A New Take On A Classic?

As promised (whether you want it or not), here is a little review of the the new BBC miniseries Emma.  One might wonder why people are still making adaptations of Emma, since a number of them have been done already.  Not only does Austen seem to be gaining in popularity, however, but some of the adaptations of her books were done in the ’70s and ’80s (or earlier) and seem very dated.

I do have to say, however, that this new miniseries is still not as good as the 1996 version of Emma–I’m talking about the A&E version and not about the one with Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma.  Perhaps the reason for the superiority of the 1996 A&E version is the screenwriter, Andrew Davies.  He seems to be able to capture the essence of novels, even when he has to seriously condense them.

There were moments in the new miniseries when I felt like the actors were acting.  Well, of course they were, but their movements, speech, and actions often felt too studied and prepared.  There were genuine moments as well (most of them from Michael Gambon), but the main characters too often fell into "acting" rather than "reacting."

So I’m still where I was before I watched the new Emma: Kate Beckinsale is the best Emma Woodhouse and Mark Strong is the best George Knightley.  They engage in Austen’s dialog and dance through Davies’ screenplay with a charm that can’t be matched.