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135 of 142 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best adaptation I've seen...
I don't normally write Amazon reviews but after watching this adaptation of Emma (and pre-ordering the DVD as soon as it appeared here) I felt compelled to encourage others to do the same. I read Emma over ten years ago, in my teens, and enjoyed the book, but since then have seen the Gwyneth Paltrow film and the Kate Beckinsale TV adaptation and had to admit, they left me...
Published on 28 Oct 2009 by Chloe

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ELEGY
I still hugely prefer the 1996 version with Gwyneth Paltrow, with its excellent casting, setting and beautiful music.

The problems with this version are:

1. As most of the negative reviews say, this adaptation of the story is horribly anachronistic. The way that the characters behave, the things they say, their body language, mannerisms and the...
Published on 5 Dec 2010 by ELEGY


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34 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BBC Produces The Best Emma Yet!, 23 Oct 2009
By 
Lizzi S (Brentwood, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Emma [DVD] (DVD)
Having read Jane Austen's novels a million times over and watched every adaptation produced, I like to think of myself as a real "adaptation critic". So it was with trepidation that I sat down to watch the BBC's Emma. Whilst initially concerned about the portrayal of Emma as being too enthusiastic, I refered back to my book and yes, Emma does giggle and she does cry and I thought well I will give the BBC artistic license to freshen it up for a younger generation. My next concern was the age gap between Mr Knightley and Emma. Previous adaptations have made 38 year old men looking postively ancient. Johnny Lee Miller is actually 37 (perfect) and Ramola Garai is a very young looking, fresh faced 27, so can easily pass for 20. Pushing those two concerns aside, everything else about this adaptation is perfect. I love all the portrayals, the scenery, but most importantly, the understanding of the story and what Jane Austen's Emma is all about. I have been giggling away throughout each episode as the characters are brought to life. It is so refreshing to see an adaptation that runs so well with the book. It was not since the BBC's Pride & Prejudice that I remember being so impressed. As I write this, there is still one more episode to show, and that includes Box Hill. I can't wait!!!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Patchy but enjoyable, 12 Nov 2010
By 
Isis (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Emma [DVD] (DVD)
Clearly, Romola Garai's performance as the eponymous heroine is going to make or break the adaptation. I felt her performance was patchy. Emma's epic argument with Mr Knightley at the conclusion of the first episode felt meaningful - albeit, towards the end of the scene Garai's performance seems a little bit overacted. At times I felt like she hit the right note, but then over and over again she would overact one line and it would ruin the scene. This Emma declares that she is "bored to death" of hearing about Jane Fairfax - a jarringly 21st century kind of statement to make. Her over-the-top delivery does not help matters. Unfortunately, her exaggerated expressions and 21st century lines seem entirely out of place in Austen's Regency world, irritatingly so. In Austen's rather subtle, though relatively uneventful classics of period life, one feels that a superior performance would mirror the subtleties of the literature and not have to rely on jarringly pointed remarks or exaggerated facial expression.

Jonny Lee Miller as Mr Knightley is better, although not completely perfect. Occasionally one or two of his lines feel slightly off, but he holds it together better than Garai. The genuine anger Miller puts into Knightley's argument scene with Emma feels believable and has a distinct edge and tension. It is perhaps a tad worrying that in past adaptations and when reading the book, it is Emma's shoulder I feel like I am sitting on throughout, her character I am rooting for, but in this particular series thus far it is Knightley's refreshing brand of practicality which wins my support. Unfortunately I also didn't feel any chemistry between Miller and Garai either. As for the revelation scene where Emma realises her feelings for Knightley, all I learnt was that Romola Garai should neither pull her lips like she has some kind of involuntary tic, nor frown like a stumped gorilla trying to crack open a particularly difficult nut, and that neither facial expression convinced me in the least that Emma was in love with Mr Knightley. Another quality performance worth noting is that of Jodhi May as Miss Taylor, quiet and measured, yet observant and considered, and capable of subtle expression.

The photography is excellently done, stately and beautiful, in keeping with the period setting of the drama. Likewise the orchestral music complements the scenery that it accompanies, usually light-hearted in keeping with the main tone of the book, but touched by moving moments, reminding us that these are people struggling with problems. The scenery and costumes are finely judged also, for example, Emma's fashionable but not ostentatious clothing and her small pair of pearl earrings mark her out as the daughter of gentry, but not so wealthy or noble that she is weighed down with jewels. There is a temptation in period pieces to display the finest examples of clothing and architecture of the time, but that would be above and beyond what the characters themselves could command, and it is pleasing that the programme makers have resisted that temptation.

