Sunday, February 7, 2010

Period Dramas

Period Dramas Part V: Masterpiece Classic
2010 Season
Part II


This new production of Emma stars Romola Garai as the heroine Jane Austen declared "no one but myself would much like," Michael Gambon (Harry Potter, Cranford) as Mr. Woodhouse, and Jonny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightly. I enjoyed the first part of Emma which seemed to follow the book's plot, if not the dialogue of Austen's novel. The story begins with flashbacks to Emma's early years, which I felt were confusing and slow and should have been worked into the dialogue and plot bur once the story got going, I was hooked.

The triangle between Emma, Harriet and Mr. Elton is nicely done, though I don't think Mr. Elton is quite as pompous as he is in the novel and is more handsome than I imagined him. I giggled a bit with Emma and Harriet as they exchanged girlish gossip and hopes and dreams, just as modern teenagers do.

In Part II comes the wonderful country ball scene, in which snobbishness is on full display and true gentlemanly behavior wins out. I loved the dancing scenes, having experienced Regency dancing. When Emma dances with Mr. Knightley, their feelings for each other become obvious to the viewer as they dance in their own little world, oblivious to everyone around them. It's a beautiful and well-done scene.

Part III felt rather rushed. There are more misunderstandings and more scolding from Mr. Knightley.
This time though, Emma takes his words to heart and endeavors to correct her behavior herself before finally examining her own heart. Though I enjoyed seeing another Austen adaption, this one fell sort of short of my expectations. The dialogue is rather modern and the story seems rushed. The ending wasn't too over-the-top and was actually very sweet.

I really liked Romola Garai's Emma. Some of the reviews have criticized her exaggerated facial expressions, but I thought they were cute and made her seem young and giddy. This Emma is immature and silly but very charming. Emma comes across as naive and very much a sheltered young woman who has never known any hardships and spends her time dreaming up ways to make other people as happy as she believes herself to be. Emma's friend Harriet is sweetly innocent and likable. She's not as quick thinking as Emma but she's not especially dull-witted either. She's an average, normal girl and most people accept her and like her for who she is.

I also really liked Mr. Knigtley, who is quite good looking in this version. Really good looking! Who knew?

I always pictured him as old and dull, so I'm not sure Jonny Lee Miller is the right choice to play Mr. Knightley, but he sure is nice to look at.

Jane Fairfax was too meek and mild. She didn't look like the accomplished young woman she was supposed to be.
Frank Churchill is handsome and flirtatious but a total cad. I couldn't see him attracted to this Jane.

Mr. Woodhouse isn't in this version very much so his nervousness and fretfulness doesn't really come through very strongly.

The Eltons were not vulgar enough and Mrs. E. not nearly obnoxious as she is in the book.
Miss Bates is talkative but not as garrulous as she should be. I like Miss Bates from the earlier version of Emma starring Kate Beckinsale.

The highlight of this production is the scenery and costumes.
The scenery in this production will take your breath away! From country estates, beautiful vistas and colorful drawing rooms, this production has it all. The costumes are also to-die-for! The characters look like they stepped right out of the fashion plates of the day. If you love historic costuming of this period, then you need to see this production!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave comments and or suggestions for QNPoohBear, the modern bluestocking.