December 9, 2015

Jane Austen Adaptations :: Part 1 {Persuasion & Emma}


Due to a comment (from the lovely Naomi :) on this post (plus my overall love of all things Austen, of course!), I'm currently in the mood to chat more about Jane Austen and her wonderful stories. Naomi noticed that I mentioned I have watched just about all of the adaptations out there. There are still a couple I've missed, I think, but I've gotten to see pretty much all of them. This was helped because a small library that was located very near my California house had most of them! Which was awesome. :D

Now then. I figured it was high time I talked about a few of the adaptations here, maybe rank my favorites and so on. Because I do have favorites, although some of them are harder to choose between than others. And then there's all the modern retellings out there as well! I was going to just do one big post about the adaptations of the original stories and then a second post about the many modern retellings, but I realized those posts were liable to get really, really huge, at which point I'd probably lose your interest. So! I'm separating the books out into different posts and including all adaptations (modern or no) therein. Fun, yes? I hope so. :)

Persuasion

Yes, y'all know that this is my favorite of Ms. Austen's stories. I have made no secret of this, I am well aware! So naturally I picked this one to talk about first. :) Unfortunately, there are not a lot of film adaptations of this book, which is quite terrible, I might add! In point of fact, I'm still waiting for the perfect adaptation. You know, the one that will be at least three or four hours long, with a great cast, stays pretty faithful to the book, etc. I can dream, right? And hope? :)

I did write a post on the 1995 and 2007 versions and the actors/actresses a few months ago (here) and I talked about my reasons for liking each one. I also mentioned the 1971 version and how I haven't seen it in years, but I remember it being a bit dry. I don't want to bore you with more of the same thoughts worded differently (or not), so will keep this short and sweet. {Also of note: this review of Persuasion, including the book and both recent adaptations ('95 & '07), which just made me happy. So I had mention it here!}

Persuasion (BBC, 1971)
Persuasion - 1971
Like I said, I haven't seen this one in a while, but what I remember is it's really dry and can be a bit boring. The BBC has definitely come a long way since 1971! The overall story is pretty faithful to the book, I believe. And if you don't mind the drab look of the miniseries, you may just enjoy it. Although I'd really recommend it only to the diehard Persuasion fans.


Persuasion
Persuasion - 1995
I think I love this one most for the conversation between Captain Harville and Anne near the end and where Wentworth and Anne finally come to understand one another again. You know, where Anne and Harville talk about who loves the longest, men or women. It's where we get the sweetest and quickest interaction between Anne and Wentworth as well. Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds do a fantastic job in this scene, in my opinion. For all the little things that bother me about this version, that scene redeems it for me. What can I say? I'm a sucker for the moment where Wentworth gives her that incredible letter and Anne's heart gets put completely back together again! Anne's face as she reads that letter...? Oh my heart! I love it. :)


Persuasion 2007 DVD Cover.jpg
Persuasion - 2007
Yes, I will admit that a big draw to this one is Rupert Penry-Jones as Wentworth! It's shallow, but there you go. I love how he stares at Anne, especially in two scenes in particular. The first being when Anne is playing the piano in a room by herself at Uppercross and she imagines Wentworth watching her (or does she? We'll never know. :) and the second being when they have their chat near the end and Wentworth finds out Anne is not engaged to Mr. Elliot. Plus I love the little bits where we get things from his point of view, like his conversations with Harville. And that very last scene? True to the time period and book or not, I love it anyway! This version is not without its flaws, but I can mostly overlook them. For Rupert, I can overlook them! ;)

Emma

This is one of the books I haven't read yet. Interestingly, a dear friend hadn't read any Austen at all until earlier this year and she started with this one. And loved it! Clearly I need to move this one up my TBR. :) I've seen four versions of this, plus two modern retellings.


Emma (BBC, 1972)
Emma - 1972
Like Persuasion from 1971, this one is a bit dry from what I can remember. I haven't seen it in a great while either. But I can definitely say this, the BBC has been good at staying faithful to the original books when they do an Austen adaptation! The actress who plays Emma has a particular way of acting and talking, it sort of began to bug me by about halfway through. And Mr. Knightley seems a great deal older than Emma. Which, I know, he is, but it just bothered me in this version. If you're a serious Emma fan though, you might enjoy this one!


