Anna Karenina Made Me View Maria Bertram-Rushworth and Mary Crawford Differently

So my second year in college I took a history class, History 202-16th Century to Modern times, with a Professor O’Malley. Professor O’Malley loved Russian history, and that was his forté, so we spent a lot of class discussing Russia, reading Russian novels, and watched a Russian film.

Hmm…

One thing Professor O’Malley would say is that (and I’m paraphrasing)

“Russian stories are not like Jane Austen. They all end sadly. Austen would have figured out a way to make it be happily-ever-after.”

Now whether or not you or I agree with that statement (feel free to comment below what you think about it)-two things have always stuck with mew. 1) Professor O’Malley either read or watched an Austen book or movie (or read about her work) and 2) every time I read or watch a Russian novel or film-I always think is this like Jane Austen or the opposite of her?

Hmmm…

I have never read the book Anna Karenina, but it is on my to-read list. I haven’t gotten to it yet because it is a gigantic book and I know that with the Russian literature the characters use multiple names, so confusing, so I’ve just stalled from it.

I have always wanted to see the film though-the 1948 Vivian Leigh one. I cannot stand Keira Knightley and will avoid her films as much as possible because I think she is a horrible actor.

As an actress not a person.

So even though Mr. O’Malley didn’t think that Russian literature had anything to do with Jane Austen-when I was watching Anna Karenina (1948) all I could think of was Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park.

Hmmm

Anna Karenina was published as a serial from 1873-77 by Leo Tolstoy-it is divided into eight parts and has over a dozen major characters. In my opinion, what it boils down to is the story lines of two characters-Anna Karenina and Konstantin “Kostya” Dmitrievich Lëvin/Lyovin. The movie doesn’t really showcase the second character, so I’m going to focus on the former, as the movie does.

Countess Anna Arkadyevna Karenina is one of the most beautiful women in Russia. The book and film, starts with her heading to St. Petersburg to visit with her brother, Prince Stepan Arkadyevich Oblonsky, who’s affair with his children’s governess has been discovered. When traveling she visits with Countess Vronskaya and talk about their sons-showing pictures. Countess tells Anna how his son is supposedly engaged, but she doesn’t believe the womanizing man is ready to settle down-she sees it in “his eyes”.

He’s a bad boy-womanizer

When the train stops, Anna meets Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky. She is nice and goes off with her brother-but the Count is struck by her and that’s it. He is set on going after her.

I want her!

Anna helps with her brother’s marital problems, ironing everything out, and encourages her sister-in-law, Princess Ekaterina “Kitty” Alexandrovna Shcherbatskay, fiancé to Count Vronsky. They go to a ball and the Count completely ignores Kitty telling her “I didn’t see you” when she is right next to him.

Way harsh,

He pays attention all night to Anna. Anna enjoys it because her husband is too busy for her, too busy caring for Russia as he is an important politician. But after the ball, she heads home as she knows Vronsky’s attentions are wrong (and too tempting) and she’s sad she hurt Kitty.

Vronsky follows Anna on the train and from then on pursues her nonstop. We see that Anna has had a good life. She married a wealthy and powerful man for security-but he doesn’t give her any attention. All she wants is for his focus, for him to take her to the opera-but he’s made other plans with state officials.

She goes on her own-where her “shadow” as everyone calls it-Count Vrosky, is there. She succumbs to him.

Anna Karenina: If you have any thought for me you will give me back my peace!

Count Vronsky: There can be no peace for us, only misery, and the greatest happiness.

Dude, she asked you to leave her alone, SO LEAVE HER ALONE!

Ugh, this guy!

They begin an affair, which no one cares about her stepping out (as all do it in society) except that Anna doesn’t hide it. In fact, she and Vronsky want to run off and get married, but her husband, Count Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin, won’t divorce her.

This space between them has been in the beginning of the movie and continues.

