MovieChat Forums > Emma (1996) Discussion > This adaption is a mess...especially cas...

This adaption is a mess...especially casting


Oh my. I rented the DVD of this the other day for some light entertainment, both being a fan of the book and the Paltrow version.
Unfortunately IMO this is a complete mess.
Beckinsale is o.k. as Emma and Jane Fairfax is played well,but Mr Knightly comes off as a bit psychopathic with a bad hair sitiation who needs some anger management courses (he always seems to be yelling), Emma's father comes off as mildly retarded...and the accent on the (american?) Mrs Elton! OMG...it was the worst thing ever. Harriett Smith is completely forgettable and Mr Elton doesn't nail his part at all.

The screenplay is also a bit all over the place with the relationships between Emma and Churchill, and Knightly and Fairfax coming off a bit oddly. Also, there was no chemistry between Emma and Knightly....

Also,since when was John Knightly a horrible, dull complainer? Also...those "dreams" that Emma kept on having got really old after about 2 seconds.

I'd like to know what everyone else thought though. It doesn't seem to be as hated as I would have thought.

Did anyone else get creeped out when Knightly is about the kiss her and he starts talking about how he held her when he was 3 weeks old. I was like...o.k.

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I'm sorry to hear you thought this a bad version. The screenplay is by the much admired (in Britain, at any rate) Andrew Davies, who, you might know, was also responsible for the adaptation of the 1995 BBC Pride And Prejudice; what's more it is devoid of some of the anachronisms of the Paltrow version. I don't know whether you've read the book, but the worrying, hypochondriac Mr Woodhouse is as he should be, likewise the slightly tongue-in-cheek complaints of John Knightley. He is not as dull as he seems to purposefully appear - remember how he is with his children? I also thought Harriet Smith was very well played by Samantha Morton.

Mrs Elton comes from Bristol, so I see why the makers decided to give her a West country accent - though it is not so strong, and could be mistaken for American to unfamiliar ears.

Personally, I prefer this version as being closer to the book in spirit, atmosphere, script and look. As an aside, I do like Gwyneth Paltrow, but Emma has dark hair and hazel eyes.

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hey laan,

are you serious about the accent? I could have sworn it was a terrible american attempt.
I think I'll have to read the book again :)

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Yes, Mrs Elton (hitherto Miss Augusta Hawkins) does indeed come from Bristol - that much is specified in the book. I don't know how best to describe the west country accent to you. As I said, the actress in this version of Emma did not speak it as strongly as it could be - but the very distinctive thing about it is its rolling 'r', in other respects it does not really resemble American. A good example of it perhaps is the accent adopted by Samwise Gamgee in the film of The Lord Of the Rings (something completely different!).

That aside, do you think you could be persuaded to regard this version of Emma in a new light - gradually, perhaps?...

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HI Laan,
O.k..I believe you...but ONLY if I discover the actress was born and bred in the UK....I'm going to check it out. :) haha
No...re: the version. I really didn't like it. It didn't charm me in the slightest...and I really disliked Mr Knightley's interpretation of the role. I also wasn't that keen on Harriet Smith's portrayal (wasn't all that keen on Toni Collete's version either though) and I don'tthink IMO Beckinsale nailed it in terms of Emma.

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What a pity! Though I do think well enough of the Hollywood version, I must say I much prefer this one in every respect. Sadly, what I couldn't at all reconcile with in the former was Ewan McGregor as Churchill! Also, however pedantic you'll think me, though I'm particularly fond of the song 'Silent Worship' (from Handel's 'Ptolemeo' - or 'Ptolemy' in English version), the English words to it were not conceived of until the latter part of the nineteenth century by Arthur Sommervell, so nobody during Austen's time could have sung it as Emma and Frank did!