Emma
Emma - 1996
I wanted to like this one, I really did. I know several people who love it, but unfortunately I don't. Although I do admit that I haven't seen it in a while, so if I watched it again perhaps my opinion would change. But I've found a favorite version and this isn't it. I can say this in its favor however, Jeremy Northam is rather handsome as Mr. Knightley! (He's not my Mr. Knightley, but I can appreciate his good qualities nonetheless. ;) Gwyneth does a fine job, and she and Jeremy have great chemistry from what I remember. To be honest, I never could pinpoint precisely what doesn't work for me with this version. All I know is that I tried to love it and seemed unable to. Several friends love this version though, so don't just take my word for it! :)


Emma - 1996
I wanted to like this version as well, but alas. It's not quite as star-studded as the previous one, but is still very well done. I'm pretty sure where this one trips me up is Mark Strong as Mr. Knightley. I just never can really like him. And you need to like Mr. Knightley, he's pretty important to the story! :) In that climactic scene with Emma, he's a bit too stern and grumpy or something. There are those that love his Mr. Knightley though, so once again don't just take my word for it. I should mention that I do like Samantha Morton as Harriet. She comes across as appropriately na├»ve, but not too silly, which I appreciate.


Emma (2009 BBC Version)
Emma - 2009
Now we reach my favorite! I had anticipated this version for months before I got the chance to watch it, hoping I would finally find an adaptation I would enjoy, and immediately fell in love with it. I love Romola as Emma! I know some people think she comes across too modern, with her facial expressions being a bit annoying, but she never bothered me at all. And Jonny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightley?! Oh my heart, he is most definitely my Mr. Knightley! ;D I loved him from his first scene, but where he cemented my love forever (well, for a long time anyway) is his delivery of that famous line, "If I loved you less, I could talk about it more." His speech in that scene just melts me every single time. And I love his gentleness and sweetness, as well as his fun banter with Emma, and the way we get to watch him realize that he's in love. *happy sigh* I LOVE this version! I've watched it umpteen times and will most likely watch it umpteen more. It just makes me happy! And I'm so glad that I can say I have a favorite version of Emma now. :)


Aisha (New Comedy Hindi Film / Bollywood Movie / Indian Cinema DVD)
Aisha - 2010
This is a movie from India based on Emma. I forget where I first heard about it, but was able to procure a copy and watch (with English subtitles, of course) and fall in love. Having never watched a Bollywood movie before, I wasn't sure what to expect, but it's quite a fun story. I'm sure there are things lost in translation, but the overall story is easy to follow and the two leads have really great chemistry. (Especially in a particularly adorable scene near the end! :) I love the music a great deal as well and, my extremely limited understanding of Bollywood movies notwithstanding, the music is an important part of the story. If you have the chance to watch it (and don't mind subtitles), I really recommend it! It's loads of fun.


Emma Approved - 2013
This is the youtube (and Pemberley Digital team from The Lizzy Bennet Diaries) modern retelling of the story. And it's adorable fun! In my opinion, obviously. :) The best thing about this version? The wonderful friendship between Alex and Emma. I loved that these two have this amazing friendship that they can count on. Love stories that begin as friendships are one of my favorite things! And these two? Oh my goodness, I dare you not to fall for these two! They just get each other, they are always, always there for each other, their friendship is just plain awesome, and when they finally realize their feelings...well. You should watch it, if you haven't already, because it's fabulous. It really, really is! :D


And there you have it! All the versions of Persuasion and Emma that I've watched. Have you watched any (or all?) of these? Which are your favorites? Tell me, tell me! And stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 to be coming soon. (Hopefully! :)



14 comments:

  1. Oh, I love this post! I have only seen the 2007 version of Persuasion, and, sorryyyy, but it's not really my favourite. I think I'd appreciate Persuasion more when I'm a bit older - I have noticed that it's a lot of people's favourite JA book, so I think I just don't 'get' it quite yet. (And really, Sally Hawkins as Anne annoys me a bit. I think I'd love Amanda Roots' much better. I like the Rupert-actor as Wentworth though! I can see why you like him. :-P)

    Emma, however, is one of my favourite ever Jane Austen stories. I agree!The 2009 version is PURE BLISS!!! I can never get enough of it. JOHNNY LEE MILLER IS THE BEST. I love him soooo much. :-)

    I've also seen the Gwenyth Paltrow and the Kate Beckinsale versions, but I agree with you on them completely. (The Mr Knightley in the Kate Beckinsale version. Ughhh. I cannot like him at all.) I'm pleased to hear someone who doesn't really love the Gwenyth Paltrow version! I felt rather lonely there. :-D

    And Emma Approved! I've seen that. I love it a lot. Snarky Knightley is the best. *Wink* That webseries REALLY is fabulous. I'm convinced it's the best webseries out there. :)

    ~ Naomi

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    1. Naomi: I'm glad you enjoyed the post since you helped inspire it! :) I understand completely you not really enjoying Persuasion. You may some day and then again you may not. I think I love it so well because I love Anne dearly. I connect with her and relate to her a great deal. We're a lot alike, so that helps. :) Some people love the 2007 version, some love the 1995 version, I just happen to be one who loves both for different reasons! (Also isn't Rupert VERY nice to watch onscreen?! Have you seen him in The 39 Steps? I rather liked him there as well. :)

      Oh yay! A fellow fan of the 2009 Emma! Isn't Jonny Lee Miller AMAZING?! I love his Mr. Knightley to the moon and back!