Anna grows extremely ill and almost dies (in the book it is from a rough pregnancy, in the film they make it more nerves related). Count Alexei forgives her, and wants to stay with her-realizing that she is a real person and he loves her.

But it is too late for Anna, who leaves him and she and Vronsky end up in Italy. They grow uhappy as Anna is separate from her son, never able to see him again, and can not go out in society.

When they return to Russia-Vronsky can go out to parties, the opera, even has a princess wanting to marry him-but Anna is stuck at home. She is the one that made all the sacrifices to be together and is trapped in the cell she created as she is a marked woman, the scarlet letter A is metaphorically burned into her forehead.

She grows more agitated and crazed and upset-trapped in the house and the bad decision she made. In the end she kills herself by jumping in front of a train.

Nooooooooooooooo

Yes, it is very sad.

I’m going to hide under the covers with my ice cream

So how does it make me think of Mansfield’s Park‘s Maria and Mary?

Hmmm

Well in Mansfield Park, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry visit the Bertram home. Mary originally decides to go after the eldest brother, but falls for the second son, Edmund. Her brother isn’t set on anyone, but flirts with Mary and Julia Bertram, even though Maria is engaged.

Devilish grin must stay grinning…

Later, Henry goes after Mary’s cousin Fanny Price, but she turns him down. He runs into the married Maria and the two run off together, but do not marry. For Henry he is disheartened to lose Fanny, but it hasn’t really hurt him. Yeah people will talk, but it will blow over in time. He’ll have lots of women after him to marry.

It’s no big deal

But the women, are not so lucky.

Both Maria and Mary are very damaged from the dalliance. Maria ends up divorced and living with her single aunt, kicked out of society, estranged from the rest of her family, never to be married again or have any children. Her life is pretty much over. Mary loses the man she is in love with and it isn’t certain she will recover from this. Unfortunately, Mary’s reputation is tied to her brother and severely damaged.

So unlike Anna, I really do not like Maria at all. She is mean, rude, cruel, a total jerk-so when she everything goes down, I have to admit, I feel very much like “Just desserts” was served.

Sucks to be you

However, after watching this I started thinking of her different-I still don’t like her, but I viewed her differently.

Hmm…

So Anna married an older, wealthy, powerful man. It may have been for wealth, security, power, a family alliance-we don’t quite know. We do know that it isn’t for love as she says she’s never been in love until Vronsky. Now Count Alexei isn’t a bad man, just too focused on himself and Russia. He reminds me of Torvald Helmer in a Doll’s House, and how he never viewed his wife as a person but an object, his doll. Count Alexe doesn’t think he needs to give Anna any attention, as she is already a part of his collection. He never thinks of her as a real woman with needs, emotions, desires, until she almost does and realizes that he could lose her.

Anna could have lived a good life with him, maybe not an extremely happy life, or romantic one, but a good one. The Count is a bit narcissistic, but it could have worked out. The same is true with Maria. Now we know that Maria choose Mr. Rushworth him for his wealth and power, there was no love on her side, just £12,000 a year (making him the wealthiest character in any Jane Austen novel).

And the same would have been for her. Maria wouldn’t have had a perfect, or romantic, or completely happy life-but she would have had a good one. She had her home, friends, society, and eventually children. Both women would have had good marriages if they continued.

Unfortunately, each has a man come waltzing in who doesn’t care and won’t leave them alone. Now Anna does the right thing and tries to leave. She doesn’t want to go down that path. Maria on the other had, she enjoys it and encourages it (that’s another reason I don’t like her).

But the thing that really bothered me was the men. I mean we don’t see it in Mansfield Park as much because the story is not focused on Maria as Fanny is away from her. But in Anna Karenina we see how awfully she is treated. She’s ruined in society, she can’t go anywhere, she becomes trapped in the house-and the Count he no longer loves her.

WHAT!!!!

Yes, the Count wanted her when she was beautiful, the belle of the ball, the one everyone desired.

