Lazy Sunday: Emma

By Kay Gardiner
April 18, 2021

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  • I love all of the Emma interpretations. Each film maker brought their interpretation so each one can be appreciated for his/her artistic vision. That said, this one has crept up to no. 1 for me, largely due to Anya Taylor Joy’s performance. She is Emma! And to too it off, my FB Jane Austen Group’s book club is reading Emma, a chapter a day.

  • No offense, but I have to disagree with you on this one. I actually turned it off part way through, then went back, like driving past an accident, to see if it was as unwatchable for me all the way through. I though ATJ gave Emma a mean streak (rude to the servants!) that was badly out of character, Mr Knightly I found totally unappealing, and many scenes seemed as if none of the characters were even in the same room during filming. All speaking past each other.
    The costumes were great, and Miss Bates was a redeeming point. Definitely agree the Romola Garai version is the best, maybe I’ll knit to that this afternoon….

  • I still think that Gwyneth Paltrow was the best Emma, but I might suggest a weekend of Emma, with a different version every night…just for comparison purposes, of course. But I did not know about Phoebe, and that is an interiguing new find. Thank you!

  • We shall never tire of Emmas! I too love them all, this one is no exception, but I think my favorite is still Alicia Silverstone in Clueless. PUREST DELIGHT.

  • I’m with you on Romola Garai’s Emma being the best. The way she wilts when Mr. Knightly dresses her down (“Poorly done, Emma, poorly done!”) is just… perfect. And she so clearly MEANS well in her schemes, but hasn’t considered the consequences of her actions.

    That said, Miranda Hart’s Miss Bates is an absolute revelation in the ATJ version. For the first time for me, Miss Bates made sense as a full person, instead of being a chatty annoyance. I did also appreciate seeing Josh O’Connor’s Mr. Collins Realizing What He Has Done, as his new wife steamrolls over him yet again in conversation.

    (Can you tell there was an Emma-fest here about two months ago?)

    • Gah. Josh O’Connor plays Mr. Elton, not Mr. Collins. Wrong Austen clergyman!

      • Easy mistake to make! I always think Dickens borrowed her clergymen….

  • Looking forward to seeing this version of Emma; anything with Bill Nighy! Just finished reading a newer hard copy version of Emma. Is it just me, or have the publishers been tinkering with the copy? Some of the paragraphs made absolutely no sense. And don’t even get me started on the Kindle version of JA’s novels – words left out, words changed (JA would NEVER have used the word “guys” in her writings). Thank you for these Sunday blogs!!

  • Yes! To the other version, though this one was a candy colored delight, with some great costuming, plus Bill Nighy and Miranda Hart.
    And that house … which they painted for the movie, and the owners painted it back to their original colors. Sigh.

  • I prefer the Kate Beckinsale version – but would swap out Mark Strong for Jeremy Notham please-

    • I’m with you Cathy, but haven’t seen the version with Jeremy Notham soI’m good with Mark Strong.

      • Oh gosh! I’m good with Mark Strong too, because: MARK STRONG!

  • Speaking of Johnny Flynn, have you ever seen the Brit series “Detectorists?” (Johnny Flynn performs the opening theme song.) The show is pure joy and I wish they had made more seasons.

  • My one and only problem with “Emma” in general has been that Mr. Knightley was already practically an adult when he first met Emma as a little tyke. She’s of age when the action of the novel takes place, but this still seems very creepy to me. And even when they’ve decided that they’ll marry, Emma tells him she’ll always call him Mr. Knightley and never by his first name. Their whole relationship seems more like father-daughter than friend-friend, since he’s always banging on about how she needs to improve herself, which is something that her own father has failed to do. I have to assume that they’ll always sleep in separate bedrooms, too. You can argue all you like that these things weren’t weird in Austen’s time, but they still creep me out.

    The new version isn’t my favorite, but at least it makes Mr. Knightley more age-appropriate. But then it’s not authentic Austen, so I don’t know…. In any case, I agree that Bill Nighy just nailed it as the father.

    As long as it’s okay to take liberties with “Emma,” all I can say is that “Clueless” is my favorite adaptation. Of course, here’s a definite case where the hero might be marked as a sexual predator, since Cher (Emma) is only 16 years old and he’s in college. But it’s a funny movie if you can put aside your concerns about statutory rape.

    This is way too complicated.

  • I am glad to find a nest of Romola Garai/Jonny Lee Miller Emma appreciators here! It is my hands-down favorite, too, but I have previously found that to be a minority opinion in the circles I run in. When I saw that version the first time, as soon as it was over I immediately went back and watched it again, and I never do that.

    Haven’t seen the ATJ Emma yet. I am curious what I will think, but it will probably be a while before I find out. Thanks to small children, I am lucky if I manage to fall asleep halfway through a movie once every few Saturday nights! Someday, I shall “knit to this” again.