Saturday, May 28, 2011

'Emma' Open Thread

     What did you think?


  1. That Raymond Coulthard was an exceedingly handsome and charming rascal as Frank Churchill.

  2. One thing I enjoyed about this version is that there is no self-assured air of superiority on the part of Mr. Knightly. He is interested, certainly, and has deep affection and concern for Emma's family, and his care for Emma drives him to call her on behaviors that are at times not her best, and yet he is ready to admit his own mis-judgments, is aware of his own faults, and is interested in maintaining his friendship with Emma and her family, despite whatever differences or fall outs that may occur.

    I am certain it had to be very hard for him to watch Frank Churchill appear from nowhere and charm his young friend, while he being wiser to the ways of the world had considerably more caution in his appreciation of Mr. Churchill. Ultimately, the unfolding of events placed Mr. Knightly into a position where he was compelled to confess to Emma.... oh, wait a minute! We are getting ahead of ourselves here.

    Okay, get the popcorn, find a big comfortable chair and pull up a warm blanket. This is gonna be fun!

  3. Ooo! Olivia Williams!

    Carry on.

  4. We're watching this tonight (third time round, I think). Couldn't be better timed, actually, as I'm going to start work at the Jane Austen Centre here in Bath on Monday. I'll be managing the online shop, so get your orders in!
    Sorry I'm anonymous, but Blogger won't let me sign in. I think it's a wider problem they're working on...
    Soon as it's resolved I'll get back on Emma, and the missus will drop into the Dirty Dancing thread too!
    Best, Matthew

  5. I saw this again last night, and was very glad to see it. The characters are all familiar friends at this point. I must say, I enjoyed the character of John Knightly, his running commentary, the manner in which he enjoyed teasing his father-in-law, Mr. Woodhouse. That scene where they are gathered together and Mr. Woodhouse is emphatically stating that they simply must pay a visit to Mr. Weston and his new bride, and the glances of bemusement and knowing appreciation and warmth from both Emma and Mr. Knightly as they looked on just struck me as so right for a family gathering. I have seen and done the same many a time. And Mrs. Elton, so out of sorts when Frank Churchill proclaims that Miss Woodhouse requires a bit of amusement, and she is so wooden and dense in her appraisal of the jokingly poetic nature of what Mr. Churchill was saying, it really was too much. Never was a character more lacking in self-awareness. And of course the score was lovely, and many of the scenes very beautifully photographed... really just a delightful show.

  6. This is such a lovely movie -- I watched it in chunks the first time, but then watched it all through with my mom and sister and enjoyed it even more. I don't think any feature-length film can capture everything in Emma, but this version seemed to me to feel more like the novel (and was closer to it in story, as I recall) than the Gwyneth Paltrow Emma (also a lot of fun, but not as "true.")

    I had not thought I'd like Kate Beckinsale as Emma, but I did, and I especially enjoyed her depiction of the ways in which Emma brings on herself the situations that require her to grow up rather quickly, and then does indeed mature into the more sensitive, more sensible, and less prideful young woman that her dearest friends hoped the indulged and headstrong girl would become.

    I thought they did a wonderful job of showing how Frank Churchill's teasing drew out the worst in Emma -- gossiping, speculating, encouraging him in his tormenting of Jane Fairfax -- until the over-casual familiarity between them led to the unintended insult to poor Miss Bates. (Oh, my, she was a great Miss Bates!)

    And the scenes with Emma and Mr. Woodhouse were so nicely done -- a bit of levity that appears there never outweighs the real affection and sweet regard she has for her father. (I loved that his fault with her match-making was not that she ran the risk of pressing unwise matches or botching favorable alliances already begun, but that her success disrupted his circle of acquaintances, that it made people "go away.")

    This Mr. Knightly was more irritable than I remember, but he was definitely attractive enough in appearance, personality and character to be clearly meant for our improving heroine, in spite of Jane Fairfax's beauty and many excellent qualities. (He might have been quite content with a Jane Fairfax, but he needed an Emma Woodhouse's spirit and humor to be truly happy.)