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Hi Laan,
I agree that Ewan wasn't the best choice as Churchill...but this version's Churchill is infinitely worse IMO. He has the scariest smile in the history of smiles and was just creepy and very hard to watch. This coupled with the misinterpretation (IMO) of Mr Knightly really ruins the version for me.
haha, oh dear, I don't think we're ever going to agree on this one :)

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'He has the scariest smile in the history of smiles '

That's so funny! Indeed you are not alone in thinking so, and whilst I have no problem with it myself, I can see what you mean!

Several posters on this board have also expressed a dislike for Mark Strong's Mr Knightley. Oh well... I suppose seeing Jeremy Northam first COULD quite easily decide that point. And I daresay his being quite the handsomer of the two must surely count in his favour :) ( I think this may well be the point on which we do agree!)... I do like BOTH interpretations, however.

Perhaps it is fair to say that we are both influenced by our first viewing? As I said before, I DO quite like the Hollywood version, but I'm afraid I'm inclined to think better of the British version - perhaps I could also be biased BY my living here, if truth be told!

Still, I am very much gratified by our being able to have an amicable disagreement!

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The actress who plays Mrs. Elton is from England.

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Yes, the actress is performing a Bristol accent in the film. (And Augusta Elton, neé Hawkins, hails from Bristol in the novel). Lucy Robinson, who plays Mrs. Elton, is indeed born and bred in England. She also appears as Mrs. Hurst, Caroline Bingley's older sister, Louisa, in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice. Additionally, she plays the "jellyfisher" in Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason, who tries to make Bridget feel bad about herself and suspicious of Mark.
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0732867/


One of the anchors on BBC World News (which you can watch twice daily on most PBS channels), has a Bristol accent.

Here is a link I found in a thread lower on the board, a BBC program about the Bristol accent. http://www.bbc.co.uk/bristol/content/sop/brizzle/story.shtml

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dear randommovies,
how interesting! I've learnt something new. Haha Laan, you were right.
I suppose the fact that her accent is genuine makes me hate the 96 version of Emma.
thanks for the info randommovies!

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Mrs. Elton IS from Bristol and this apparently is what a Bristol accent sounds like. In the book (which you haven't read), it is mentioned that Mrs. Elton is from Bristol -- and that is one of the things that strongly implies that her father was involved in the slave trade. We are supposed to dislike Mrs. Elton for that and for many other reasons as well.

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Just saw the Beckinsale version again and I am surprised to realize I prefer the Hollywood version. Alan Cumming makes an unctuous Elton and Sophie Thompson and Phyllida Law can't be beat. I think Samantha Morton is a better Miss Smith than Toni Collette (although Collette is a wonderful actor) but no one - and I mean no one - is a better Mrs Elton than Juliet Stevenson. She is so wonderfully nasty. Much as I like Mark Strong, Jeremy Northam's Knightley is a no-brainer....but the real surprise is how much I prefer Paltrow to Beckinsale. Don't get me wrong...I think Beckinsale is very good (loved her in Cold Comfort Farm, especially)...but Paltrow is luminescent as Emma - exactly how I pictured her when reading the novel (OK, I get her complexion is wrong but you know what I mean). I also think the script was tightly written, with every word, every scene contributing to forwarding the plot. As I said at the beginning, I'm really surprised. I assumed I'd always prefer the "Brit" version but Hollywood - and most especially Paltrow - nailed it.

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I'm rather a "six of one, half-a-dozen of another" kind of guy. Though overall I prefer the casting in the movie adaptation, it feels a bit too "sitcom" at times, and I find Paltrow's "Emma" a little too glib and socially false for my taste.

I'm strongly on the side of the 2009 adaptation - even though that means I don't get to theatrically sigh in romantic anguish every time I see Olivia Williams on the screen (1996 Jane Fairfax) :).

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Oh my, I totally disagree with you! I think this version is so much better than the one with Paltrow! She did not convince me at all! When Knightly lectures her after she had been unkind to Miss Bates... I could not believe her bad conscience! I expected her to turn around and shout at him, not to cry. This Knightly was also a much better choice. He's handsome, but not at first sight. His shouting at her made his character much more believable. The Northam-guy does not seem to mean what he says. I also thought there was no chemistry between Paltrow and McGregor. They hardly spoke to each other in that version of the book, how could anybody think them attached to each other? It was much better in the TV version. The screenplay was also great and I dare say ;))) one could follow this movie without having read the book beforehand without wondering what is going on.
The Dad is a little retarded in both versions, by the way.

