Monday, March 24, 2008

Masterpiece's Emma

Janeite though I may be, I had never seen this version of Emma before. And I must confess to a strong inclination towards the feature film starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam, which may show me to be a shallow Jane Austen film fan, but that's as it may be.Things I liked about this version:

- Kate Beckinsale's Emma was very good. I know this actress has been in some other sci-fi things but I've never seen them. She was quite convincing as the matchmaking, misguided but good intentioned heroine.

- This Frank Churchill was much better than poor Ewan MacGregor's attempt. The only other thing I've seen this actor in was Muppet's Christmas Carol and he was quite good in that too. I'm kidding. Maybe.

- Harriet Smith was better than the other version. She seemed very young, vulnerable and impressionable in this version instead of just silly and stupid as she seems in the other.

Things I did not like:
- Mr. Knightley. Ugh. Ugh. And Ugh again. There is absolutely no "chemistry" or whatever you want to call it between Ms. Beckinsale and Mr. Strong. I was left with an "ick" feeling as the two of them promised to marry each other. Prince Charming (who was watching with me, dear man!) said that this Mr. Knightley is like Mr. Darcy without his attitude change, always shouting, always scowling. Jeremy Northam is much more to my taste for Mr. Knightley.

- The emphasis on servants, serving, and squalor. Maybe it is realistic but it seemed heavy handed and politically pointed to me.

- The Eltons were not nearly annoying enough. Other than Mrs. Elton's appalling accent (where was she supposed to be from?) they didn't make much of an impression one way or the other on me.

So, there you have it: for me it was a mixed bag. If we could combine this Frank Churchill / Jane Fairfax and their story line with the other movie it would be just about right to me. I'd take either Emma, though I know Gwyneth Paltrow is not to everyone's taste. And we must have Sophie Thompson's Miss Bates. "Pork, mother!"

If you'd like to see it:

Or compare Gwyneth Paltrow's version:

Picture from PBS

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh, goody! Another Emma fan! :) I love both versions. In the Kate Beckinsale version, Emma's daydreams crack me up. ("How can we ever thank you, Miss Woodhouse, for showing us where true joy is to be found? Mrs. Elton and I will be eternally in your debt.")

I agree that this version's Frank Churchill was better than McGregor's in the Gwynneth Paltrow version.(Even though I wanted to like McGregor's better, since Obi-Wan Kenobi's one of my favorite Star Wars characters. Say, are you an Obi-Wan fan, too?)

I candidly but kindly disagree with you about Mark Strong's Knightley--ahem, *Mr.* Knightley. I liked him, even if he did get pretty stern with Emma. (If I knew Emma personally, I'd be stern, too. LOL.) I think his portrayal is more in line with what Mr. Knightley was like in the book than Jeremy Northam's.

Oh, and I do love Sophie Thomson's Miss Bates. "Lovely, lovely, lovely!"

By the way, I read somewhere that the actress that played Mrs. Elton was using a Bristol accent, since Mrs. E was supposed to be from Bristol. For a minute, I had thought the film makers were trying to emphasize Mrs. E's ignorance and vulgarity by giving her a semi-American accent--and since I'm American, I'm glad to know it was only a Bristol accent. I know a British accent sounds more sophisticated than an American one, but people don't have to rub it in. :)

-Christine from Arizona

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