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*sigh* Yet another sub-par adaptation of "Emma"

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Coventina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 09:07 AM
Original message
*sigh* Yet another sub-par adaptation of "Emma"
I have give the disclaimer that "Emma" is probably my favorite novel, certainly in the top 5, so I'm going to be difficult to please. Also, there are two segments to go, so maybe it will improve.

But this Masterpiece Classic version, while the best I've seen so far, is still very irritating.

For some reason, most filmed adaptations want to turn it into a broad comedy, while the humor in the novel is very subtle. I guess subtlety is hard to do on film. Also, most of the characters in the novel have hidden agendas and maybe that's hard to do on screen as well.

Things I like about this version:

Harriet Smith is pretty, which she has to be, in order for the early plot to make any sense. (The horrible Gwenyth Paltrow version made her ugly, which makes no sense at all).
I like the way they handled Frank Churchill's and Jane Fairfax's backstories.
A real effort to handle the complex plot is being made with this one.

Things I don't like about this version:

Emma is still played as a giggly dingbat, which is all wrong. She takes herself very seriously, which is her biggest flaw.
Frank Churchill has been visiting Highbury on the sly? :wtf:
Impossible to do for any length of time. Totally unbelievable for a several reasons.
Mr. Knightley does not have the authoritative presence he has in the book, but I will say that the actor (forget his name right now) does make him quite likeable.
There's also a ton of "little" things I don't like (like having Jane Fairfax almost fall off a cliff rather than knocked out of a boat? What's the advantage of changing it?), but if I complained about every little thing I'd be here all day. The main problem is that the central character is still not the character in the book.

I just wonder why an "Emma" can't be done that's as good as the "Pride & Prejudice" that starred Colin Firth.

:rant:
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BarenakedLady Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 09:42 AM
Response to Original message
1. I watched it
I agree with your points, but I enjoyed it anyway. I love the actor playing Mr. Knightley (can't remember his name either). I'm looking forward to watching the rest.
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Coventina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 10:12 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Oh, I'm definitely going to watch the rest.
I simply can't resist! I have to see how the rest of the story is handled.

Like I said, I think it's the best version I've seen so far. In fact, I think it would be a very good one - if only "Emma" was true to character I could forgive the other flaws. I just don't understand why she's played the way she is. Is it the influence of "Clueless" & the other recent Hollywood adaptation?
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lumberingbear Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 02:05 PM
Response to Reply #1
16. Mr Knightly was played by...
Jonny Lee Miller. (Trivia: Mr Miller was Angelina Jolie's first husband. )
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BarenakedLady Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 05:58 PM
Response to Reply #16
20. ahhhh
I knew he looked familiar.
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Orsino Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 10:25 AM
Response to Original message
3. The Paltrow-Northam Emma is just about perfect...
...being inferior to the '95 P&P mostly because it is shorter. :thumbsup:
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 11:00 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. I concur
:thumbsup:
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Tuesday Afternoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 11:14 AM
Response to Reply #3
6. I agree and I did not think Harriet Smith was ugly. n/t
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 06:18 PM
Response to Reply #6
22. Damn straight!
Are we talking about the same Harriet Smith here? IMO she was lovely!

Maybe not much of a racquetball player, but even so...
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wickerwoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 06:07 PM
Response to Reply #3
21. +1
I haven't bothered with any of the versions since.

The only thing I didn't like about that one was Ewan McGregor as Frank Churchill. He's just too modern looking and seemed out of place. I guess I couldn't get Trainspotting out of my mind (and would have the same problem with Sick-Boy playing Mr. Knightley(!!!) in the new one.)

But you can't beat Juliet Stevenson's version of Mrs. Elton. Or Jeremy Northam, even though he was technically too young for the part. And I thought it worked fine with Harriet Smith being somewhat plain. The point is that Emma, in her desperation to play Cupid, is blind to all of Harriet's flaws so the addition of being not-very attractive to coming from a lower-class background doesn't make that big of a difference in the story. And it would be hard for a modern audience to pick up on the cues of Harriet's gaucheness when many of those cues are no longer damning in our more egalitarian society.
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Captain Hilts Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 11:11 AM
Response to Original message
5. I haven't read that one. I should. nt
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Coventina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 11:21 AM
Response to Reply #5
7. It's the best of the Austin novels, IMO, however
it takes several readings to fully appreciate all the subtleties she weaves into the narrative.
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Captain Hilts Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 11:28 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. Tuff talk. I liked P&P and Persuasion. I will put this one higher up on my list. nt
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Coventina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 11:41 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. I love P & P, Persuasion, and S & S. Read all of them multiple times.
Mansfield Park was okay, but I've never re-read it. I actually think the movie adaptation done awhile back was better than the novel. :yoiks:

Northanger Abbey is cute, but not of the quality level of the others.

