Being an avid Jane Austen fan, I have watched every single adaptation of Emma (as well as Austen's other works). The older 1972 BBC adaptation, Emma (BBC, 1972) was quite tepid and the lead actress was not very inspiring in her role, lacking the upbeat, and sunny disposition that one associates with Austen's character. Then there was the A&E version starring Kate Beckinsale in the title role, in Emma (A&E, 1997) which though much better than the 1972 version (which also suffered from inferior production qualities), was still not the best adaptation. Finally, there was the movie version of "Emma" starring Gwyneth Paltrow, and until this current adaptation, this was actually my personal favorite (even though I personally found Paltrow's...
A superb cast with some exceptions. First, the character of Emma. She spends most of her time looking like a fish gulping air. Eyes wide and staring. Slightly clumsy and foolish. There is no hint of the sophistication that this is the most prestigious lady in the county. The diathermy of Hartfield.Perhaps that is the way she was supposed to be adapted? A schoolgirl foolish and immature. By this time in her life, though young she should have mastered the attitudes and character of her station in life. Instead we see her like a deer caught in the headlights. She seems all over the place. In her meetings with Mrs Elton, there was no putting forth of her social superiority. This always puzzled me about the relationship of Mrs Elton to the rest of the characters. She was after all only the wife of a clergyman. Who, as I understand it was way down on the pecking order of the social ladder. Here we see all the characters bowing to her foolishness, Emma in particular does nothing to put her...
Have seen many versions of Emma, including the glammed-up Hollywood version with Gwyneth P, and this version starts out very strong, with the creative new twist of focusing on the two small children being sent away from their homes to live with strangers. This is a very smart move inasmuch as the central 'misunderstanding' of the novel focuses on the adults these children become, and gives more emotional resonance to their actions. It even makes Frank Churchill a more sympathetic character, tho' that may not have been Austen's intention. That said, Romola Garai is a relatively weak Emma compared to others who have played the role, even American Gwyneth. Garai seems to think that continual bulging eyes and giggles best denote Emma's immaturity, which of course they do, but they ring false -- these ticks do not fit in with the outward composure and 18th century manners that a gently-raised, wealthy member of the upper class would have displayed publicly. They made her governess look...
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