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Oh, and I have to add: This Northam-guy was so much handsomer than all the other guys (Mr. Elton especially) in the Paltrow-version, that there is no doubt from the beginning on that he will end up with Emma. Marc Strong is handsome in a different way, so this keeps a little suspense (without having read the book, at least).

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Hi Delta,

haha...everyone loves this version...that's quite funny!
Interesting to see different opinions.
I don't know...Paltrow played it a little btchy...but I found that scene where Mr Knightly scolds her to be very well played <i>(for reference I simply detest gwyneth paltrow in every single thing she's ever been in except for this movie)</i>
I actually found Knightly in the BBC version to be o.k. looking...only I thought he completely misinterpreted his part and came off super aggressive and a little nuts. They also should have done something with his hair because it was really disturbing. I actually don't find Jeremy Northam that good looking, he's quite effeminate to me?

I don't think any version has quite cracked the whole Frank Churchill casting.

:)

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Why on EARTH would she turn around and shout at him? This is Regency England, NOT 2009, and Emma really did feel guilty about it anyway (if you read the book, you'd know that) - so besides the fact that she'd been brought up to behave respectably (shouting at gentlemen is not a respectable thing to do, if you weren't aware), Emma feels so badly anyway and respects Mr. Knightley's opinion so highly that she is far more likely to cry after his disapproval than to shout at him. Also are you saying that a man has to shout to be believable? Personally I felt that, looks aside - and his hair DID distract me a little - Strong was totally miscast for the role of Mr. Knightley. Shouting is not necessary to put a point across strongly and I felt that Northam's quieter gravity was much more effective in doing so. Mr. Knightley is not someone who loses his control as easily and often as Strong seemed to do. As for Paltrow and McGregor - well McGregor was perhaps not the best casting but as for people thinking them attached, society was so restricted in Highbury that Frank merely being Emma's age was enough to make people think it likely, whether their "chemistry" was red-hot or not. The fact that Frank paid more respects to Emma than were necessary was more than enough to make people think that they were, indeed, a possible couple. Also anyone with sense could follow Paltrow's Emma easily without needing to read the book beforehand. I did, at 11, when I first watched it, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Emma's father is not retarded, by the way, merely a valetudinarian, or hypochondriac, if you are not familiar with the former term.

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EDIT 19 Oct. 2013 to repair broken links.

Posted by by - caggle on Sat Apr 7 2007 02:32:47
http://imdb.com/user/ur2191488/boards/profile/
"...and the accent on the (american?) Mrs Elton! OMG...it was the worst thing ever"

I think for some bizarre reason, they DID make her an American in this version. Her accent was terrible, whatever it was meant to be. It seemed to waver between American and Irish, and did not, to me, sound even vaguely West Country, as has been suggested. Also, at dinner one night, Jane Fairfaz was talking about the necesiity for her to find a job and made some remark (can't remember it exactly) about slave labour, meaning she would be completely at someon else's beck and call. Mrs Elton was angry, and asked if that was a cut at her because of the slave trade. So, American.
Even if Lucy Robinson doesn't carry off a perfect rendering of a Bristol accent, the Bristol accent is indeed what was intended. The notion that the filmmakers intentionally portrayed Mrs. Elton as an American is amusing to me, actually.

You referred to Jane Fairfax's remark:

JANE:
I beg you would not, Mrs. Elton. There are places in town where enquiry would soon produce employment. Offices for the sale...not quite of human flesh -- but of human intellect."

Jane clearly feels oppressed and distressed by Mrs. Elton's officious interest, and sadly stoical about her fate. [...]

MRS. ELTON:
Oh! My dear! You quite shock me, if you mean a fling at the slave-trade!

