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on 25 April 2000
This 1996 production of Emma is a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining piece - thoughtful and true to the original work, with fine costumes and scenery. The original characters are brought to life on-screen effectively and believably. Kate Beckinsale makes a marvellous, entertaining Emma. This version is far superior to the more recent 1999 version (starring Gwyneth Paltrow et al). The recent version detracts from the essence of the story with 'big names', exaggerated characters and scenes and generally looses (amidst stars, spoofing and glamour), the typical wry, under-stated English manner captured so well by Austen and portrayed delightfully in this earlier version of Emma. This earlier production of Emma has to be the choice, over the new Gwyneth Paltrow version, for Austen fans.
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on 12 June 2013
I watched this as a teenager when it first came out in 1996 (the same year as the totally different Gwyneth Paltrow version) and didn't like it. I've since read and studied the book a few times over, and decided to purchase this version on a whim. On rewatching, I found it utterly charming.

Kate Beckinsale isn't terrifically beautiful here, as she wears little makeup and they've put her in ugly hats, but she has a sweet face with a hint of mischief, and she's pretty young, so she carries the role of Emma well. Mark Strong is a stellar Mr Knightley, the perfect combination of misanthropy and gentility, and it's refreshing to see a slightly dark Knightley, with the flashes of genuine anger that characterise him in the book. There's real chemistry between the two leads.

Prunella Scales is endearing as Miss Bates, Olivia Williams is a lovely Jane Fairfax, and Raymond Coulthard's Frank Churchill is dashing but smarmy and unappealing, as he should be. In fact, this adaptation is different enough to the film version to render it worthwhile. The relationship between Jane and Frank is hinted at much earlier, as is Knightley's interest in Emma.

In the book, Emma claims to be worried that if Knightley marries, her nephew Henry will be cheated out of his inheritance. Of course, she has other reasons for not wanting Knightley to marry, but it's a while before she's able to admit that. This adaptation picks up on the "poor Henry" factor, which is nice. It also begins and ends with chicken thieves, which seems odd until Emma uses it as an excuse to reconcile her father to her engagement. In this adaptation, you get a true sense of the rural location of Highbury, and the agricultural responsibilities of Donwell Abbey's landlord.

This is a quiet, understated little production, with an emphasis on realism over the slick and overly-designed costumes and interiors of the Hollywood version. Not all the performances are great, but the important ones are very satisfying, and the romance is genuine and heart-warming. The music is pretty, and the home and gardens used for Hartfield are really beautiful. I unexpectedly found myself smiling from beginning to end, except during the dystopian nightmare that is the Box Hill picnic. (My name is Emma, so when Mr Knightley says "badly done, Emma," in the book or in any adaptation, I always feel physically ill. I'm sure at least one person has said that to me in my lifetime.) In this version, Mark Strong's voice breaks while he's admonishing Emma, and you get a true sense that he's as grieved as he is angry. It's heartbreaking.

The misery is short-lived. When Mr Knightley came nervously charging down the steps at the end to find Emma in the garden, my heart skipped a beat. If you've never seen this, or you didn't like it the first time, give it another go. I watched it today, and it was a good day.
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on 2 January 2016
Can be enjoyed repeatedly. To me this has the best Frank Churchill and perhaps Jane Fairfax of the four versions available. Emma, Mr. Knightley, Harriett Smith and Mr. Woodhouse are all very good indeed, though I prefer the ones in the 1972 production, particularly Emma herself. I can't stand Prunella Scales, regrettably.
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VINE VOICEon 24 March 2015
An excellent BBC version of 'Emma', Kate Beckinsale brings a welcome charm to the character of Emma and Mark Strong is a wonderful Mr Knightley. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and think any Austen fan will also do so. Great fun.
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on 9 April 2016
one of my favourite films........love Kate Beckinsale and Mark Strong in the leading roles
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on 16 January 2018
Wife loves this type of story. Entertaining and historical, showing how we once lived.
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on 21 July 2010
I think this serialisation was better than the hollywood glitzed film of Emma. It follows the book more closely and reflects the humour in Jane Austens story more showing a much slower build in the relationship of the two leads supported by a quirky mix of characters. The chemistry between Kate Beckinsale and Mark Strong is great to watch and Samantha Morton is wonderful in it too. Its a joy to watch.
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on 22 June 2016
I have now all the copy's of Jane austins Emma I can say that ilike them all they all have something is particular for each copy
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on 16 March 2018
It is ok
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on 6 February 2018
Love it.
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