But after, when more problems arose than were solved, when his happiness was not achieved by a person, he begins to resent her. He hates being trapped in the house and as he is a man, the scandal just rolls off his back and he can move forward and date a princess! He doesn’t get why she is so upset about how she is being treated, he doesn’t understand her loss of her child, her fear of losing him and being alone, etc. And he’s basically like “girl why you mad, you shouldn’t be upset.”

Ugh!

The same is with Henry Crawford, like Maria we don’t see everything that happens to him, but we know all he has to do is go into the country for a bit, and then he can be back and out in society. He’s not going to be seared with the “red letter”, be estranged from his family (his uncle probably loved it), never get married (unless it is by choice), never have children (unless by choice), etc.

Me with Henry Crawford and Vronsky.

So while watching Anna Karenina didn’t make me like Maria and Mary better, but it did make me feel sorry for them that they receive the brunt of the outfall of the affair while the men get to take off and live their lives.

It also makes so angry that these men pursued these women when they were off limits.

True Henry was only doing it for fun-but still. These men did that knowing that nothing could happen to them, and doing their best seduction to trap them.

You jerks!

Ugh, after watching this I hate Vronksky and Henry even more than before.

I kind of debated adding this to Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans, but I wasn’t sure. It is such a sad movie-and so sad what happens to her-I don’t know if I would recommend it. I might put it on the Mansfield Park page though.

Hmm…

And in conclusion, Professor O’Malley you are wrong. Jane Austen and Russian stories are similar-and Jane Austen doesn’t end happily-ever-after for everyone.

For more Mansfield Park, go to Austen Avengers Assemble!

For more Maria Bertram, go to Waiter, There’s Some Disney in My Jane Austen

For more Mary Crawford, go to The Heartbreak Kid

For more Henry Crawford, go to Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MATURE

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I’ll Always Be There When You Need Me: Anastasia (1997)

Romantic Moment #9

anastasia

Anastasia (1997)

So this film is based on two things, the person Anastasia and the 1956 film of the same name. Anastasia was the youngest daughter of Czar Nicholas II Romanov. With the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, the Czars were kicked out of power and later killed. The only body to not be found was Anastasia, which lead to a rumor that she wasn’t dead, but was still out there and would return one day. There was actually a woman who claimed she was the real Anastasia, going by the name Anna, but even though she knew countless details that only a Romanov would have known; it was later determined that she wasn’t Anastasia. The 1956 film, while starring the wonderful Ingrid Bergman and the very handsome Yul Brynner; was not very good. Yul Brynner was too mean and Bergman was too hysterical, etc. It just sucked. So about twenty years later Fox remade a animated version that had more likable characters, a more adventurous plot, and a collection of wonderful songs. I love the songs in this movie; Rumor in St. Petersburg, Journey to the Past, Paris Holds the Key (To Your Heart)and (my fav) At the Beginning.

That said, there is one other little thing I want to clear up. Anastasia is not a disney movie. I REPEAT! ANASTASIA IS NOT A DISNEY MOVIE! DISNEY DID NOT MAKE THIS MOVIE!!! It was 20th Century Fox! FOX MADE IT! FOX! FOX! FOX! FOX! It just urks me how people call it a Disney movie because it IS NOT A DISNEY MOVIE!

Anya

So the film begins in 1916 Russia, where the Czar is giving a party. His mother, the Dowager Empress (Angela Lansbury) is visiting from France. She and his youngest daughter, have a close connection and the Dowager gives her a secret music box and a locket that is a key, that have the saying “Together in Paris”. The ball is interrupted by their “holy man” Rasputin (he was a real creepo) played by Christopher Lloyd. Rasputin is mad at the Romanovs for trying to banish him, and has sold his soul to brung destruction on all of them. The Dowager and Anastasia are saved by a kitchen boy, who sneaks them out through a secret passage. They run for a train, but Anastasia trips and is left behind.

