Shortly after finishing the book, I watched the movie of Jane Austen’s Emma (2009 BBC). I had seen two other movie versions but had not yet found an Emma I could like. While I can’t say that I will ever love this heroine, this film certainly made her more endearing than the others. In fact, this production took the sharp edges off of several of the book’s most annoying characters.
Actor Michael Gambon was perfect as the father. His performance was much more understated than the book, which made him a likable hypochondriac (rather than a huge bore). Even Miss Bates, the talkative spinster comes off more sympathetically. Best of all is Emma who is as silly and conceited as the novel portrays her to be, but who is also shown to be thoughtful, caring, and genuinely sorry for her mistakes.
The relationship between Emma and Mr. Knightley is done to perfection. There is just the right amount of brotherliness for him to be always giving her advice, but not enough to make make the romance unbelievable. In the other films Emma seems intimidated by Knightly, but in this one she cares about what he thinks, while at the same time valuing her own opinion.
To top it all off, the filming is glorious. And I must say I was pleasantly surprised to see less heaving bosoms, which seem to be a standard component to many modern Austen films. A very pleasant four-hour series.