Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Best Three Austen Adaptations - Emma (2010)

You can read about my other two choices for Best Austen Adaptations: Pride and Prejudice (2005) and Sense and Sensibility (1995).

 I don't have the advantage as with the other two on the list that I've watched dozens of times.  I've had plenty of time with those films to figure out why they speak to me so.  With this new-ish BBc adaptation of Emma however, I have just seen it once, last night and just know that I really liked it but not entirely sure why.  Previously I had really liked the theater film version with Gwenyth Paltrow and that might have even been on this list but its been booted in favor of this newer and much longer adaptation.  Here are my thoughts on why I think I liked this 4 part miniseries so much. 

1) The casting.  I think the casting here is really the key to the whole thing especially Romola Garai as Emma.  She's stunning and effervescent and believably on the one hand snotty and too full of herself while also being easily lovable.  Basically, I think she nails Emma.  I saw some grumbling in reviews that she's a little too "modern" in some of her body language and such but it didn't bother me at all.  Johnny Lee Miller is a fantastic Mr. Knightley and the evolution of feelings between the two is believable and not creepy at all.  Te rest of the cast is also quite lovely, including Michael Gambon who makes the ridiculous Mr. Woodhouse into something a bit more then just ridiculous. 

2) The dressing.  The costumes are lovely and understated.  Everybody looks amazing.  The homes and grounds and village are lovingly decorated and create in Highbury a kingdom for Emma to rule and love. 

3) The theatricality.  I think Emma is the book that is most ripe for adaptation to the screen and it translates all the elements well.  With four hour long segments there is room to explore and it does so without getting bogged down.  Each installment ends at just the right spot.

I think that's all I have to say about this one at this point.  I'll have to see if it holds up to multiple re-watchings and if I continue to appreciate the four hour running time.

What did you think of this adaptation of Emma?  How do you think it compares with the Gwenyth Paltrow version?  Who do you like best Gwenyth Paltrow or Romola Garai?  What are your favorite Austen adaptations?

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