Watching Emma (2009)

Emma is not the easiest Austen-heroine to love. Unlike others she is rich, spoiled, from a family of consequence and she knows it. She is interfering with other peoples business with her (disastrous) matchmaking and she’s a gossip when it comes to Miss Fairfax. Worst of all she flirts unrelentlessly with Frank Churchill. Who can help but feel a little annoyed at her? Then again, slowly realising her mistakes, Emma redeems herself towards the end of the story.

Due to the little stir in Austen-land concerning the broadcasting of BBC’s Emma 2009 in the US, I decided to rewatch the series. And I have to admit that I loved it. It might not be completely true to the book by Jane Austen, in that the dialogue has been modernized, but I do not mind that generally if it’s done in a proper and fitting way. And this recent adaptation succeeds in doing just that. The story gets a good amount of time to develop (four hours) and the scenery and overall feel of the adaptation is amazing. It is so colourful and beautiful! It may not be absolutely period-accurate, but then again, I do not mind so much.

Romola Garai as Emma grew on me. I thought her more believable than Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Beckinsale (both 1996). She did have an awful lot of facial expressions that looked as if she was practising emotions such as “shock” or “wonder” for actor-class, but I had the feeling that the obviousness lessened throughout the series. Or maybe I just got used to it, who knows? Somehow, I thought her acting fitted the part of Emma and even her over-the-top facial expressions contributed to that somewhat.

Then there are some of the male actors. First of all, Michael Gambon did a very good job playing Mr. Woodhouse. (But then, being the silly girl I am, I couldn’t help but smile when I finally thought of where I knew him from, Dumbledore!). I wasn’t sure about Johny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightley at first. But in the end I think he made a lot of sense. He does fit the role of being someone who’s serious and always there for everyone, but who is often overlooked when it comes to matchmaking. And then, Blake Ritson as Mr. Elton. Can I just say that I thought he was the hottest Mr. Elton ever? Of course, I already knew that he looks great in costume, having played, what I dubbed “emo”, Edmund in Mansfield Park (2007). Yet, in Emma he managed to combine it with the slitheriness of a snake which made me dislike him in a way Mr. Elton should be disliked.

Overall, very satisfying adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, which made me realise once again why I should reread the original.

2 responses to “Watching Emma (2009)

  1. I so wanted to watch this latest adaption, but I could never get the media player on the PBS/BBC websites. I’m planning on getting it through Netflix, though, when it comes out on dvd.

    • I couldn’t get the mediaplayers from the BBC website to work either, but that’s because I’m from the Netherlands and the BBCplayers only work for people from the UK (or so I’ve been told). I purchased the DVD from amazon.co.uk, but that might not be an option for US residents, since it’s probably the wrong region.

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