MovieChat Forums > Emma (1996) Discussion > The chicken attacks

The chicken attacks


The film begins and ends with the chickens being attacked and the cock crowing.

What was the point of these scenes?

"My will is strong but my won't is weak"

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They needed a better security system on their henhouse.

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They give Emma an excuse for inviting Mr. Knightley to live with them. Her father doesn't like change, but if protection from chicken thieves means she has to get married, then so be it.

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The chicken attacks are referred to in the novel... I love their inclusion at beginning and end of this version.
They could have two meanings- the first crudely is sexual- we see an attack on a chicken house at the start when the Westons marry and at the end when Emma and Knightley announce their marriage (so the chicken attacks symbolise the loss of the female characters virginity on their wedding nights)
Secondly and rather more interestingly it could be political. Knightley at the end gives a speech about the continuity of the social order. However this is in a time of great social unrest and poverty (after the end of the Napoleonic war) then there were fears amongst the UK upper classes that the French revolution would spread to the UK. Often in Austen adaptations the historical and political background of these novels and the reality of the lives of the vast majority of people in the UK are ignored. Knightley gives his speech saying all is ok but this is directly followed by a chicken attack indicating that this is a society where there is much unrest and poverty. So Andrew Davies is defintely cocking a snoop at the audiences cosy view of 'Austenland'

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Or they could just be chickens attacked by foxes and nothing more.

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It cannot be foxes, or any other quadruped predator, because we actually see the thieves fleeing in the opening sequence.

I think the bracketing of the film with the two henhouse raids is indicative of the crude energies of life and change, which crop up however much we try to impose order and stability, and we need to know this and allow for it in our perspective, in order to maintain equilibrium.

With the henhouse raid, the jostling carriage scene, and the Westons running off for their honeymoon, the film starts with a flurry of energy - and when the Westons go, the energy is sapped - and the quite young Emma is left among the elderly. I love that the film shows her melancholy without explicitly hammering us with it.

Oh, right. So, she secretly trained a flock of sandflies.

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It’s the same crew that attacked Harriet. No matter how much Emma and her tightly knit circle try to engineer their prim and virtuous society, there is still poverty, violence and strife all around them.

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