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Saturday, October 31

More on Emma 2009

Charles Moore from The Telegraph delighted in marking the mistakes in Emma 2009 in his article, This misdjudged Emma is a pendant's dream. His observations include:

Why, for instance, on a single day of the story, were we offered the horticultural miracle of daffodils out, oak in full leaf and mature wistaria flowering (the last did not even acquire its name until two years after the book was published in 1816)?

Emma speaks of an "exercise regime", and Mr Knightley (I think) of an "expansion project". They enjoy "a mystery honeymoon", with Mr Woodhouse complaining about "wanderlust". The famous piano is called a "surprise gift", and the rooms chosen for a dance are admired as a "space".

Some of the actors – often in the minor parts, such as Robert Bathurst as Mr Weston or Tamsin Greig as Miss Bates – successfully imagine themselves in Austen's milieu. Others stumble around as if they have just rented the kit from Bermans and Nathans for a fancy-dress party.

Click on the above link to read the entire, not so fullsome article.


ibmiller said...

Quite aside from the pedantry, which the author both knows is unattractive and revels in (and invites others to prove him wrong - which I, unfortuately, am attempting to do by going to the OED, since he seems to have entirely overlooked that), the last paragraph is quite insulting to viewers who enjoy the series and honestly attempt to intellectually as well as emotionally engage with it.

"What, after all, is Emma about? It is about the difficulty of knowing what one truly knows about oneself and others. It is about how a woman can come to know these things and, in particular, a very young woman. In Austen's world, the acquisition of such knowledge is social. It comes from learning to read accurately what other people mean by what they say and do. It follows that the jokes, the nuances, the moral deepening all depend on rendering that society in a sustained, credible and subtle way, so that the reader can follow Emma in her discoveries and her mistakes. This drama forgot this, and so lost the plot."

Those of us who loved the series argue, in detail and strenuously, that the "moral deepening" of Emma's character is indeed what this adaptation brings out - as well as the production's attempt to believe in a world different than the author perhaps believes the past to be - but that does not make the production's world insincere, forgotten, or less valuable in interpreting the novel.

Alexa Adams said...

I agree. While I too watched the series with an eye for all the little errors (which every Austen adaptation has, to some degree or another), I do not believe that the attempts at modernizing the body and verbal language of the characters somehow resulted in the plot being lost. Emma is, in many ways, a bildungsroman, a fact which this adaptation captures admirably. There are many justifiable criticisms to be made here but Mr. Moore goes a bit far. And I have a very difficult time believing that anyone who would tear this adaptation into shreds in such a manner would find Clueless more satisfying. Making a comparison to a film he has never seen is annoyingly presumptuous. This version is far from perfect, the attempts at modernization are indeed flawed, but at the end of the day it's still Emma and, therefore, delightful.