JANE:
No, no. The governess-trade was all I had in view. Different as the guilt of those who carry it on -- but as to the greater misery of the victims, I am not sure where it lies.

(quoted from Andrew Davies' screenplay of Jane Austen's Emma, as printed in the book: The Making of Jane Austen's Emma, by Sue Birtwistle and Susie Conklin, Penguin Books, p. 122)
Davies took this scene directly from the text of Austen's novel:
"Excuse me, ma'am, but this is by no means my intention; I make no inquiry myself, and should be sorry to have any made by my friends. When I am quite determined as to the time, I am not at all afraid of being long unemployed. There are places in town, offices, where inquiry would soon produce something -- offices for the sale, not quite of human flesh, but of human intellect."

"Oh! my dear, human flesh! You quite shock me; if you mean a fling at the slave-trade, I assure you Mr. Suckling was always rather a friend to the abolition."

"I did not mean, I was not thinking of the slave-trade," replied Jane; "governess-trade, I assure you, was all that I had in view; widely different certainly, as to the guilt of those who carry it on; but as to the greater misery of the victims, I do not know where it lies. But I only mean to say that there are advertising offices, and that by applying to them I should have no doubt of very soon meeting with something that would do" [emphasis mine] (ch. 35).
http://www.readprint.com/chapter-290/Jane-Austen
Not only does the word slave-trade appear in Austen's text, but many literary scholars believe that she intended the character of Mrs. Elton to be associated with the slave trade through the allusions to the English slave trade embedded in the text.

Mrs. Elton's maiden name is Augusta Hawkins; she comes from Bristol, but she meets Mr. Elton in Bath. Her sister's husband, Mr. Suckling, owns an estate called Maple Grove. Prior to her marriage to Mr. Elton, Augusta spends a great deal of time at Maple Grove with her sister and brother-in-law.

According to English history, a man named John Hawkins was a famous 17th century slave trader. He is widely regarded as having started the slave trade in England. (The following link is to a Microsoft Word doc, hosted at BristolReads.com)
http://tinyurl.com/lw8mn2o

Bristol was a very famous port connected to the slave trade in England.
http://discoveringbristol.org.uk/slavery/

There was a real family of Eltons in Bristol who were well known slave-traders. Sir Abraham Elton, Whig MP in 1722, invested in slaving voyages. The Elton family owned a brass works that earned an excellent income selling goods to slaving ships -- brassware was one of the main trade goods carried by slaving ships to exchange for slaves in Africa. The Elton's traded from Bristol, where they lived in abundant style until they eventually built a new home in Bath.
http://discoveringbristol.org.uk/slavery/routes/america-to-bristol/pro fits/estates-10-miles-bristol/

Then there are connections between Maple and Slavery:
English abolitionists like Levi Coffin created "Free Labor Stores" for people who wished to boycott products made from slave labor. These stores stocked only items made by free labor, substituting maple syrup or maple sugar for cane sugar, and cotton produced by free people.
http://www.slaveryinamerica.org/history/hs_lp_indigo.htm

Mr. Suckling's association with maple trees (trees that are capable of producing sugar) suggests that Mr. Suckling's "seat" has an association with making money from sugar (which was "code" for having made money through the slave trade, since slave labor was used to make sugar on plantations).

Also: "Miss Hawkins was the youngest of two daughters of a Bristol - merchant, of course, he must be called" (ch. 22). The narrator's little hesitation is to underscore the hint that Miss Hawkins' father was a slave merchant. (Thanks to queenofthestars-1.)

Here is a link that outlines a lot of allusions to slavery in the subtext of Jane Austen's Emma:
http://www.dickens-theme.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/slaverysubtext.html
---------------------------------------------
I guess I don't understand why the reference to slavery would somehow be code in this film for American? It's not as though the US is the only country in the world to have slavery in its history.

Perhaps I have misunderstood your meaning, if so, I do apologize.

