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Thursday, 8 October 2009

Review of ‘Emma’

Jane Austen’s 'Emma' always sets me a problem, albeit a very nice one. I always think ‘Pride & Prejudice’ is my favourite Austen novel until I re-read ‘Emma’ – there are so many good things I discover in it which I have never noticed before.
Did BBC1's Emma come up to scratch? I thought the beginning was very dark – my jaw dropped when coffins appeared – do we really need the back-story of Emma’s childhood as an introduction? It might have been more imaginative to ‘flash back’ to it. As always, the costumes and settings looked stunning. At first I felt it was a rather lack-lustre ‘Emma’ – a pale imitation of the novel. Emma’s character was deeply annoying, but then she is supposed to be at the start of the book. Miss Bates (Tamsin Greig) was far too quiet – she is supposed to be a ‘great talker on small matters.’
As usual Austen’s dialogue stands out whenever used, so why not include more of it?
Mr Elton (Blake Ritson) was very good, just enough of a toady without turning into Mr Collins, but I had my doubts about Mr Knightley (Jonny Lee Miller) at first. Does he have enough gravitas for the part? However, I found myself warming to him by the end of the programme, especially when he tore a strip off Emma (Romola Garai) over Robert Martin’s romance. I will be watching part 2 at the weekend.
To the critics who ask whether we really need another Austen novel on screen, I would much rather watch an Austen adaptation than the likes of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ or ‘X Factor.’
Having said all that, a little imagination from the programme makers wouldn’t go amiss – how about an adaptation of Austen’s Lady Susan? Now that would be worth watching!


JaneGS said...

I haven't seen the new Emma, and may or may not as it doesn't have any fans and only a few who don't slam it, but a Lady Susan. Who could resist?

Sue Wilkes said...

I think a lot more could be done to bring the Austen juvenilia to a wider audience. Lady Susan in particular would be an eye-opener for those who appear to think Austen was just a simpering Regency spinster.

Jane Odiwe said...

I agree with so much of what you've said, Sue.
It doesn't have to be word for word Jane Austen, but I do get a bit fed up with this 'dumbing down' of her work.
I, too, have warmed to Mr Knightley, though I feel he's not quite right. He's too good looking for a start and doesn't seem old enough - however, he is a very good actor and I've warmed to him a lot!

Sue Wilkes said...

I thought part 3 was rather more true to the book - Mrs Elton was suitably awful. I know what you mean about Mr Knightley not being quite old enough, though - he is supposed to be an old family friend. But I am getting used to him!