Jane Austen's stories have always been a rich source of material for both film makers and those who produce period drama for television and these productions have varied, of course in quality. So what makes one production of the same story better than another? We all have our own opinions on this but I ask that firstly, the story 'sticks to' the original book and that secondly, the characters are well cast and believable - that they reproduce the people Jane Austen invented. I could talk about many other things that make a production exceptional - details of the period, ambiance and so on but those first two are the most important to me.
The most successful production of Emma - with no exception - is the one starring Kate Beckinsale. She portrays Jane's Emma to perfection; in fact she IS Emma! Not a giggly airhead (as depicted on a more recent television serial) but a privileged young woman who is kind-hearted and caring but impetuous and rather too self-confident. Space cannot allow me to praise each actor, separately here because everyone's performance was so good but it would be wrong to not mention Mark Strong as a totally believable Mr Knightly and Samantha Morton as the pretty and indecisive Harriet. Of course, it would be impossible to avoid mentioning such a gifted actress as Prunella Scales (whatever part she undertakes); what a wonderful performance as the garrulous Miss Bates!
Disregard all other productions of Emma. Let Kate Beckinsale transport you to Jane Austen's world!