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Playwright David Hare and Peaky Blinders Creator Steven Knight Pay Tribute to Helen

“She Lit Up the Screen”

by David Hare and Steven Knight | Radio Times | April 27, 2021

David Hare Section:

One Saturday night in 1995 I sat down to watch a Screen Two film on BBC2. Streetlife, written and directed by Karl Francis, was about a single mother in a caravan in Wales, struggling to provide for her young child.

Although the material was bleak – Jo kills her child because she despairs of her future – it was played with the most extraordinary humour and vitality by a young actor I’d never seen before. She wore a tiny mini skirt, sparked with brave life, and gave one of the most moving performances I’d ever seen on TV.

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Categories Anna Karenina Print Media

All About Anna

Helen McCrory asks why the 19th century character still appeals to 21st century women

by Helen McCrory | The Guardian | May 8, 2000

How should a woman live her life? Survive to the age of 70, fearfully, being as everyone else instructs her to be? Or play the heroine, passionately, in the knowledge that trying and failing need not equal defeat?

This is the timeless conundrum Tolstoy’s vivid heroine, Anna Karenina, took on, long before it became fashionable to discuss the conflict of desire and expectation in women’s lives. She was an original of her era, but what are the resonances of Anna’s story for the modern woman?

Born into the wealthy, decadent upper class of 19th-century St Petersburg, Anna confronts the hypocrisy of the day when she breaks free of an empty marriage after falling in love with army officer Vronsky. She scandalises her contemporaries when she chooses to live with him as his mistress, after her husband refuses her a divorce. But her passion for her lover is tempered by the pain of leaving her son and the disapproval heaped on her by the Russian aristocracy. Spiralling into depression and opium addiction, she starts to doubt Vronsky. A bout of morbid jealousy tips her over the edge and she throws herself under a train.

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Categories Anna Karenina Reviews

Anna Karenina Review: The Love Train

What on earth would Tolstoy have thought? Channel 4 have upped the raunch factor in Anna Karenina, his heavyweight morality tale. But it’s a good move, reckons Mark Lawson

Mark Lawson | May 7, 2000 | The Guardian

Tolstoy can’t have known, when writing a novel back in the 1870s, that trains rushing into tunnels would become a cinematic euphemism for sex. But his book about a Moscow political wife’s passion for a soldier – in which the speed of trains is a metaphor for the dangers and consequences of sexual passion – has consistently attracted film-makers. David Selznick cast Garbo in 1935, while Alexander Korda chose Vivien Leigh for the role in 1947. More recently, the writer-director Bernard Rose made a movie version with Sophie Marceau. Now Helen McCrory stars in a new four-part TV adaptation of Anna Karenina (Tuesday, 9pm, Channel 4).

Penelope Fitzgerald – a fine novelist who died last week – once expressed the hope that television would soon run out of great novels to adapt, and return literature to readers. But, although there are the inevitable losses – authorial tone and psychological complexity – Anna Karenina is, at the basic but crucial level of plot, the perfect book for TV.

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