I want to tell you about two films coming to the theatres that are at least related to the Victorians. While not based on “Victorian” novels, they are based on novels written in the Victorian Era:
Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables (1862) and Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina (1877).
Both of these films look visually stunning and each is attempting to experiment with the filmmaking form in order to bring something original to the film experience.
Les Misérables is based on the musical and not the novel so it is an adaptation of an adaptation. Though director Tom Hooper (King’s Speech) says that he read the novel in preparation and was moved by Hugo’s writing. What really interests me in this film adaptation is that the actors are singing live on set. They did not record a soundtrack previously and then lip-synch on set. As a result, the singing clips released so far are astounding for their emotinal resonance rather than for the actors’ vocal ranges.
Anna Karenina is directed by the man who remade Pride and Prejudice and adapted Atonement. I know there were mixed reactions to these adaptations but I enjoyed them both. This time the film takes a postmodern approach by having the action take place on a stage. The cinematography and effects give it a sense of fantasy, making the drama of Tolstoy’s work operatic. The film looks like it could be fantastic.
Hopefully I will be able to see them both in the theatre. If not, they will both be joining my collection of books on DVD.