Joe Wright Prepping For “Anna Karenina”

With his upcoming teen assassin thriller “Hanna” almost complete, filmmaker Joe Wright (“Atonement,” “Pride and Prejudice”) is looking towards his next project which right now is looking more likely to be his previously announced adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina”.

Considered the “greatest novel ever written” in various polls over the years, the eight-part novel deals with a 19th century Russian woman trapped in a loveless marriage who becomes a social outcast when she has an affair with the aristocrat Count Vronsky.

Wright helms from a script by Tom Stoppard, and talking with About.com, the filmmaker says he hopes to fit the tale into a feature length version – “I’m hoping to do ‘Anna Karenina’ in the Autumn and I’m reading about St. Petersburg society in the 18th century… You can [make a 2 hour movie] if you’ve got Tom Stoppard writing. He’s done an amazing script which involves Levin’s story as well as Anna’s story. Yeah, Tom Stoppard is just..also, he’s so immersed in Russian history and culture and identity or lack of it” he says.

Asked about adapting such a heavy tome, Wright says “I think Tolstoy wrote it as an accessible piece. it’s a family drama. ‘War and Peace’ was his big political drama and ‘Anna Karenina,’ as he says in the first sentence, is about families. ‘Happy families are all happy in the same way. Unhappy families are all unhappy in different ways.’ So he wrote it to be read by the new emerging literate Russian population. Obviously, it goes off into analytical theoretical studies of the Russian agricultural system which I won’t involve in the script. But the actual plot of it is fairly simple and very emotional.”

Keira Knightley was previously linked to play the titular Anna and that apparently still is the case, though Wright wouldn’t confirm her name directly – “Not sure yet. it’s fairly obvious, but I can’t quite say. She hasn’t signed on the line yet. I’m loyal to my actors.”