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I prefer this version so much more to the film. Although Mark Strong isn't attractive like Jeremy Norton he his more like what I expected from reading the book, beacuse in the film version he his to much of a clean cut gentlemen. I always thought that Knightly had a bit of roughness to him. I think that Mark Strong becomes quite sexy when he gets angry with emma, it's passionate(bear in mind that I am in my twenties, and am able to find an attractivness to his performance)

If you read the book Emma, is kind of a Bitch, but likeable. Which I felt when I saw Kate play the role (similar to the way cher was played in clueless) So I think Kate did a pretty good job

And even though for many years, I was madly in love with Ewan Mcgregor I still could admit he really wasn't good in this role.

What bugs me about both of these adaptions is harriet. I like Samantha Morton and Toni colette in other roles, but I really felt that neither was right for this part.

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I like both adaptations, but the one thing that really bothered me about the Gwyneth Paltrow version was that the Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax storyline was butchered, which is a part that I really enjoy in the novel as it creates the detective/mystery element of the story (also loads of amusing bitchy moments from Frank and Emma and the tensions between him and Jane). that did disappoint me and I was pleased that this version didn't butcher it.

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Actually, a very good friend of mine attended question-and-answer sessions at which this project and others were discussed with people who had worked on the production.

As for the date by which Britain had abolished the trading of slaves, I am well aware of it. But it does not preclude the slave-trade from remaining a factor that still weighed heavily (only 7 years later) on the consciousness of people from a place with as deep a histroy in slave-trading as Bristol.

It seems that it was still on Austen's consciousness enough in 1815 as she wrote the novel, and infused it with all those allusions to the slave-trade in Bristol.

And this is from the stage directions for Mrs. Elton in the scene at Hartfield, when Emma and Harriet have tea with the newlywed Eltons:

68 INTERIOR. HARTFIELD. DRAWING-ROOM. day

Mrs. Elton is talking to, or at, Emma, who listens politely. [In the book Harriet isn't there, but I'd like to have her here to listen.]

Mr. Elton is at the other side of the room, ostensibly talking to Mr. Woodhouse, but sending many proud and loving gazes across at Mrs. Elton. She is a handsome woman, with strong traces of a Bristol accent
[emphasis mine] , and a very good opinion of herself.

(From Andrew Davies' script, as cited in The Making of Jane Austen's Emma, by Sue Birtwistle and Susie Conklin, Penguin Books, p. 118)

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[deleted]

Well, I've never claimed Robinson performed a good Bristol accent, which you will see, if you reread my first reply to you in this thread. I've merely pointed out that a Bristol accent is what was intended, rather than an American one.

Blame the dialect coach, Joan Washington, who has been the dialect coach for more than 61 productions.
http://imdb.com/name/nm0913470/

All it shows is that the production did a poor job

Not really. It does, however, disprove the assertions that the filmmakers intentionally portrayed Mrs. Elton as an American.

Cheers! :-)

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[deleted]

@ Randommovies2002: Really interesting and informative post - thanks!

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You're welcome! Glad people are still gleaning helpful info. from these older threads.
(Sorry to find that someone has deleted all of her posts from this discussion.)

If you're interested in exploring this topic further, you might look up the book Jane Austen in the Context the Abolition by Gabrielle White.

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Also: "Miss Hawkins was the youngest of two daughters of a Bristol - merchant, of course, he must be called;" (Ch 22)

The inference here to be made is that her father was in fact a slave-merchant.

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Thanks! You're right, I should have included that quotation in my earlier post. I think I'll add it in, along with a link to a site that delves into the slavery allusions more deeply than I did above.

Thanks again.

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In the book, there was a sixteen year age difference between Knightly and Emma, a difference not evident in the movie version. BUT I agree with a reply here that refers to Knightly's anger issues. I believe the actor thought he was playing Heathcliff and stumbled into the wrong film. With that age difference, he would have had the perspective to be more understanding of Emma's youth and not treat her interventions as reason to stop taking his medication.

