Friday, January 20, 2012

Three Emmas in Four Days!

 Recently my sister Bea finished reading Jane Austen's Emma for school. We were both excited about this particularly because it not only marks the second Jane Austen novel she's read but also because I promised her we could watch any Emma film adaptations she wanted to after she finished the book.
Well, we ended up watching three adaptations of Emma in four nights this past week! We had so much fun comparing Emma (1996), Emma (1997) and Emma (2009)! We did watch a few of the ending scenes from Emma (1972) but decided to forgo watching watching it all the way through.

Now Bea and I would like to share with you thoughts on our favorites actor portrayals and talk about which is our favorite adaptation and why.

So here are our favorites (with lots of photos of course!):

Our Favorite Actor Portrayals:

Mrs. Weston
Bea's Favorite: Jodhi May (2009) She was playful enough with Emma, sensible, but not extravagant. Just like she should be.

Miss Laurie's Favorite: Jodhi May (2009). It used to be just by default because I wasn't too keen on the other actresses who portrayed her. But on this recent viewing I found her portrayal kind, genteel, sensible but she also plays along with Emma's silliness.

Mr. Weston
Bea's Favorite: My picture of Mr. Weston always was friendly and outgoing, rich, but simple and that's how Robert Bathurst played him.

Miss Laurie's Favorite: Robert Bathurst sort of by default because other portrayals don't really capture Mr. Weston. But I found that his portrayal is kind, generous and concerned that people will like his son Frank.

Harriet Smith
Bea's Favorite: Samantha Morton (1997) does it best! She has the right looks, pretty, petite and mouse-like. I also liked how Louise Dylan played her.

Miss Laurie's Favorite: Samantha Morton! She is sweet, pretty, gentle, truly admires Mr. Knightley and looks to Emma for guidance. Louise Dylan was alright but I found her Harriet a bit flighty.

Robert Martin
Bea's Favorite: Jefferson Hall (2009) He's simple but friendly and good looking enough to suit Harriet. I love how they show him asking Mr. Knightley for his "approval".

Miss Laurie's Favorite: Jefferson Hall (2009). Good natured and kind, truly attached to Harriet and you feel very sorry for him being refused.

Mr. Elton
Bea's Favorite: Blake Ritson fits the look of Mr. Elton, but I like how Alan Cumming played him. My favorite part is when Blake Ritson was keeping time with the music during the ball scenes by bouncing up and down ever so slightly.

Miss Laurie's Favorite: Blake Ritson (2009) plays him very pompous, slimy, a bit funny and so full of himself! I also liked Alan Cumming (1996) who added a lot of comedy to the character, especially at the Weston's Christmas party! 

Mrs. Elton
Bea's Favorite: Christina Cole is exactly how I see Mrs. E.

Miss Laurie's Favorite: I liked that Christina Cole is younger and shows a more youthful Mrs. Elton. But I really liked how Juliet Stevenson (1996) played her as very chatty and pretentious with more lines coming from the book.

Miss Bates
Bea's Favorite: I liked them all, Tamsin Greig looked right to me, I liked how Sophie Thompson played her, but I also liked how Prunella Scales "rambled" on and on. =)

Miss Laurie's Favorite: I like most of them but Sophie Thompson's Miss Bates is comical, chatters on, is a bit silly and has the right age and looks in the 1996 adaptation.

Mrs. Bates
Bea's Favorite: Valerie Lilley - quiet. I don't think Jane Austen had her saying or doing anything besides snoozing. But I liked at the end of  Emma (2009) where she says something about little Anna Weston. =)

Miss Laurie's Favorite: The 2009 version for me is perfect. I love how she's quiet through most of it and then surprises her daughter by opening up at the end.

Isabella Knightley
Bea's Favorite: Poppy Miller did it for me. She actually had lines! She definitely seems like a mother but also elegant.

Miss Laurie's Favorite: Poppy Miller in the 2009 version is sweet, kind and a good wife and mother.

John Knightley
Bea's Favorite: Dan Fredenburgh was my favorite John Knightley. I loved how he was more part of the story like he was in the book.

Miss Laurie's Favorite: I really enjoy Guy Henry's dry wit and teasing in the 1997 version the best but also really like how Dan Fredenburgh in 2009 was given a lot more lines and just seemed more fatherly and more like he was Mr. Knightley's brother. 

Jane Fairfax
Bea's Favorite: Laura Pyper IS Jane Fairfax. She's sweet and plays the part perfectly (she's also not too old).

