Emma the Movie (1996) vs. Emma (ITV 1996) vs. Emma the BBC Series (2009)

Kernel Tossing – Movie 5 – Series 4 – ITV 3

emma-2009-serialI just finished completely watching the 2009 BBC Emma, after only having seen portions. I’ve watched the 1996 movie versions more times than I can remember. Also, ITV in 1996 released another Emma.

Of course, most of you die-hard period drama and Jane Austen fans have no doubt watched all of these adaptations until you ran out of popcorn and tissues. Nevertheless, there will always be a new generation sucked into period drama asking about these portrayals. In case you read my blog ten years from now, here is my two cents worth.

My feelings about these two versions bring me to the lyrics, “Twisted every way, what answer can I give?” (Phantom of the Opera wiggling it’s way into my review again.) At times like these, I fear offending fans. It’s as bad as answering the question — who is your favorite Darcy — and then not answering Colin Firth. On the other hand, it can be a good thing that we have choices representing our romantic heroes. You get three kinds of Emmas, Mr. Knightley’s, and the remaining cast of characters in Jane Austen’s story of ill-fated matchmaking.

Emma-1996-one-sheet-poster-001So which one do I like the best? Okay, I’ll admit it — the movie version. Mostly because of Jeremy Northam’s portrayal of Mr. Knightly, and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Emma.  However, it rates the lowest among public opinion on IMDb.

I agree the series has its merits as well. I’ve always like Romola Garai, whose smile is stunning. She’s a perky misguided Emma even though reviews paint her otherwise with some hating her constant eye rolling. In my opinion, the chemistry and attraction between Emma and Knightly (played by Jonny Lee Miller) lack in the television version. Of course, I could be partial to Northam’s smoldering looks. I mean when he was in his younger years, who wouldn’t? His voice is enough to melt the winter’s snow.

Another good point, of course, is the length and slower portrayal of the story in the series. Scenes are longer and set in different settings than the movie. Some of the other characters that were cast in the series I frankly like better than in the movie, i.e. Frank Churchill, Mr. and Mrs. Elton, and Miss Bates. The remaining characters in the series, I prefer better in the movie version. Well, gosh, that sure puts my preferences in a pickle. Too bad I couldn’t mix and match and pick the cast I loved the best on my own. I’d make them do a new version just for me.

emma beckensaleAnd last but not least is the ITV version of Emma with Kate Beckinsale as Emma and Mark Strong as Mr. Knightly. I know that this is a favorite of many as well.  However, I will admit that it is not mine.  I think that I am terribly spoiled with new and more up-to-date cinematography.  The costumes, settings, and terrible sound quality detract from the story.  As much as I enjoy Kate, the other cast of characters is not my favorite.  Mr. Knightly does not “float my boat,” to quote Miss Price on Lost in Austen. What I find interesting is that both this ITV version and the movie version came out in the same year.  I don’t quite understand the timing.

So let’s survey this one. What version do you like better? Vote below and have fun.  Are their more versions of Emma?  Yes.  One in 1948 (film), 1960 (television series), and 1972 (television series).   For a list of all the Austen adaptations of her various stories, here is a great page on Wikipedia.

Oh, and my favorite Darcy is Elliot Cowan. (I can hear the moans across the internet.) I mean, who cannot like that shirt scene in the lake while Miss Price has her Colin Firth moment?

Coming up – those multiple versions of other Austen greats.  Where’s the popcorn?

One thought on “Emma the Movie (1996) vs. Emma (ITV 1996) vs. Emma the BBC Series (2009)

  1. I have a soft spot for Mark Strong but Jeremy Northam just beats him to it. I thought Prunella Scales made a great Miss Bates though I loved the real life mother/daughter pairing of Sophie Thompson and Phyllida Law.

    Liked by 1 person

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