I did have a couple of quibbles with the editing choices. For example, when Emma visits the newly arrived Jane Fairfax and the tale of Mr Dixon is recounted for the first time - it is clear that, instead of having this account merely repeated verbally, the programme makers wanted to visually show the viewer the events - so Romola Garai suddenly looks into the distance with a gormless expression on her face and a close up fades into the filmed scene with Jane and Mr Dixon. It was all just a bit cheesy, the fade could have been done without the clichéd close up of a character randomly staring into the distance. Another time I cringed was when Mr Knightley suggests the Box Hill trip, the episode then breaks suddenly and jarringly from its established rhythm and presentation of scene, to cut to a close up of Mrs Elton's face accompanied by a cheesy whoosh sound effect, in which Mrs Elton breaks the fourth wall by looking direct into the camera and making a speech. It really jarred me right out of the setting.

Overall, a good supporting cast and lovely photography accompanied by a delightful musical score, but a miscast lead actress and unfortunately a lack of chemistry between the heroine and hero of the piece. The occasional 21st century-ism and bad photography choice marred this adaptation.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Terribly flawed, 18 July 2010
This review is from: Emma [DVD] (DVD)
Emma has been adapted fairly often in recent years, most notably with Kate Beckinsale and Gwyneth Paltrow in the lead role. I didn't enjoy the Kate Beckinsale version but felt that the Gwyneth Paltrow one was pretty good. I was really looking forward to this adaptation as it was being done as a mini-series and I hoped it would be able to keep more closely to the plot with more time available.
I was so disappointed! The acting was fine and it looked as beautiful as I had hoped but I was very irritated by the script and the direction. There were glaring modern errors in much of the dialogue that really stood out. Fine if you are doing a modern version of the story but they weren't. I noticed one or two and dismissed them but after a while it started to grate on my nerves because they started to pop up everywhere and even some very up-to-date slang was used. Added to that was the modern way that Emma behaved. She lounged and leaned and threw herself about much as a teenager might today. In those times, even in the presence of a close family friend like Mr.Knightly, that sort of behaviour would have been regarded as very indecorous. A woman of such high social standing as Emma certainly wouldn't have been leaning forward over the back of couches in front of a gentleman visitor.
Not good enough, I'm afraid. If you're going to do it, do it properly, or else just do a version that takes place in 2010 and be done with (although Clueless beat you to it in the 90s).
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37 of 48 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Emma that's afraid of being Jane Austen's Emma, 16 Oct 2010
This review is from: Emma [DVD] (DVD)
Oh lord.

I so wanted this to be a wonderful series.

It had some marvellous ingredients, and without doubt there are many beautiful moments in it. But for me, character and story are more important than gorgeous cinematography (if one has to make a choice). To start with the characters, then...

(1.) The actress playing Emma looked perfect for her in physical terms - beautiful, a sort of stateliness about her that would entitle her at first glance to be described as "handsome" (in accordance with Jane Austen's famous opening line in the novel: "Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her." However, once Romola Garai started moving, gesturing, talking, etc., her acting resembled modern pouting and incessant worrying of her lip and very 21st century grimacing. It detracted from her performance and reminded me of nothing so much as Alicia Silverstone's style of acting (a bit of a coincidence, perhaps? Seeing that Alicia Silverstone portrayed the Emma-based character in "Clueless"?). It's irritating - not in the sense that Emma SHOULD be irritating (as a meddling young woman believing herself to be sensitive to the wishes and desires of others, and even manipulative when it comes to other people's matrimonial plans), but in terms of its being so stylistically wrong.

This poor style of acting and the directing of the actress are probably the main reasons for my considerable disappointment in this film.

I didn't feel Ms Garai's age was a problem. She didn't seem too old for the part of the self-assured almost-21-year-old Emma. However, the silly faces she pulled and the way she used anachronistic facial expressions and unbelievably bad posture and so on made her mental age appear YOUNGER than the "clever" Miss Woodhouse of the novel. Her mental age seemed 17 to me.