Miss Laurie's Favorite: To me Laura Pyper (2009) is perfect! So sweet, pretty, elegant, sorry for the necessity of keeping secrets, and she just looks like Jane Fairfax! :)

Frank Churchill
Bea's Favorite: Rupert Evans (Rupert indeed! I detest that name!) is fun and attractive like Frank should be. He also plays good irritable scenes. =P Although I used to like Raymond Coulthard and he's actually the mental picture I saw of Frank while reading the book.

Miss Laurie's Favorite: Rupert Evans (2009)!! I love that he's young, friendly, open and flirtatious with Emma, goes riding round the countryside and plays the moody scenes very well!

Mr. Woodhouse
Bea's Favorite: Michael Gambon (2009) He worries, but he's not overly protective. It seems to me other Mr. Woodhouse's are played kind of "sickly" but Michael Gambon plays him perfectly.

Miss Laurie's Favorite: While I greatly admire Sir Michael Gambon and like his preformance as Mr. Woodhouse a bit more each time I watch the 2009 adaptation, I still find something wanting. My favorite is Bernard Hepton in the 1997 version because he has more lines from the book and seems truly concerned for everyone's well being.

Emma Woodhouse
Bea's Favorite: Kate Beckinsale reminds me a lot of Miss Laurie at times. Eye colors, hair color, shape of the nose...oh and the teeth. I do think she played the part well, but! I also must say, so does Romola Garai! I like her interpretation of Emma best I think.

Miss Laurie's Favorite: Ramola Garai's portrayal is my favorite and I like her more and more each time I watch the 2009 adaptation. She's youthful, fun loving, can be a bit annoying like Emma in the book but is also very kindhearted.

Mr. Knightley
Bea's Favorite: Jonny Lee Miller all.the.way! He's perfect! He is Mr. Knightley to a T!

Miss Laurie's Favorite: Johnny Lee Miller, how did he do it??? Every look, every comment, every move IS Mr. Knightley! He's the perfect older brother figure, kind, perceptive, corrects Emma gently but firmly. Every time I watch the 2009 adaptation I find myself learning something new about his gentlemanly character!

Our Favorite Adaptation:

Bea's Favorite: EMMA 2009!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *ahem*
Emma 2009 was my favorite of the three. I'll tell you why:
Best cast. Best Mr. Knightley. ever.
Best Hartfield & Donwell.
Best proposal scene. Best clothes!!
The scene's are just...right.
Oh, and I love how it starts out with little Frank, Jane and Emma.
And the dances are wonderful! Especially Ship's Cook!

Miss Laurie's Favorite: While I enjoy the other adaptations, Emma (2009) has been my favorite since the first time I watched it! It is playful, witty, filled with very sweet and delightful moments all while staying true to the book. I also love how much historical information is hidden in it with regards to social etiquette - little tidbits about traveling, dancing & balls, music, fashion, eating, decorating, country houses and so many other Regency things! The world portrayed in it is everything I enjoy reading about in Jane Austen's novels.
So delightful! 

My sister Bea posts about her photography, crafts, baking and other musings at her blog Captured Thoughts. She is currently participating in a Project 365 - posting a photo each day this year!
Thank you for joining me in this post Bea! It's been so much fun watching and talking about Emma!

Now we want to hear from you! 

Who are your favorite actors in the roles and why? 
Which Emma adaptation is your favorite and why?


Jemimah C. said...

I loved reading yours and Bea's thoughts on Emma! I think we all have to agree: Emma (2009) is the best, most perfect Emma adaptation ever!

Mom Walds Place said...

Consider me a traitor if you must, but the 1996 Emma is still my favorite.

While other actors have done other characters well, Gwenyth Paltrow is still my favorite Emma. Sophie Thompson's Miss Bates is exactly how I pictured her when reading the book.

The 2009 version being a mini series did have the time to do the older men better. I had a wonderful grandfather, so I have a soft spot for "old guys".

Still, the 1996 is my favorite. I wonder how many would agree that the first they fell in love with continued to be their favorite.

beast'sbelle said...

The 2009 version is pretty spectacular. I love it because it has so much more detail and has the time to explore more of the story line. I especially enjoyed the fleshing out of John and Isabella Knightley's characters. It was also nice that this version had the time to explore both Jane and Frank AND Harriet and Robert's stories. It seemed like the 1996 Emma focused more on Harriet's story and left out a lot of Jane's (I still remember being amazed at all the Frank/Jane stuff that the 1996 film missed the first time I read the book), while the 1997 version focuses more on Frank and Jane at the expense of Harriet and Robert.

I think for me, the 2009 and the 1996 versions are my favorites. The 2009 for its detail and excellent cast, and the 1996 version, because like Mom Walds Place, it was the first version I saw and holds a special place in my heart. And I'm sorry, I love Johnny Lee Miller, but Jeremy Northam will always be the ultimate Mr. Knightley for me! I was so in love with him in high school, when the movie first came out. ;) I also feel like the 2009 version has more "watered down" language, if you know what I mean. The 1996 version just sounds more accurate.

