From Russia to Richmond upon Thames: Anna Karenina and the National Trust

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Being asked to attend both a screening and press conference for the new theatrical adaptation of Anna Karenina,(released today), is definitely something that most people would not expect to do when beginning your first day working as an Intern for the National Trust. Yet for me this happened and what a fantastic experience it was.

My day began previewing the film in a small screening room in London. Director Joe Wright’s reworking of Leo Tolstoy’s famous romantic but tragic novel, told the tale brilliantly of an aristocratic Russian woman stuck in a loveless, political marriage who finds her freedom, yet eventual upset, whilst undertaking an affair with a younger man.

Starring Keira Knightley in the lead and supported by both Jude Law as her husband, Alexei Karenin and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, as her lover, Count Vronksy, the National Trust’s role comes from the great use of one its great places, Ham House.  

Located alongside the banks of the river in Richmond-upon-Thames, Ham’s Long Gallery takes centre stage, as the Count’s magnificent St Petersburg apartments, with numerous scenes featuring Keira and Aaron.

By mid-afternoon, whilst still in shock at watching a film for the first time with only a mere 15 other people, my day was to get even better through not only visiting Claridge’s but by also getting a chance to speak to the main stars as well.

As the actors filtered in and were introduced to the waiting crowd, each, for me, came over as calm, collected and very much (for once) like their public profile. As time went on and we came to the final question, me and my colleague finally got chance to ask about Ham’s role.

Wright discussed his career as a filmmaker, and described how he started out shooting on location but more and more he is moving away from real locations to studios, where he can create huge spaces to ‘layout out his dreams’.

The greatest response of the day, it has to be said, came from Knightley herself. When asked about rumours surrounding her supposedly being the actor who has filmed most within National Trust properties, she replied kindly by stating,

 “Yes, I must be! (Laughter) Can I get membership?’

Not only could this mean further Trust dealings with the star in the future (I hope so) but it also signalled for me the end to a memorable first day and one which creates great excitement for all the opportunities the Trust could offer me over the next 6 months. I cannot wait.

Jamie White, Press Office Intern

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