But "Emma" is the superior of all the others. It is so richly detailed, you feel as if you live in Highbury with the other characters.

My personal take: it is an idyllic view of village life where everyone is (mostly) benevolently interested in the others. Even people who can be tiresome or needy (like Mr. Woodhouse) are treated with respect and kindness.

I'm terrified of flying, and I bring "Emma" with me on every flight I've flown as an adult. I just start at the beginning and read, and somehow it calms and reassures me. If my plane ever goes down, everyone I know will know that my battered old copy of "Emma" went with me. :-)
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Captain Hilts Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 12:03 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. Interesting! I've read P&P more than once. First for plot, 2nd+ for writing.
I tried Mansfield Park and it didn't do that much for me.

S&S is a daunting size for me right now.

I will read Emma.
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Coventina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 12:10 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. Let me know what you think! PM me if you want as you read.
As you can see, I'm really a fan & I really enjoy talking about the book!

(I'm not pressuring you to read it immediately, just if/when you do!)
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Lavender Brown Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 08:11 PM
Response to Reply #9
28. I agree about Mansfield Park-I think a lot of people feel that way
Fanny Price is not a character to fall in love with, but the 90s adaptation actually made her likeable.
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Tuesday Afternoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 12:14 PM
Response to Reply #7
12. I agree with this. It is her best work. Very Subtle.
:)
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MrsMatt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 03:02 PM
Response to Reply #7
17. it's Austen, not Austin
sorry just a little peeve of mine! carry on.

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Coventina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 09:06 AM
Response to Reply #17
31. I know! I'm so embarrassed!
:blush:

A self-professed fan. I should know better!

:spank:
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Democrats_win Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 12:58 PM
Response to Original message
13. Agree, Colin Firth's "Pride and Prejudice" was very good!
I wonder if "Pride and Prejudice"(P&P) isn't the best book ever? I was first introduced to P&P in the children's show "Wishbone" in which a dog, Wishbone, tells the story of many classic novels. Although the dog, Wishbone, is no Colin Firth, he did make a great Mr. Darcy. This simple show compelled me to watch several other versions of P&P. They are all great but the Colin Firth version is, the best.

I don't really read Jane Austen's books so I was glad when this version of "Emma" was first on PBS last year. It's a great story!

In a way, it's a case of: Is no Jane Austen better than some Jane Austen done poorly? I'd say the latter. Jane Austen is just too good.

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Coventina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 01:45 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. Ha ha! I love "Wishbone" but I never saw that ep!
Darn! That must have been a hoot & 1/2!
:D

This version of "Emma" was on last year? How did I miss that? (I don't expect you to know, just asking myself out loud).

Jane Austen is so good it is hard to ruin her stories, but I'm particularly fond of "Emma", so I'm more sensitive to poor adaptations of it. And I maintain that Paltrow's "Emma" was an abomination. Although, those who are not familiar with the novel would probably enjoy the movie.

And I just realized that I've been misspelling Austen's name throughout this thread.
:blush:
:spank:
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redwitch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 06:46 PM
Response to Reply #13
23. "What's the story Wishbone?"
Lovely show.
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Catshrink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 01:58 PM
Response to Original message
15. Have you read the annotated P&P?
I found it very interesting -- it's laid out with the novel on the left page and annotations on the right. These annotation include language usage and things like the differences in carriages. I'd read the book many times and seen every film adaptation made (I think!) and found this very helpful and added to my understanding of the novel.



http://www.amazon.com/Annotated-Pride-Prejudice-Jane-Au...

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Coventina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 09:09 AM
Response to Reply #15
32. That looks really interesting! Thanks! n/t
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Catshrink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 01:48 PM
Response to Reply #32
37. I wish they'd do more of them.
I loved it!
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tanyev Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 04:31 PM
Response to Original message
18. How about the production with Kate Beckinsale as Emma?
I don't remember many details about it, but I remember enjoying her performance.

