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Emma (Jane Austen serialization BBC)

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2 Reviews

Dramatization of Jane Austen's classic

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    2 Reviews
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      16.03.2010 15:17
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      Emma - wealthy young woman, takes matchmaking too far.

      I should be embarrassed to say it, but I now have 3 dvds of Emma and love them all. My favourite is the latest adaption, which came out in four parts in 2009. I received the dvd at Christmas and have watch it about five times since then.

      Now I am sure that most people out there know the story of Emma, which was written by Jane Austen. I own two adaptions from 1996, one starring Kate Beckinsale and the other Gwyneth Paltrow. The most recent adaption stars the beautiful and very talented Romola Garai.

      *The Story*

      When Emma and her older sister, Isabella lose their mother at an early age, their wealthy father Mr Woodhouse (Michael Gambon) hires a young governess, Anne Taylor (Jodhi May) to take care of them.
      Mr Woodhouse has became a very nervous man since the death of his wife and his girls mean everything to him. He is therefore very protective of them and only trusts Anne to look after their welfare.
      The girls grow up very close to their loving and kindly governess and become very happy young women.

      Emma has been lucky to have grown up in such a wealthy family, but that is nothing compared to the wealth of her friend and neighbour, George Knightley (Jonny Lee Miller), who owns Donwell estate. George has a younger brother, John, who soon takes a liking to Isabella. When Emma spots this, she starts matchmaking between them. Very soon the young couple declare their love for each other and get married.

      Mr Woodhouse is sad to see his oldest daughter leave home, but takes comfort in the fact that Emma has no plans to ever marry and that they both have the company of Emma's governess, Anne.
      Unbeknown to Mr Woodhouse, Emma has found a passion for matchmaking and she soon realises that Anne and another neighbour, Mr Weston, are attracted to each other. She takes it upon herself, to have her dear friend married to the kind and wealthy Mr Weston, as soon as possible and of course succeeds!

      Emma congratulates herself on what a successful matchmaker she is, but soon starts getting carried away. She befriends a young women, called Harriet and talks her out of marrying the young farmer she has fallen in love with, as Emma thinks he is a lowly choice. This is where her matchmaking begins to go wrong and she is soon warned off by George Knightley, who thinks the young farmer was a perfect match for Harriot.
      George cares deeply about Emma and dislikes the way she gets involved and meddles with the affairs of others. Their close relationship becomes strained, especially after the arrival of Mr Weston's son, the handsome and very amiable, Frank Churchill.

      Can Emma and George save their friendship? Can Frank Churchill be trusted or does he have an ulterior motive for showing up after so many years?

      You'll just have to tune in and see.

      This really is a wonderful adaption of Emma. For me, Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller, were Emma Woodhouse and George Knightley. They played the parts brilliantly, were both very attractive and there was a definite chemistry between them.

      There were many other characters and they had all been well picked and suited their parts perfectly.

      The costumes and scenery were amazing and all added to the atmosphere and I found myself completely glued for the whole 229 minutes. When this dvd goes on, I can't put it off half way through and watch the rest later. I have to watch all of it!

      Emma is available online and costs £9.99 on Amazon.

      If you are a fan of period dramas, you really should own a copy of this.

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      • More +
        27.10.2009 01:50
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        Highly recommended

        This 2009 BBC serialisation of Jane Austen's 'Emma' is the 3rd time the 1815 novel has been adapted for television (the previous two being a 1972 BBC series, starring Doran Godwin, & a 1996 feature-length ITV drama, featuring Kate Beckinsale in the title role). The most famous adaptation is probably the 1996 film, in which Gwyneth Paltrow appeared as Emma.

        This newest version stars the very talented Romola Garai, who has also appeared in Atonement, I Capture the Castle & Vanity Fair, among other things. Other famous faces to appear in the series include Michael Gambon as Emma's father, Mr Woodhouse; Jonny Lee Miller as Mr Knightley; Jodhi May as Miss Taylor; & Tamsin Greig as Miss Bates.

        The story, as you may guess, centres around the young Emma Woodhouse, a wealthy, happy & rather spoiled 20-year-old. She lives with her doting father, & is mistress of the house as her mother died when she was very young, & her older sister has recently married. Being very happy with her situation, she claims to have no interest in marriage for herself, but likes nothing more than match-making for her friends & acquaintances.

        I don't want to give too much away as it would spoil it for those unfamiliar with the story, so I will just say that throughout the film we get to know Emma & the other residents of the village of Highbury, from the richest (such as Emma) to the less well-off. We also find out the consequences of Emma's attempts to influence others in their choice of partner, & discover whether or not Emma herself will ever experience romance.

        To be honest, a summary of the plot of Emma sounds pretty boring, especially to someone like me who wouldn't usually be interested in a drama that's simply about match-making & weddings. However, the reason I'm such a fan of Emma is for the wonderfully appealing characters. You just can't help wanting to get to know them & to see how all their relationships (romantic or otherwise) play out. This adaptation has been perfectly cast & directed, with all the characters' qualities coming through from very understated performances. From very early on, you fall in love with the lovable characters & dislike the less lovable ones, without there being any exaggerated characteristics trying to tell you whom you're 'supposed' to like.

        As with other Jane Austen novels, the plot has several twists, & you are unlikely to guess who will end up with whom by the end. For those familiar with the story, there are some hints that are fun to spot, but these should not give the game away for people watching for the first time.

        Romola Garai portrays Emma as a wonderfully vivacious character, whom you can't help loving despite her imperfections. The rest of the cast form a wonderful ensemble, which is another thing I like about 'Emma' - there aren't just three or four main characters; there are at least ten, which I find much more interesting & varied.

        Michael Gambon steals the show as the caring & needlessly worrying Mr Woodhouse, although he manages to do this whilst remaining mostly quite quiet & in the background. Jonny Lee Miller is also worthy of mention for his understated yet rather adorable portrayal of Mr Knightley. The whole cast, however, is excellent.

        As you would expect from a BBC period drama, the sets/locations & costumes are beautiful. Unfortunately I can't really say how this adaptation compares to the book, as it's quite a while since I read it, however watching this has made me want to read it again.

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