The first trailer has been released of director Joe Wright's adaptation of the classic novel Anna Karenina.

The film stars Keira Knightley as the titular character in 19th century Russia. Shackled in an unhappy marriage with Alexei Karenin (Jude Law), she falls into a dangerous romance with young Count Vronsky (Aaron Johnson).

Director Joe Wright seemed destined to select Knightley to lead his cast. Having worked with her in his previous literary adaptations Atonement and Pride and Prejudice, for which she received an Oscar nomination.

Wright appeared to be carving himself a cinematic niche as the go-to director for lavish period dramas. His previous films showed he had an eye for sweeping vistas and a panache for camera movements amongst his gossiping characters.

However, in taking on the not unsubstantial challenge of Leo Tolstoy's adored novel, Wright decided to test himself with an interesting new filming style.

The entire film takes place in a single, giant, constantly evolving set within a fantastical stage show. Interior and outdoor sets collide and cross over in an interesting visual experiment.

Wright described the film as having a "fluid linearity" as the set is transformed into an ice rink at one moment, before a full-size train drives through it the next.

The brave filming style and strong cast is bolstered still further by a screeplay penned by renowned playwright Tom Stoppard.

All of these factors make it unsurprising that Anna Karenina is already being touted as a serious Academy Award contender. Could this be the year that Wright's favourite leading lady takes the ultimate film prize?

Anna Karenina will be released in September 2012.