Joe Wright for ‘Anna Karenina’

Eye on the Oscars: The Director

When Wright reunited with his “Atonement” star Keira Knightley to remake Tolstoy’s classic tale of love and betrayal, he initially pursued “a fairly conventional approach, especially in terms of the visuals,” he says. Using playwright Tom Stoppard’s dense 130-page screenplay as his bible, he began scouting locations in Russia — “Tolstoy’s house, St. Petersburg, all the stations of the cross, but it just didn’t excite me, and then I slowly realized I didn’t want to do yet another period piece,” the director says.

So, weeks before the shoot was due to start, the director made a radical decision — “to instead film it as if it’s all taking place inside a huge theater for the most part.” The last-minute revamp made perfect sense to Wright, who notes that the Russian aristocracy of the period “behaved as if they were all on stage anyway.”

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