"Miss Smith" really grated on my nerves also. What a whimp! Talk about mouths giving you the willies! She was all mouth and whining. Colette did a much better job.

I couldn't tell much difference in the two Frank Churchills or Jane Fairfaxes. They were all good.

While I think this movie the more true to Austen's book, I by and large prefer the movie cast.

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Oh my, you made me literally laugh out loud. I totally agree with you about Mr. Knightley, and Miss Smith.

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"Also, there was no chemistry between Emma and Knightly...."

I hear comments like this all the time. Some even said there was no chemistry between Bogart and Bergman in Casablanca. I think it's just something cool to say. What does it mean? Of course there wasn't supposed to be chemistry between them up til the end, when I thought there was plenty. Kind of like a build up. The story is supposed to keep one guessing about who Emma will end up with. Of course most people already know the ending, but consider if you didn't. You'd want there to be an uncertainty about their relationship.


"Also,since when was John Knightly a horrible, dull complainer?"

I thought Guy Henry as John Knightly added a lot. I always laugh at his sarcastic complaining wit. As in, "Well get in man and the less said the better." after Mr Elton went on and on about how privileged he was etc etc while standing with the coach door open and snow blowing in.

"Did anyone else get creeped out when Knightly is about the kiss her and he starts talking about how he held her when he was 3 weeks old."

I didn't. She was then 21 and well of age to get married. Everyone is a baby at one time, what's creepy? Mr Knightly was only 16 at the time, not really a grown man at all.
my god its full of stars

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"I thought Guy Henry as John Knightly added a lot. I always laugh at his sarcastic complaining wit. As in, "Well get in man and the less said the better." after Mr Elton went on and on about how privileged he was etc etc while standing with the coach door open and snow blowing in."

*lol* I was watching this for the first time yesterday and was shouting at the screen for him to shut up and get in already, before John Knightley opened his mouth. Then I laughed even more, because he did of course say it much more elegantly.
--
"Nobody ever said the IMDB was polite company." MichaelD on the Luther (2003) board.

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_________________________________________________________________________________

Beckinsale is o.k. as Emma and Jane Fairfax is played well,but Mr Knightly comes off as a bit psychopathic with a bad hair sitiation who needs some anger management courses (he always seems to be yelling)...
_______________________________________________________________________________

Thank you! I'm so glad that someone else sees this version of Knightly as a self-righteous, unpleasant bully completely devoid of humor or sex appeal. I can see her having an affair a la Anna Karenina...

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"Thank you! I'm so glad that someone else sees this version of Knightly as a self-righteous, unpleasant bully completely devoid of humor or sex appeal."

Thank you, I've felt that way vaguely about Strong's Knightley but wasn't sure exactly why I disliked him so much. It's because he's exactly the way you described - and intolerant, too.

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I agree for the most part. Of the three versions of Emma that I have seen, this was by far my least favorite. This was the first vesion of Emma that I ever saw. My one huge complaint is that it jumps to quickly without exlaining 'things'. And I don't think length is an adequate argument. The Paltrow movie was no longer then this one, and IMO did a much better job portraying happenings in the book. On watching this, I had read the book but my sister who watched it with me never had. My sister got a bit confused at parts because they would jump from one thing to another so quickly without adequate lead-up. For example, there was no lead up to the governess getting married. In both other versions, there is a good lead-up that explains exactly who she is. My sister was like, 'Who is this lady?' And they left out some key scenes in the whole Elton fiasco. For a person who had never read the book, it really DID look like Elton was 'into' Harriet. The only time we really saw him with Harriet was during the painting and he keeps gushing on and on about her person. Readers of the book know he is just trying to flatter Emma but I don't think that was really evident in this version. They left out some key scenes that clues the reader into realizing that Elton likes Emma and not Harriet...the scene with the riddle which he specifically hands to Emma, his attempts at trying to talk Emma out of visiting a sick Harriet. These scenes showed readers and viewers of the other adaptations that Elton was attempting to woo Emma not Harriet. I think they totally missed that mark by disregarding them in this version. The only part that could cause one to wonder was the scene where Knightley said that Elton would be practical in who he married and Harriet wasn't the practical choice. In the carriage, when Elton proposes to Emma, my sister was like 'WHAT!' I agree with her. I knew what was happening but they didn't explain it well. One should NOT have to read the book beforehand to understand what was going on. When we watched the Paltrow version together, my sister said it was evident there that Elton was after Emma and not Harriet and Emma was just being foolishly blind...not so for this version. And Elton's intentions are also clear in the more recent mini (forgot the year).

