by Kolby Solinsky
Editor, White Cover Magazine
On one hand, you’ve got the tumultuous history of post-Renaissance Paris. Well, France. You have the wake of Napoleon. You’ve got Anne Hathaway singing “I Dreamed a Dream” and gunning for an Oscar. You’ve got Hugh Jackman hoping to show that Australia wasn’t just a fluke. (That’s a good thing, because it would have been a weak fluke.)
Then, at the other end and across the soon-to-come Iron Curtain, you have the Russians and their only period of empirical power. You have Anna Karenina. You have Keira Knightley in hid third movie with the same director (Pride and Prejudice and Atonement, if you’re looking for a comparison or an idea of how she’ll be portrayed). You have an affair of the highest Eastern European order. It’s like The Duchess, but actually good.
And, you have the authors. Victor Hugo on one end. Leo Tolstoy on the other.
You’ve also got two films and two stories that revolve around extraordinarily independent, strong female leads. And, female characters. And, they live in an era where the idea of a strong, independent women was little more than a fantasy. It’s why affairs for men were treated as a diplomatic hassle, while affairs for women were a syrupy spit on God’s face.
It’s a clash of (perhaps) the two greatest authors of the 19th century, brought forward in a time of unrelenting uncreativity from Hollywood. With no screenwriters left to hire and no stories left to write, the studios have turned to tales we know all too well. They’ve put their focus into trailers, not the films themselves.
So, which one wins: Tolstoy and Karenina, or Hugo and Les Mis?