Dear Readers,

I now consider this blog to be my Juvenelia. Have fun perusing the archives, and find me at my new haunt, here.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Obligatory Pre-Emma Post

It's been a roller-coaster weekend for me anticipating Emma 2009, readers. Last week I began re-reading Emma and got really excited by how funny and witty and brilliant the book is and that pumped me up for tonight. Then today I read a bunch of commenters all over the internets really trashing the adaptation and my heady anticipation took a hit.

It's confusing--Sandy Welch's adaptations (North and South and 2006's Jane Eyre) are two of the best in the last five years, so she seems the obvious choice to screenwrite. Romola Garai's Gwendolyn Harleth in Daniel Deronda is like another side of Emma Woodhouse--shallow-rich 19th century woman played as tragic instead of comic. So again, good choice in casting. I thought Johnny Lee Miller was a fine choice for Knightley, and obviously Gambon as Mr. Woodhouse is less inspired than mandatory.

Still, sometimes the right ingredients don't add up to the perfect meal. So there's nothing to do but wait and see. I'm going to keep an open mind and try to enjoy the adaptation for its own sake (even as I re-read the book just so I can get angry about more discrepancies--but there's fun in that, there is!). I'll be joining the twitter conversation as this adaptation airs--hastags #Emma_pbs and #emma.

Also, I wrote a little blog post at Speakeasy about how Clueless is my favorite Emma adaptation and how hard it is to top Alicia Silverstone's charm when casting an Emma character. Head over there and check it out and prove that Austen fatigue hasn't hit the internets.


  1. Anonymous11:21 PM

    Here's why Alicia Silverstone turned vegan! Check out this informative and inspiring video.

  2. What did you think of the adaptation's first half? I really liked it. I don't think Jonny Lee Miller looks old enough to be Mr. Knightley, compared to Garai's Emma, but I have a feeling that may have been done on purpose to make the age discrepancy seem less. I really liked Jeremy Northam as Knightley, but I like Miller, too. I think he plays Knightley in more of the disapproving manner than Northam did, which is more true to the book. I am enjoying the series, and I'm so glad it's so long!

    Also, I agree about Welch's adaptations. I am seriously obsessed with her North & South. And not just because of Richard Armitage...

    Glad to find your blog!

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of this adaptation. Romolai Garai was wonderful! So vibrant and full of life. Nice to have more of an emphasis on the humor, some of the BBC adaptations lately have been very understated. This had some great Austen'esque comic moments. However I also liked the emphasis on loneliness, because I've felt that while Emma is the "queen bee" of Highbury she's also very much alone. I get the feeling that it has always been expected of her that she'll take care of crazy hypochondriac dad. After losing Miss Taylor, she realizes that she wants ppl her age to hang with. Her relationship w/Harriet begins selfishly. I'm glad that this adaptation sees that. Like Johnny Lee Miller too. The "argument" scene was very well-written & acted.

  4. Clueless is my favorite Emma adaptation too -- probably because it's the most charming and accessible. And so quote-worthy too: "I hope not sporadically," "I am majorly, totally butt-crazy in love with Josh!"

  5. So what did I think? I liked it more than I expected but not enough as I hoped. I found the modernization of the language and dialogue irritating in that it made it hard to get lost in the world. I also thought all the add-ons dragged down Austen's economically-breezy plot.

    It was shot beautifully and much of the acting is fine, even great. This miniseries excels when it highlights subtle moments: Emma's loneliness paralleled to Miss Bates; Knightley's own naivete about why Emma gets under his skin, etc etc. Still it too often makes the Joe Wrightish mistake of feeling it necessary to explain what's going on and adding on to Austen's dialogue.
    And while it's acceptable to highlight sad moments or moments of conflict, this isn't a drama! It's a comedy.

    Did I enjoy it though? Of course. And there was more that came right out of the book than I expected.

  6. Those extra scenes at the beginning were extraneous to me, too, and seemed somewhat in a different tone than the rest of the movie. But I love the really long, somewhat leisurely adaptations. I enjoy getting to see Emma in a way through Knightley's eyes. I thought in the book that he was fairly harsh to her, but I think Miller tempers that well sometimes (except when he told her he was lucky not to grow up as a spoilt little girl- harsh!). And I do think the lonely factor comes out well in this movie.

    Garai I liked, mostly, but sometimes her contortionist facial expressions were a bit much. LOVED the costuming, though!

  7. Anonymous12:07 AM

    I was puzzled by the script also. I miss Austen's beautiful language. My 20 something niece loves Austen movies but has not been able to complete one of her novels. She loved this Emma adaptation, so there's its demographic.