Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Vertical viewing—Emma

Hi movie fans! I explained my Vertical Viewing  film obsession before (watching and comparing several different versions of films), and here is another 'VV' to consider—Jane Austen's Emma.

Anything Jane Austen was all the rage in the nineties, which is fine by me because I love all 7 of JA's novels, and can't get enough of the films. There was such a flurry of Austen flicks in the '90s; her 1815 novel Emma is bright and refreshing every time I see it. I love the characters in this classic—the smarmy Mr. Elton (played brilliantly, BTW, by the talented Alan Cumming in the Gwenyth Paltrow film), the dashing Frank Churchill, and poor, frumpy, Harriet Smith. who gets her heart and emotions trampled on, but fear not, she also finds love by the end of the book (and films). And Mr. Knightly—do you love that he adores Emma so much, even though he scolded her when she was mean to that penniless bore, Miss bates ("Badly done Emma, badly done."). Sure Emma is rich and spoiled, but her heart is in the right place, and who doesn't love she and Mr. Knightly hook up at the end?

Now, for my fave film adaptations—Wikipedia says that there are over twenty film, TV and stage adaptations of EmmaI do wish there were older film versions—can't you just picture, say... a young Olivia de Havilland in the starring role and Charles Boyer as her Mr. Knightly? Swoon. Alas, there is not. One film that I have not seen yet that intrigues me like crazy is a mod, 2010 Indian version... does Emma go to Bollywood? It's on my list, but for now, here are the adaptations I have seen:

the 1972 version with Doran Godwin (BBC TV)
the 1996 version (called Clueless) with Alicia Silverstone  (film)
the 1996 version Gweneth Paltrow (film)
the 1996 version with with Kate Beckinsale  (film) 
the 2009 version with Romola Garai (BBC TV)

I found the 1972 adaption to be a bit stuffy and dry—Emma wasn't 'delightful' enough for my taste. But in a completely different and clever updated twist, the 1996 the film Clueless, starring Alicia Silverstone, was set in modern day California; that was fun! Next came a flurry of Emma films. There is a 1996 version of the story with Kate Beckinsale as the lead role that was very good, but not my favorite. That honor has to go to 

Gweneth in the 1996 version. Loved it! It was made two years before GP starred in Shakespeare in Love—both films show her command of a darn good faux English accent. In 2009 BBC TV had a version of Emma with the beautiful Romola Garai playing the perpetually matchmaking Emma Woodhouse. This was fabulous and refreshing too, and I found Romola to be appropriately delightful. 

If you love all things Emma (and surely you must, if you are bothering to read this) I found a blog called Emma Adaptations that is completely dedicated to it!

Click on "vertical viewing" label below for other vertical viewing suggestions!
Or click to read my vertical viewing posts of 
 Love AffairAnna Karenina, A Christmas Carol
Cyrano de Bergerac and Shakespeare's Tempest!

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