The incessant giggles and widely gaping naļve astonishment (during the ball at the Crown, for instance) at the ballroom's decorations were utterly inappropriate. "Emma was smiling with enjoyment", and "The ball proceeded pleasantly" - these are the descriptions Jane Austen gives during this chapter, and none of that indicates there should be indecorum, loud giggles, simpleton-like gazing about, etc. This was probably my least favourite scene.

(2). The actress playing Jane Fairfax was adequate, but not as good as the really beautiful actress in the earlier BBC film version (screenplay by Andrew Davies), which fully realises this image as written by Jane Austen: "Jane Fairfax was very elegant, remarkably elegant; and she had herself the highest value for elegance. Her height was pretty, just such as almost everybody would think tall, and nobody could think very tall; her figure particularly graceful; her size a most becoming medium, between fat and thin, though a slight appearance of ill-health seemed to point out the likeliest evil of the two. Emma could not but feel all this; and then, her face--her features--there was more beauty in them altogether than she had remembered; it was not regular, but it was very pleasing beauty. Her eyes, a deep grey, with dark eye-lashes and eyebrows, had never been denied their praise; but the skin, which she had been used to cavil at, as wanting colour, had a clearness and delicacy which really needed no fuller bloom. It was a style of beauty, of which elegance was the reigning character, and as such, she must, in honour, by all her principles, admire it:--elegance, which, whether of person or of mind, she saw so little in Highbury. There, not to be vulgar, was distinction, and merit."

(3). The actor playing Mr Woodhouse seemed quite good most of the time, but occasionally one could see him "acting" rather than "being". I'm not sure whether this was due to the screenplay and directing rather than to his own acting skills... but this is a role that's been better portrayed.

(4). One of the major pieces of miscasting in this film was that of Tamsin Greig as Miss Bates. I'm sorry; I loved Tamsin Greig in so many roles, but she's completely wrong as Miss Bates who is supposed to be a much older woman and CERTAINLY a much sillier woman. As written in the novels, she is terribly, terribly silly in spite of being so very good-natured, and she is an INCESSANT talker - much worse than as depicted in this film. Here's one of many quotations from the novel which show what I mean: ""Thank you. You are so kind!" replied the happily deceived aunt, while eagerly hunting for the letter.--"Oh! here it is. I was sure it could not be far off; but I had put my huswife upon it, you see, without being aware, and so it was quite hid, but I had it in my hand so very lately that I was almost sure it must be on the table. I was reading it to Mrs. Cole, and since she went away, I was reading it again to my mother, for it is such a pleasure to her--a letter from Jane--that she can never hear it often enough; so I knew it could not be far off, and here it is, only just under my huswife--and since you are so kind as to wish to hear what she says;--but, first of all, I really must, in justice to Jane, apologise for her writing so short a letter--only two pages you see--hardly two--and in general she fills the whole paper and crosses half. My mother often wonders that I can make it out so well. She often says, when the letter is first opened, 'Well, Hetty, now I think you will be put to it to make out all that chequer-work'--don't you, ma'am?--And then I tell her, I am sure she would contrive to make it out herself, if she had nobody to do it for her--every word of it--I am sure she would pore over it till she had made out every word. And, indeed, though my mother's eyes are not so good as they were, she can see amazingly well still, thank God! with the help of spectacles. It is such a blessing! My mother's are really very good indeed. Jane often says, when she is here, 'I am sure, grandmama, you must have had very strong eyes to see as you do--and so much fine work as you have done too!--I only wish my eyes may last me as well.'" - That is ALL Miss Bates, and it's far from being her longest speech.

Tamsin Greig does her best, but I actually think her being such a good comedienne plays against her here. Prunella Scales played this role in the earlier film version with what seems like a complete unconsciousness of how she was rattling on and on, with a real sense of character - a well-meaning woman who, in spite of meaning well, was both foolish and garrulous. No wonder Jane says in the novel, "[...]the comfort of being sometimes alone!" (although she does say it more in reaction to Mrs Elton than her aunt, admittedly).

(5). The Mrs Elton in the novel is not as lovely as the actress playing her in this series. According to the novel, "Her person was rather good; her face not unpretty; but neither feature, nor air, nor voice, nor manner, were elegant." It seemed to me as though the actress playing her were an also-ran for the part of Emma ("We're not going to give you Emma, my dear, but what about Mrs Elton?") rather than an ideal piece of casting for the impudent, small-minded, name-dropping, self-aggrandised Mrs Elton.