I also did not much care for this version of Knightley either. I thought he yelled too much which was not the impression I got of Knightley from the book. Jeremy Northram was my favorite Knightley with Jonny Lee Miller doing a surprisingly good job in the newer mini. I did not like the interpretation of Knightley in the 96 BBC version. And someone mentioned that people were prejudiced to the version they saw first. I saw the 96 BBC version first and it's my least favorite of the three so that argument totally flops. And someone else mentioned that some people prefer Jeremy Northram as Knightley because he is better looking than the Knightley from the 96 BBC version. I disagree here too. Jeremy Northam's looks don't really appeal to me. He's okay looking but that's about it. The Knightley in the 96 version was about the same. He had an okay face but awful hair. The most handsome Knightley, IMO, was Jonny Lee Miller but that doesn't make him my favorite either. Jeremy Northam is still my favorite Knightley. I loved the understated reserve that he played Knightley with. His speeches to Emma made much more of an impact without resorting to yelling. I loved his 'Badly done' speech to Emma after she insulted Ms. Bates. No yelling needed.

As far as Emma goes, I also did not really care for the Emma for the 96 BBC version. I thought her portrayal left alot to be desired, and I was totally underwhelmed by her. I was not exactly knocked over by Platrow's Emma but I thought she did a better job then the 96 BBC version. The best Emma is from the newer mini. I think she pretty much nailed the character.

About Frank Churchill, I didn't really care for either of the Frank's in the 96 BBC version or the Paltrow version. I think the best Frank so far has been the newer mini.

I also did not care for either of Harriets. The girl who played Harriet in the 96 BBC version did nothing for me and Toni Collette was sadly miscast. I liked the Harriet in the newer mini though.

I did not care for the portrayal of the father in the 96 BBC version. He was okay in the Paltrow version. Loved him in the newer mini.

Jane Fairfax was okay in the 96 BBC version though my favorite portrayal of Jane was the Platrow version. I didn't hugely care for the Jane in the newer mini. She seemed too giggly for me.

Ms. Bates was decent in this version, slightly over-the-top ridiculous in the Paltrow version, and spot-on in the newer mini.

My favorite Mrs. Elton was the Platrow version. I think she reall brought out the comedy aspect of her character. Emma was supposed to be Austen's romantic comedy. The newer mini was my second favorite Mrs. Elton, and this version was my least favorite.

That's all the characters I can think of right off the top of my head. So as it goes, I found the majority of the portrayals in this 96 BBC version to not be to my liking. None of the characters in this adaptation rank as my favorite portrayals of the three adaptations that I have seen. Most of my favorites come from the newer mini with a few coming from the Paltrow version. But most telling of the 96 BBC version is that I did not really care much for the performances of the two main characters...Emma and Knightley. This is by far my least favorite of the three with the newer mini ranking as my favorite.

Also, am I the only one who found the little daydreams that Emma had in the 96 BBC version to be highly irritating? I did not like them at all. They should not have to use 'daydreams' in order to tell us what is going on. We should be able to decipher that from the actions of the characters. Neither of the other two versions had to resort to daydreams to tell parts of the story. I was able to follow the story fine from the dialogue and actions that were written for the characters.

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FWIW, the Paltrow version is 14 minutes longer than the 1996 TV version, which wasn't done by BBC, btw.

For a person who had never read the book, it really DID look like Elton was 'into' Harriet. The only time we really saw him with Harriet was during the painting and he keeps gushing on and on about her person. Readers of the book know he is just trying to flatter Emma but I don't think that was really evident in this version.

