What is the difference between Anna Karenina in the novel and in the 2012 movie?    

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The novel Anna Karenina is a realistic work. It is presented as if we are watching the real action unfold in real life through a vantage point on the wall that allows us to see and hear what is going on exactly as it happens. Everything that happens is presented...

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The novel Anna Karenina is a realistic work. It is presented as if we are watching the real action unfold in real life through a vantage point on the wall that allows us to see and hear what is going on exactly as it happens. Everything that happens is presented as real. Events stick as closely as possible to how things are in real life.

In the 2012 movie version, in contrast, the story is filmed as if everything is taking place in a theater. The actors walk around props, talk in front of painted backdrops, and wander the places behind the stage, such as catwalks.

The main action in the movie takes place on the stage. The affairs and events that are hidden and forbidden take place offstage, behind the scenes. All of this is meant to show how artificial the upper echelon world of Anna and Vronksy is, with people playing highly scripted roles. It is not exactly a filmed play, but a strong sense of theatricality not present in the original novel is imbued throughout the movie. We are left removed from real life.

Levin's part of the novel, with his search for truth and purity on the land, is largely condensed in the movie. Anna and Vronsky's love affair takes center stage. This was perhaps necessary to keep the movie to a reasonable length.

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