I just watched this lovely adaption of Emma today. I can’t wait to share my thoughts about it.
I’ll be starting a new format for my reviews which I borrowed from Miss Laurie of Old-Fashioned Charm. Hope you like it. BTW, I will be re-reviewing some Jane Austen films such as S and S (1995) and both adaptions (1995 and 2005) of P and P later, using this format.
Accuracy to the book: This Emma adaption stayed true to the book in some ways but not in others. For instance, Harriet is not portrayed how Jane Austen described her. Her hair is red (!) for one thing and she is not small and petite as I always imagined Harriet to be. She is very pretty, though.
Some parts were cut out or speeded up, but that is understandable because it is only two hours long. However, for the first hour, I felt as if the story was moving along way too quickly. They merged the strawberry picking and the Box Hill incident together, but I didn’t really mind.
However, most of the major events were left complete – Christmas at Randalls, the Coles’ party, the ball, and the proposal. 🙂 There is one thing that I do not look back upon with pleasure; they took out Mr. Knightly’s best line – “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.” Even the 1997 adaption left that in!
Overall, this adaption stayed quite true to the book with a few differences.
Costumes: Emma’s costumes were very simple, but elegant. I liked several of her gowns, though, oddly enough, not her ball gown (the ball when she dances with Mr. Knightly). I did like her cape in that scene even though you hardly get to see it. I especially like her costume when she and Mr. Knightly are shooting arrows (and words!).
The other gowns reflect on the wearer especially Harriet’s – they are almost childish in appearance. I won’t describe the men’s costumes because they are not very interesting IMHO.
Scenery/Sets: The target practice scene is shot (no pun intended :)) at a nice location. Other than that, the scenery was pretty, nothing else.
Some of the sets were quite dark but the Bates’ house, the ball, and a few other scenes were quite brightly lit.
Overall, the scenery and sets were quite normal for a movie. Although it had nothing like ‘Liz on top of the world’ I quite liked all the settings for the scenes shot in the movie.
Music: The music in Emma was light-hearted and enjoyable. I especially enjoyed the music that plays when Emma and Harriet are sewing under the tent.
Of course, the music during the Emma/Knightly dance is fittingly slowed down and made more romantic than many of the other tracks.
Emma – Gwenyth Paltrow played Emma very well indeed. I always imagined Emma to be blond and I like how she rolls her eyes when Mr. Knightly reproves her during target practice. She is my favorite Emma.
Mr. Knightly – Jeremy Northam might be a little young to play Mr. Knightly I still enjoy watching him interact with Emma (and reprove her). He carries off the “Badly done indeed!” scene perfectly.
The other characters I will quickly summarize. Miss Bates is, I think, very true to how Jane Austen wrote of her. Jane Fairfax is convincingly reserved. She looks a lot like Olivia Williams who played Jane Fairfax in Emma 1997. Mr. Elton is not well played – he looks too stupid. Mrs. Elton is perfect – vulgar and irritating. Harriet is not very true to the book but I like her anyway. Mr. and Mrs. Weston are played well but Frank Churchill’s hair is frightful (he had it too short so he had to wear a wig).
My final thoughts: This adaption of Emma is one of my favorites and I would highly recommend it to anyone.