Leo Tolstoy's masterpiece has been adapted to film at least 20 times, but Lee Sun-fung's Anna remains the sole Chinese version. Set in 1950s Hong Kong and Macau, the film is no longer a love story, but a progressive film that condemns antiquated values such as fidelity, obedience and repression. It simplfies the complex husband-wife relationship of the novel into a clash between an oppressor and the oppressed. As the controllng husband, Ma Si-tsang represents malicious traditional patriarchal values that have repressed women throughout history. Lee, however, invites the audience to contemplate those values by giving the film an open ending.
The 1935 American version, on the other hand, focuses on the forbidden affair between Anna and the cavalry officer, but refuses to lay any moral judgment on the characters. Despite condemnation from the upper class and her husband, Anna runs away in pursuit of true love. Playing the titular character for the second time, Greta Garbo brings a proud staunchness to Anna Karenina that wasn't apparent in Tolstoy's novel. Even though the film has to cover the notoriously dense novel in a short 95 minutes, the intense and dramatic stand-off between Anna and her cruel, ego-hungry husband immediately makes our heroine a sympathetic character that the audience can root for.
|5/5/2019 (Sun)||5:30pm||Cinema, Hong Kong Film Archive|
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