(6). The rest of the cast were mostly fine.

But now comes my largest reason for disliking this version of "Emma"... the screenplay.

What on earth possessed the screenwriter to mess around with pure Austen? The screenplay is peppered with anachronisms, modes of expression that were going for an easy laugh rather than the well-drawn romantic drama of manners and society and human character which the novel is. It's also laced with "explanations" for everyone's behaviour. A child cannot be brought up by someone not his/her own parents without a long explanation; someone can't be an incessant talker without its being "explained" by her mother being silent (this is not in the novel, by the way - it's an invention; apparently Sandy Welch can't conceive of a person being foolish and garrulous by NATURE); and then there's the awful attribution of societal naļvete to Emma. Emma is emotionally more naļve than she realises, true - but she is a well-educated woman of consequence, with as little or as much travel experience as most young women in her class at the time. It seems ludicrous to have to explain this, but young ladies did not go haring off to the seaside and to London as a matter of course in this period. Au contraire - if a girl were making her comeout in London (and this was by no means obligatory), in many cases it would be her first experience out of her own county. The idea of Emma having been tremendously isolated and more stay-at-home than the norm is a pure 21st century interpretation, and it's so inappropriate to see Emma through those eyes.

All of these points marred my enjoyment of the series - so much so that as it drew to a close while I was watching it on DVD, I was shaking my head, muttering to myself "This is so disappointing; this is just not good..." Even some of the lovely aspects of the series were drowned out in my overall experience of it because the annoyingly wrong things were SO annoyingly wrong.

Upon finishing it, I found myself putting on the DVD which starred Kate Beckinsale as Emma, with Mark Strong as Knightley, Raymond Coulthard as a FANTASTIC Frank Churchill, Bernard Hepton as an utterly superb Mr Woodhouse and Samantha Morton (whom I usually don't like) as an ideal Harriet (sweet but simple, with nothing overdone). The first time I saw the DVD, I was slow to warm to Kate Beckinsale's performance of Emma. It seemed a little constrained and cold; but the more times I watched that film version, the more I appreciated the subtlety of this portrayal. It isn't a perfect film version of Emma, but it is a very beautiful and realistic one. Emma is SUPPOSED to behave according to the class distinctions of her time, after all.

Perhaps a perfect film or series version of "Emma" will be created one day - but in the meantime, I am very satisfied with the film version...

... and sadly, bitterly disappointed with this series of the story.

Three stars, as there were some lovely things about it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great BBC Adaptation, 23 April 2010
By 
A. Law (Leeds, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Emma [DVD] (DVD)
Emma as a heroine may not be everyone's cup of tea, but Emma the BBC adaptation should be. It's gloriously shot, and the actors are great. I even have a little cry near the end. Love it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Emma, 26 Oct 2009
By 
S. Thomas - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Emma [DVD] (DVD)
I usually watch BBC period adaptations as they tend to be well produced. Emma is no exception and it is definitely worth watching.

Jonny Lee Miller was fantastic in the part. He was truly believable in the role and seemed to live the part rather than act it; he was Knightly. Emma's character took a little longer to warm to. It wasn't that she was played badly, just that it wasn't an instant win for me. By the middle of the first episode however, we were hooked.

I cannot compare the BBC adaptation with the book as I have never read it, but I found the series very enjoyable. The DVD is definitely one to add to the collection.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Love it!, 2 July 2014
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This review is from: Emma [DVD] (DVD)
This is the best version of this costume drama that I've seen.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good production, 13 Jun 2014
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It is a good production and the actors play well. Satisfactory and enjoyable. (too many words required, I do not know what else I should say)
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5.0 out of 5 stars sublime, 2 Jun 2014
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excellent delivery time, condition and packaging. Romola Garai is wonderful in this. I think this is by far the best adaptation, very very enjoyable, buy it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I didn't miss one episode..., 28 April 2014
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Saw it on TV every week... and recommend to everyone of Jane Austen Fans...
Excellent extras as well... Also Reread the book as well
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Emma [DVD]
Emma [DVD] by Jim O'Hanlon (DVD - 2009)
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