While I don't care much for the 1997 version (I really don't care for Mark Strong's Mr. Knightley...too severe!), it does contain my favorite Frank and Jane. I really like Raymond Coulthard's portrayal of Frank, and Polly Walker is such a sweet, elegant Jane Fairfax.

The main reason I prefer Jeremy Northam's portrayal of Mr. Knightley to anyone else's is because of 2 scenes: the scene where he and Emma quarrel about Harriet refusing Robert Martin, and (especially) the scene where he scolds Emma for being unkind to Miss Bates. The Harriet/Robert scene is full of their back and forth banter, but it doesn't escalate into a yelling match, like it does in the other 2 versions. And Jeremy's scolding of Emma about Miss Bates affects me more than any of the others because he was able to capture the genuine hurt behind his words. He is grieved by Emma's behavior and her supposed connection to Frank. I felt like the other 2 Mr. Knightleys were just angry!

Okay, wow, sorry for such a long comment! This is one of my favorite Jane Austen novels, and I just get a bit carried away when talking about it and its movie adaptations! ;)

Net Movie Blogger said...

Oh, I loved reading your post ... and remembering all the wonderful Emma story and character details. It has been awhile since I've watched any of the Jane Austen movies and reading your comments brought it all back to me! I loved it - and I suppose I love all the film versions, too. The Gwyneth Paltrow ~ Jeremy Northam "Emma" has a special place in my heart - as my first "Austen" experience; however, Emma (2009) is my favorite, as well - in fact it made Favorite TV Movie of the Year on my web-site for 2010 (when it aired on TV in the US).

Anyway, thank you again, for a wonderful post! It was such a delight to read!

Mrs.Rabe said...

Fun post!

Our favorite is the 2009 version! It tells the whole story better. The actors are really great in their roles. We like the Gwyneth Paltrow version, but the Kate Beckinsale version we refer to as 'grumpy Emma.'


Sarah said...

What a serendipitous post full of lovely images, thank you! I have been debating this topic with myself recently, and the answer is not as clear-cut as I thought! Emma (2009) is my favourite choice, and I must have watched the series about twenty times last year, but I recently bought the Gwyneth Paltrow film on DVD to compare and contrast again, and must admit to liking some aspects of that version, even if the subplots are chopped to pieces. Juliet Stevenson, though slightly too old, is a fantastic Mrs Elton, and she narrates the audiobook version of Emma very well, too! Gwyneth is my favourite Emma in looks, but Romola wins for character portrayal. And for Mr Knightley, there is no contest - Jonny Lee Miller! (Jeremy Northam plays more of an Edwardian Mr K.)

I cannot bring myself to watch the Beckinsale series or the 1972 BBC series ever again, though! Miscast and miserable.

Miss Dashwood said...

Well, my favorite is the 2009 version, but I haven't yet seen the others so maybe I'm a little biased. However, the characters in 09 just look so perfect for their roles! Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller just capture the two main characters so perfectly.

Oddly enough, when I saw the picture of Miss Bea's copy of Emma, I thought, "She looks just like Kate Beckinsale!" Then I got a closer look and saw that her nose was a little different, but at first glance the painting does bear a marked resemblance to "the brown-haired Emma".

Also, when I looked at the picture of Guy Henry from the 1997 version, I thought at first it was Adrian Lukis, and thought "WHAT?? Mr. Wickham was John Knightley??" but then I saw the actor's name and knew it couldn't be him. They do look rather alike though (at least in that picture). :)

Elizabeth said...

Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes! I am so very glad you started out with Mrs. I go again...(i'm always having rants about certain things, and Jodhi May as Miss Taylor - er, Mrs. Weston is one of them)

I think I liked Jodhi May almost more than I liked Emma! (that sounds really stupid, and hypocritical, i know, but its true.) I LOVED how beautiful yet "middle-aged governess-y" she looked. Her voice is very mild and sweet, and she always seems to have a kind word for everyone. How lovely! She was simply perfect in every respect - I wish they had dwelt on her just a tad more...sigh..

Oh, yes and I quite agree that Poppy Miller was superb! In the other versions, Isabella is scarcely seen, and Poppy was just perfect for this one...

And Mr. Knightley....sigh...Johnny Lee Miller...I'd never heard of this actor till i saw him in this movie...he was perfect!!! I liked Mr. Knightley in the Gwenyth Paltrow version (sorry, don't know his name) but he seemed a bit the Kate Beckinstale version, his hair and nose were SO annoying, i had a hard time liking him...But Johnny Lee Miller was perfection! :)

Thanks for posting this!

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