Monday, 26 October 2009
Emma is my favourite Jane Austen novel by far. I love everything about it, I love the language, I love the humour, the wit, the characters; I love Emma herself for all of her conceit and all of her fallibilities. I think I understand Emma, for I almost fell into the same trap myself once, believing that one understands other people and their emotions, believing that they can somehow be managed to a desired set of ends.
I enjoyed the movie version with Gwyneth Paltrow, who was quite convincing in the lead. So I was really looking forward to the new BBC four-apart adaptation by Sandy Welch, which finished last Sunday evening. Yes, it was a free adaptation and, yes, some of the nuances of Austen’s book have been lost and the characters ‘liberalised’ in point of deportment and expression but I really loved it, loved the whole thing, not in the least put off by the curmudgeonly review in The Daily Telegraph. The soufflé rose and rose!
The cast were super. I particularly liked Michael Gambon as the fussy and hypochondriac Mr Woodhouse, and Jonny Lee Miller was a lovely and sexy-and scolding!-Mr Knightly, but Romola Gari was Emma, she was Emma as I see her; impish, mischievous, expressive, thoughtful, self-assured and scheming. In her face, her eyes alone she conveyed so much liveliness; she deserves recognition for that if nothing besides. I suppose the purist will be horrified, perhaps preferring a ‘stiffer’, less modern version, but not I. Great books and great characters always adjust to the times. I feel sure Jane would have loved this Emma for a modern age.
The production values, the period settings and the costumes were all wonderful; the whole thing was simply splendid. There will be such a gap in my Sunday evenings now. What shall I do? Yes, I know; I’ll read Emma yet again. On second thoughts, I might just go look for a Harriet Smith. :-))