolstoy and there is no neo-Soviet propaganda in that. He unquestionably was a genius who belongs to ages and to the entire mankind not just Russia. That’s why Americans (but not necessarily YOUNG Americans) go watch the movie

  2. the great propaganda of the Hollywood has been efficient on Russian youngster. They cant adabt real culture anymore.

  3. As a fan of classical novels, I am really excited to hear that we, Americans, are much more accepting of this new Anna Karenina film and that, unlike Russians, Americans can see this film in their theaters.

    But i called all cinemas in the San Francisco area, and all of them told me that they have never heard of it. Finally, I reached a local movie critic, and he told me that Anna Karenina was shown at only one event ever in the entire United States: at the Russian Film Week on Nov 13 – 22, 2009 in New York. Is he mistaken?

    I hope he is not right, and there is a way for me to see this film in the United States.

    I wonder if anybody can help me.

    Thank you.

  4. I have no idea of the economics involved in producing this on a DVD but its being witheld prevents viewers in the USA from appreciating the Russian interpretation of its famous authors and stories such as those by Chehkov, Pasternak, Ostrovsky.etc., and the work of it many talented directors.

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