This version wanted viewers to be surprised, as Emma is, when Elton proposes.

I think readers are not supposed to pick up on those clues the first time they read the book. I didn't, and I know a lot of other astute readers of classic lit. who didn't either. Of course, upon subsequent readings we all see the clues and wonder how we (and Emma) could have missed them. But that's the wonderful subtlety of Austen's writing, and imo it was her intent that readers should miss the clues because we are supposed to be caught up in Emma's POV about everything until the Christmas eve party.


One should NOT have to read the book beforehand to understand what was going on. When we watched the Paltrow version together, my sister said it was evident there that Elton was after Emma and not Harriet and Emma was just being foolishly blind...not so for this version.

Imo, one of the faults of the Paltrow version is that it gives too much away, thus spoiling surprises for the viewer.


And Elton's intentions are also clear in the more recent mini (forgot the year).

I disagree. I think Mr. Elton's intentions are not obvious in the 2009 version with Romola Garai.

The best Emma is from the newer mini. I think she pretty much nailed the character.

Except for the un-ladylike, over-exagerated facial expressions, constant hand-waving, ott body movements, throwing herself on the bed like a drama queen, and yelling across the Crown Inn to Mr. Weston that she is ready to dance.

IMO, there hasn't yet been an Emma portrayal that I'm satisfied with. I'm not looking for perfection, but none of the portrayals so far have done it for me.

About Frank Churchill, I didn't really care for either of the Frank's in the 96 BBC version or the Paltrow version. I think the best Frank so far has been the newer mini.

I think the portrayal of FC is one of the things most JA fans have been disappointed about with the new version. He is so far from the "Frenchified Englishman" Mr. Knightley complains about in the novel. Most Janeites hate McGregor's portrayal and think he was seriously miscast in the role. I happen to enjoy Raymond Coulthard, but I know a lot of people have trouble with his smile. (I don't get it, but whatever. ) I think Coulthard "gets" Frank and does the Frenchified Englishman very well. But I think the best Frank is from the 1972 BBC mini.

Polly Walker is barely on screen in the Paltrow version. We never get a chance to get a sense of her as Jane. I think most Janeites, including those who really hate the Beckinsale version, feel that Olivia William's portrayal of Jane Fairfax is the best. And most also enjoyed her portrayal of Jane Austen in Miss Austen Regrets.

Emma was supposed to be Austen's romantic comedy.

Not sure what you mean here. For example, I find Emma much more "serious" than P&P.

As for the daydreams in this version, it's not so different than using narration and monologue, which were both used in the 2009 Garai version. That version is four hours in length, but still requires monologue in order to portray important details that appear in the novel as stream of consciousness.

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As for the daydreams in this version, it's not so different than using narration and monologue, which were both used in the 2009 Garai version. That version is four hours in length, but still requires monologue in order to portray important details that appear in the novel as stream of consciousness.

JA uses monologues in her books but I never once saw her use a dream sequence for Emma. I have no problem with the monologues. They fit with the JA's novels...not so for the silly and irritating dream sequences.

And maybe I'm the only one who picked up on Elton's intentions on my first reading of the book. I thought it was fairly evident that he was after Emma and not Harriet, but then I have always tended to pick up on things other people missed *shrug*

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Thanks for replying.

While JA didn't use daydream sequences in Emma, I've wondered if this excerpt is where Andrew Davies got the idea to create them in his script for the Beckinsale Emma:

[Emma remarks to Harriet, indicating the parsonage]

"There it is. There go you and your riddle-book one of these days."

Harriet's [remark] was --

"Oh! what a sweet house! How very beautiful! There are the yellow curtains that Miss Nash admires so much."

"I do not often walk this way now," said Emma, as they proceeded, "but then there will be an inducement, and I shall gradually get intimately acquainted with all the hedges, gates, pools, and pollards of this part of Highbury" (ch. 10).

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