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Sunday, June 28

Jane Austen Movie Throwdown

Jane Austen wrote of Emma Woodhouse, “I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.” In this week's movie throwdown, our question is: Whose performance as Emma do you like best? Elegant Gwyneth Paltrow, the earthier Kate Beckinsale, or uber modern Alicia Silverstone? All played the character between 1995 and 1996, a particularly fine period for Emmas.
Favorite Emma

Gwynneth Paltrow, 1996 Emma

To many, Gwynneth is the embodiment of Emma. Tall and graceful, she lends to the character an elegant, haughty, and aristocratic air. Her background as the privileged child of a director and actress resembles Emma Woodhouse's in many ways. Still channelling Emma over 12 years later, Gwynneth dispenses advice to one and all in her new website, Goop!

Her Emma quotes: "Had I not promoted Mr. Weston's visits and given encouragement where encouragement was needed, we might not have had a wedding today," and "One does not like to generalize about so many people all at once, Mr. Knightley, but you may be sure that men know nothing about their hearts, whether they be six-and-twenty, or six-and-eighty."


Kate Beckinsale, 1996 Emma

Amazingly Kate looks prettier these days than when she played Emma 13 years ago. Her interpretation of Emma is earthier than Gwynneth's and more matter of fact. The hats she's forced to wear in the film, although historically accurate, are excrutiatingly ugly, though they lend her character authority and maturity beyond her years. Kate's Emma stands up to Mark Strong's forceful performance as Mr. Knightley. This Emma was written by Andrew Davies, prolific Jane Austen script writer.

Her Emma quotes: "He is very plain, undoubtedly, but that is nothing like his very lack of gentility. I had not expected much but I had no idea he was so very clownish, so totally without air," and "Papa, I have heard that the chicken thieves have returned to the neighborhood. Not two nights ago they broke into Mrs. Weston’s chicken house and stole all the turkeys…would you not be happier knowing Mr. Knightley was in the house?"


Alicia Silverstone, 1995 Clueless

Although Alicia's character was renamed Cher and lives in 20th century LA, Amy Heckerling's adaptation of Emma remains true to the character. Alicia's performance as a rich, spoiled, bossy, materialistic Cher is unforgettable. She's simply perfect as the clueless driver license-challenged Cher. I'm still waiting for her to find another part so richly suited to her talents.

Her Emma quotes:
"Old people can be so sweet," "Isn't my house classic? The columns date all the way back to 1972," and " I am totally butt crazy in love with Josh."

pollcode.com free polls
Whose Emma peformance do you like best?
Gwynneth Paltrow Kate Beckinsale Alicia Silverstone

8 comments:

Deb said...

I love these throw downs! It is great to see what other Janeites like! And aren't we lucky to be able to chose from so many adaptations!

Charleybrown said...

Without a doubt, Gwyneth has my vote! I know there are plenty who can't abide her adaptation but I'm not one of them! I have a hard time liking Beckinsale's performance...

Lynn said...

The question I pose to myself for a throwdown is, Who do I picture in the cast as I read the book EMMA ?

Of the 3 Emma performances, my favorite is K. Beckinsale's. I guess I'm just a snob but she has a real accent. The supporting cast is excellent and although rather dreary at times, I still like it.

BTW,
Even though the hats and some of the clothes she wore were historically accurate, they were awful !

G.Paltrow comes in second. I like the film because she is playing a person with a similar background, it has a lighter, more playful feeling to it and once again, the supporting cast is great !

I just love A.Silverstone so much and I too have been waiting for a good role for her. Because it is a modern day version of the story, it's hard for me to put it in the running with the other two films. And anyway, can you imagine Cher with an accent ? As if...

Lorraien said...

I think Alicia Silverstone gives a perfect performance in the wonderful Clueless but I have to pick Kate Beckinsale. I think the range of her performance is better than Paltrow who is too bland for me. But I must admit the 1996 Emma is one of my favorite Austen adaptations.

Kaye Dacus said...

I'm going to be a snob along with Lynn---I much prefer the fact that Kate Beckinsale has the genuine accent. Plus I think she's a better/more expressive actress than Paltrow. Of course, it's easy for me to form strong opinions when it comes to this story, because Emma is my least favorite of all of the books, and Emma herself is one of my least favorite characters in all the books.

giddymomof6 said...

Gwen is so awesome!!! I love her--but I do own all three of these and watch them all the time. But maybe my fascination with Gwen, comes with her awesome knightly--sigh. Jenni

Love"apartments in Manila"Ly said...

My vote is Kate Beckinsale, judging by the looks she definitely has the right face for the character Emma.

Ange"rug cleaners Los Angeles"Lyn said...

I have to agree, Kate Beckinsale is the best.