I agree with you on the G.P. version, although I would go see Jeremy Northam in just about anything. :)
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Coventina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 09:14 AM
Response to Reply #18
33. Beckinsale's Emma is vastly superior to G.P.'s
Mostly because Beckinsale comes closer to the character of Emma as she is in the novel. Also, the actress playing Harriet could truly be considered a beautiful girl. The biggest drawback of that version is that it is still too short, IMO. (And the actor playing Mr. Knightly didn't "do it" for me). :-)

Jeremy Northam, in spite of his youth, was an EXCELLENT Mr. Knightly. Completely wasted in that movie....
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 05:53 PM
Response to Original message
19. How did you like the version with Alicia Silverstone, by the way?
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Tuesday Afternoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 12:25 AM
Response to Reply #19
29. heh
you so bad :D
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Coventina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 09:21 AM
Response to Reply #19
34. I liked it just fine. I have no quibbles with taking a broad outline
of a plot and reusing it.

After all, there are a limited amount of plotlines that exist to draw upon.

My gripe is that if you are going to call something "Emma", referring to Austen's novel, that it should make an effort to resemble the novel. No version I have seen, calling itself "Emma", does this well enough for me to call it "excellent" or even "good". This is my opinion. YMMV
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 09:47 AM
Response to Reply #34
35. Well, there's nothing wrong with your opinion, of course
Hamlet has been filmed a zillion times, and each time it's been substantially different. It's up to the individual viewer to decide whether a particular version is "excellent," or whether any of them are. If a reader still prefers the original text, then that's fine too.

No one is saying that you can't judge film adaptations of Emma as you see fit, and for that matter I'm willing to bet that you're much more knowledgeable of Austen's work than I am. But others (including me) have still found some of those film versions to be good or excellent in their own right.
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Coventina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 01:45 PM
Response to Reply #35
36. You make a good point, and it is very difficult to draw that line
Edited on Tue Jan-26-10 01:47 PM by Coventina
between literature and film. Each is its own unique medium, and can never translate perfectly from one to the other.

G.P.'s "Emma" could be considered to be a perfectly fine movie. If I had never read the novel, I probably would have enjoyed it very much. And there were elements that I did enjoy (Jeremy's Mr. Knightly stands out! :-))

My personal biggest beef, which I do recognize as personal, is that I did not feel that Paltrow's character was written nor acted true to the character in the novel. My feeling is that characterization is something that CAN successfully be translated back and forth between literature and film.

My other big problem was the portrayal of Harriet Smith, which has already been discussed. Obviously, I can see that others might perceive it differently, but I saw it as, once again, a big character deviation from the novel.

But I do recognize these as my own personal reactions brought on by my deep affection for the original novel. Honestly, I don't have a problem with people enjoying G.P.'s film. I would never argue that others shouldn't enjoy it, or Clueless, or K.B.'s version, or this current miniseries.

ETA: As a matter of fact, if people's enjoyment of the filmed versions inspire them to read the novel, then so much the better!
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 03:25 PM
Response to Reply #36
38. You have a lot to learn about starting an ugly discussion board brawl!
Shame on you for being so pleasant and personable!
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Coventina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 03:57 PM
Response to Reply #38
39. LOL! Thanks!
:pals:
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Captain Hilts Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 06:50 PM
Response to Original message
24. Skinner, we need an Austen board....
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KatyaR Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 07:54 PM
Response to Original message
25. I'm boycotting anything Jane Austin.
The last stretch of Austin on Masterpiece Classics did me in...no more.
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LisaM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 08:03 PM
Response to Original message
26. They better replay it because I forgot to watch it
I agree that the Harriet Smith in the Gwyneth Paltrow version was not very pretty, and it caused problems for me.

My very favorite Austen has to be "Persuasion", and there is a good BBC version of that from ten or twelve years ago.

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Lavender Brown Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 08:08 PM
Response to Original message
27. I haven't really liked any of the new adaptations in the past few years
I did like Kate Beckinsale's Emma for the most part. The Gwyneth Paltrow version was all wrong to me, although I liked Toni Collette (and generally love Ewan McGregor and Alan Cumming).
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-26-10 12:40 AM
Response to Reply #27
30. If you like Alan Cumming, you should watch "Son of the Mask"
That'll cure you of your fondness in a heartbeat!
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