Fast forward ten years, the Dowager Empress has put out notice of a heavy reward to anyone who can bring her, her granddaughter. Dimitri (John Cusack), the kitchen boy, is all grown up and has been having tryouts to find someone to play Anastasia so he can get the money and be gone from Russia forever. He and his partner, Vladimir, an ex member of the Royal Court, both have the knowhow to get it done. Dimitri also has the music box.

Meanwhile, Anya (Anastasia), played by Meg Ryan, has been living with amnesia in an orphanage. Now being of age, she is being sent out to work. Instead of following the directions given to her, she decides to follow a stray dog she found and head to St. Petersburg and ultimately, Paris.

The two meet up in the old Romanov palace as Dimitri and Vladmir have gone there to lick their wounds, no applicants worked out, and Anya wants to get papers from Dimitri to get out of Russia. They notice her similarities to Tsarina Alexandra and offers it as a potential way to find her family, not telling her about the money (you know that old cliché). They board the train and are on there way

Meanwhile, Rasputin is rotting in Purgatory, as he can’t go off to hell until all the Romonavs are dead, and can’t go topside because he lost his glass vial of evil I guess (I’m not sure what its real name is), is lost. Bartok, his pet bat has found the vial and goes down telling him about Anastasia’s “rebirth”. Rasputin goes up to kill her.

Back on the train, Anya and Dimitri feel a little something for each other but are mean to each other not wanting to admit it. They have to move to the baggage cart as things have changed under Stalin. While there, Rasputin attacks and they have to switch to a boat. Rasputin attacks them, and Dimitri saves her. They eventually reach Paris, and Anya passes all the tests, solidifying it when she answers that she was saved by a kitchen boy. Dimitri hears this and knows that she is the real deal. The only issue is, the Dowager has decreed to see no one again. They decide to surprise her at the opera, Dimitri deciding to let her go and to do everything he could to help her connect to her family. Dimitri’s scheme has reached the Dowager’s ears and she really lays into him, with Anya overhearing. Anya is pissed that Dimitri lied to her and runs off to her hotel room. Dimtri then drives the Dowager over there and the two talk and are united. They have a ball to welcome her back, with Vladmir being reinsteated and honored with medals. The Dowager offers Dimitri the money, but he refuses (sound like someone you know?) and takes off. That night, Rasputin attacks Anya, Dimitri returns, and they defeat Rasputin. The two elope and run off, Anya telling her grandmother that she will see her again soon.

Most Romantic Moment:

Just like 10 Things I Hate About You it was hard to choose the “most romantic moment” as it was chock full, but I can only pick one.

So Dmitri has left. He could have told Anya what he did for her when she was a kid. He could tell her that  he was the one who saved her as a child. He could have told her that he figured out she was Anastasia and tried to help her at the Opera to get in to see the Dowager. He could have told her that he made sure that the two had a chance to talk because he wanted to reunite her with her family.  He could have told her he didn’t take the money. Instead, he wanted to make her dreams come true. She made him want to reform his conman ways.

better man

But Dmitri has no illusions. Even if he changed his ways, he knows nothing will happen between them.

Dimitri

So he leaves. He leaves because he knows that she needs more than he can give, she needs someone better. (Sound like someone else we know?)

you deserve better

Meanwhile, back at the ball Anastasia is being attacked by Rasputin. He has her down, and just when you think its over, Dimitri comes running in to save the day.

OMG

Yes! HE CAME BACK TO BE WITH HER! Even though it doesn’t make any sense. Even though coming back might not change anything, he DOES IT ANYWAY! Even though there is no guarantee that they will get together. Even though he knows she still might be angry with him and kick him to the curb. It doesn’t matter. He loves her so much he has to tell her how he feels. That’s so romantic!

So romantic!

So romantic!

And in the case of true love,  coming back always works out.

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He’s always been there for her.

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