    Harriet Smith was adorable, a sweet deferential child, easily swayed, but truer to her own heart than her adored mentor could have expected. So many cute moments with Miss Smith, like that scene when, after Emma protests that she won't advise her, she becomes "almost certain" what she's decided to do about Robert Martin's proposal...

    Mr. Elton and his outraged pride were perfect ("Miss Smith?!"), and the subsequent Mrs. Elton was magnificent in her provincial arrogance and self-satisfaction (and Positive Loathing of "puppies")!

    Visually it is such a beautiful movie; the homes, the scenery, the costumes -- and those evenings lit by candlelight, so gorgeous. And the music was lovely, the score overall, and the singing and piano music among dinner-party friends, but I particularly enjoyed the dance music at the ball. (Hey -- did I see James Galway among the musicians at the ball?)

    Jim has it absolutely:

    ... really just a delightful show.

  7. It always adds a great deal to my understanding and enjoyment of the show to be able to hear Cathy's perspective. In the exchange of ideas I am quite confident I have the better bargain.

    Emma is a story about a young woman growing up, sure, and yet I do tend to gravitate toward considering the story from the various male characters. I mentioned earlier how I enjoyed the character John Knightly, Mr. Knightly's younger brother. He was a peripheral character, but well done, whether encouraging the children to run to their uncle, or disavowing Emma's contention that he surely thought the advantage from the marriage was all to her benefit, with his gentle "I? Not at all. Not at all"

    However it was Mark Strong's Mr. Knightly that I enjoyed the most in this production. From the strong, confident strides he took as he entered the Woodhouse home late on that first night, his speaking to the servants by name and asking after the health of their families, he clearly was a man that I could warm to right at the outset. I never found his tone to be so disagreeable that it put me ill at ease. He was clear about what he was thinking, and had the ability to express himself without equivocation. I found his directness, even in being forceful, to be clear and without malice. But I think this may be a gene thing, and so it's probably quite good that we have a different view in how we see this. Most reassuring.

    My favorite was when the Weston's had told Emma of Frank Churchill's deception, and he had rode all the way back from London through wind and rain, just to be there to comfort her. He arrives and finds that she does not feel wounded by Mr. Churchill, and is willing to be gracious to him. Mr. Knightly, there to comfort her, reflects quietly on what he has heard and considers its meaning, and the whole strikes him as so incredibly unjust, that this young, handsome, frivolous, silly man could play at caring for Emma, all in deception, deceiving the woman he cherishes, and not be in the least bit censored over it, whereas he has had to keep his feelings for Emma hidden, and to what end? He just can't stand it any longer, and he tears off on what a fortunate man Mr. Churchill is, and as he is asked in what respect he admires him, he is left so far out that he can no longer return to secrecy. And more astonishing than all else he discovered on this astonishing day is that Emma does consent... she does love him. Amazing!

    Mr. Knightly, as played here, was a strong male character, unabashedly so. Of all of Jane Austin's male characters, I find him the most easily understood and relatable.

    And did you not love Mr. Elton's proposal in the carriage ride home from the Weston's. "Allow me to interpret this silence." It was grand.

  8. Hey! I may be crazy, given the weather lately, but I'm in the mood for something steamy. Would you be up for To Have and Have Not?

  9. Oh yes, I would love for us to see "To Have And Have Not".

    Couple of days!

    : )

  10. At last a kindly reader has supplied me with the means to stay signed in long enough to leave a comment (with typical Blogger logic, it's to uncheck the box that says 'keep me signed in' - of course it is!)
    So anyway, I've come too late to this, but I saw it for the second time recently and enjoyed it very much. I will say, however, that I do slightly prefer the Gwyneth Paltrow version, partly because of the achingly beautiful photography of late-afternoon Summers, and partly because I find a few of the characters - most notably Knightley and Harriet - miscast in this one. On itsown terms it's a very nice adaptation, but I think it lacks the efferversence of the other version. Kate was a lovely Emma, but Gwyneth, to my surprise, seemed to me a magnificent one.

    Incidentally - and I say this in the hope of making you jealous - it was filmed at Lacock, a short distance from where I now live. Loads of period films and tv are shot there because it needs virtually nothing doing to it to stop it looking modern. The place really is frozen in time.
    More on it here:

    Now I'm off to visit Bogie and Bacall...