Social Issues in the Films “Anna Karenina” and “The First Grader”
“Anna Karenina” is considered to be a great historical novel written by Russian world renowned novelist Lev Tolstoy. It is also a film directed by Joe Wright. It serves up all the important issues intertwined with tasty, thrilling, salacious and tantalizing gossip. It is a story with varied affairs, complete with sex, heartbreak and eventually, suicide-by-train (Anna Karenina). Having written the novel during the 1870s, there were lots of political and societal changes in Russia. The novel occurs against the backdrop of liberal reforms represented by Emperor Alexander II in the 1860s. These reforms involved prompt growth and development of industry, building construction, military reforms and introduction of free press. The local government implemented a newly elaborated form of governance named zemstvo (a system established in tsarist Russia to control local affairs after the abolition of serfdom). Throughout the novel, there is increasing tension between patriarchal aristocracy and freethinking middle class, between modernity and conservativity. Levin takes part in the zemstvo, where one can observe various discussions between innovation and obsolete methods.
The epigraph “Vengeance is mine, I shall repay” highlights that the only person permitted to judge is God. Thus, all the people make themselves into hypocrites and small-minded beliefs when we attempt to judge someone else. Women’s rights fall under peculiar scrutiny. For instance, during Oblonsky’s dinner party, characters strenuously discuss the varied merits and distinctions of feminism. Conservative traditions are beginning to fade into history as well as change. Dolly and Anna begin to treat their marriages in a negative way attempting to demonstrate few escape options. Princess Shcherbatskaya is frightened when Kitty persuades to choose her husband rather than submit to marriage. Lev Tolstoy detects that the 19th century Russian society was artificial and vain. The urban world is full of scandal, deceit, corruption, rumors and gossip. Anna’s adultery is considered as a social sin, and its repercussions are treated in such a way of how it will reflect in society rather than the personal and individual consequences.
In comparison with above-mentioned film, “The First Grader” is considered to be a biographical film directed by Justin Chadwick. The plot of the film is based on the real-life story of Naomie Maruge. He is the oldest Kenyan farmer who at age of 84 enrolled in elementary school (The First Grader). The plot itself is stirring and heartwarming. Maruge is not just merely an elderly man who enrolled a new school in the village when the Kenyan’s government announced information about free universal primary education. He is a former Mau Mau tribesman who was constrained in the British prison camp and lost his family when he participated in a rebellion against the British colonialists. It is unbearably painful to observe how many repugnant circumstances concerning discrimination he faces from his own countrymen. However, both school authorities and his teacher Jane Obinchu are reluctant and skeptical to admit an octogenarian alongside young people. In length of time, the teacher observes his unyielding firmness to learn how to read and write. Thus, she starts helping him, even as she puts at a distance her husband and government authorities who are just
bureaucratically stiff in Kenya. In the film there are a lot of striking representations of rural and urban life in Kenya. The scenes in the classroom are entertainingly indispensable, assisted by the natural performances of the Kenyan’s children and atmosphere.
The film appeals as well as involves irrespective of its stodgy moments. Its message is connected with the significance of giving the poorest strata of society an opportunity to self-development and self-improvement.
Anna Karenina. Dir. Joe Wright. Per. Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Paul Webste. Focus Features, 2012. Film.
The First Grader. Dir. Justin Chadwick. Per. Sam Feuer, Richard Harding and Nicola Blacker. National Geographic Entertainment, 2010. Film.