Loved the "waltz" scene with all my heart. It was evidently absolutely fabricated by the choreographer, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui -- neither Russians nor anyone else in the 1870s (or any other time) engaged in such fluidly graceful ballet of the hands -- but it was amazing to watch.
Actually, the choreography was the best part of the show. No, it wasn't terriffically faithful to Tolstoy's text but then a ballet based on the novel wouldn't have either, and I doubt many would have objected to that.
Actually I think the worst part of the movie was... it was still faithful toTolystoy's text! Geez what a creep! By all accounts it was horrible enough being a part of his real life, particularly if you were female. To be a character in his novel would leave one completely at his mercy!
In one of her best known works, Intercourse , Andrea Dworkin dwells on Tolstoy at length. The guy was a complete asshole to his wife -- nearly killing her with repeated pregnancies while also repeatedly excoriating her for "forcing" him to backslide into sexuality despite his public yearning for pious celibacy and male chastity. (Her diaries tell a story different enough that even if you average the competing claims he's... still an asshole.)
Early in the story Tolstoy has the title character, Anna, travel to Moscow to persuade her brother's wife to forgive him for his affair with their nanny.
The brother, Stiva, is presented as an affable, emotionally content, and ultimately simple man. His take on his affair? (emphasis mine)
And then he suddenly remembered how and why he had been sleeping, not in his wife's chamber, but in the library; the smile vanished from his face and he frowned.
"Akh! Akh! Akh! Akh!" he groaned, as he recollected everything that had occurred. And before his mind arose once more all the details of the quarrel with his wife, all the hopelessness of his situation, and most lamentable of all, his own fault.
"No! She will not and she cannot forgive me. And what is the worst of it, 't was my own fault — my own fault, and yet I am not to blame. In that lies all the tragedy of it," he said to himself.
Clearly not his problem -- he was tempted, end of story. His own fault yet he was not to blame.
Tolstoy wrote the sister-in-law, Dolly, as a saintly but tormented soul. An epitome. An ideal madonna. Anna, frightened by this woman's determination to let her own virtue overcome (cough*patriarchal*cough) duty to her husband, manipulates her by suggesting first that she's not there to condone Stiva or to make excuses for him. Instead, after letting her vent a bit, Anna turns the tables on Dolly's virtue, saying only she could have enough love to forgive him.
A few pages later Anna, herself married, falls in with a wealthy, noble cavalry officer. And despite urging it on Dolly she herself, lacking the ability to maternally submerge herself in her husband's welfare, generally makes everyone's lives miserable before jumping under a train.
Aah, but the dancing in that movie, choreographed to perfection with the music, was supernal.