      I'm glad to know someone else to doesn't really love the Gwyneth Paltrow version either! There aren't very many of us, I'm afraid. So we must stick together!

      Snarky Knightley is AWESOME. Yay for Emma Approved! Clearly you and I have fabulous taste in common. :D

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  2. I LOVE the 2009 version of Emma! It is SO perfect! And even though the Wentworth is not quite as dashing, the 1995 version of Persuasion is my favorite. Another favorite adaptation is Northanger Abbey.

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    1. Kami: You do?! I'm so pleased to know that! I agree completely, the 2009 Emma is perfect indeed! :D

      Yes! Northanger Abbey is so wonderful. I'm assuming you're talking about the 2007 version, which I happen to love. Definitely planning to talk about it in a future post.

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  3. Great post Kara! I love both the 1995 and 2007 adaptations of Persuasion; the 2007 adaptation is aesthetically gorgeous (and I heart the soundtrack so much) and of course Rupert Penry-Jones is a wonderful Wentworth *le sigh* The 1995 adaptation had its wonderful moments too (I love that part after Anne read the letter, rushes out to meet Wentworth on the street and they walk arm in arm down the quiet street. Gorgeous moment there =D)

    For the longest time the 1996 adaptation of Emma was my favourite because Jeremy Northam was my Mr. Knightley =D but 2009 is much closer to the book and it's so pretty and the cast is so wonderful =) It's too bad the other 1996 adaptation with Kate Beckingsale was a bit =/ I love Mark Strong but his Mr. Knightley was rather terrifying! All grumpiness, no humour =( I admit, I smiled when you mentioned Emma Approved because it was such a cute webseries!

    Looking forward to your other posts/reviews Kara! =)

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    1. Thank, Lianne! :)

      Yes, so true. The 2007 Persuasion is beautifully shot and that soundtrack? Definitely one I listen to often. And Rupert of course. He's just.....yeah. That. ;) Yes!! That moment from the 1995 version is completely wonderful. They are so oblivious of all the noise and commotion around them and quietly walk off together. A very sweet moment for sure!

      So the 2009 version actually is closer to the book? There were such divided opinions on who liked it or didn't like it when it first came out that I wasn't sure how closely it tied in, or if they may have used a bit of creative license. But it's certainly a very pretty version. And my very clear favorite! :D

      Yes! I've since seen Mark Strong in other things and enjoyed him immensely, so it always disappoints me when I think back to his Mr. Knightley and how very much I didn't like him. If he'd been able to lighten him up a bit, maybe that would've helped. Who knows?

      We Emma Approved fans must unite! The cuteness was so fun, wasn't it? :)

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting! Jane Austen just makes me happy and I'm glad others like to chat about her stories as much as I.

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  4. Loved this post! My favourites you've mentioned are the 1995 Persuasion and the 2009 Emma, although my favourite ever Emma adaptation is probably 'Clueless'! And I hadn't heard of Aisha but I should probably try it - especially if it's anything like 'Bride and Prejudice' :)

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    1. Catherine: Clueless! I forgot about Clueless. I've seen that one as well, so thank you for reminding me about it! It's such a fun update on the story, isn't it? :)

      I love Aisha! And it definitely has similarities to Bride and Prejudice (which I love as well), but there's several differences too. For one, they don't speak in English at all, so hopefully it wouldn't bother you to use subtitles. And there are things that are mentioned that go over my head because I don't understand the context or the Indian culture very well. None of that bothered me though, so if you enjoyed B&P, I bet you'd like this one too. It's definitely a favorite of mine!

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! It's nice to meet another Austen fan. :)

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  5. Great post, Kara! I'm looking forward to seeing the next posts about this. Nice to see you also include Aisha, I really liked that one. Much better than the Bollywood version of Sense and Sensibility (Kandukondain kandukondain), have you seen that one? That was just a bit weird...

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    1. Thanks, Birdie! And yay for someone else who's seen Aisha! It's one of my faves, but I know it's difficult to find copies (at least here in the States it is). I'm so glad you enjoyed it as well! I have not seen that version of S&S actually. But sounds like I shouldn't make the effort to find a copy. It does make sense that Bollywood versions could be hit and miss. Have they remade any others, do you know?

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    2. I don't think there are other Bollywood Austen adaptations. Well, apart from Bride&Prjeudice ofcourse, but that's a given!

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    3. Yes, that's definitely a given! :) Thanks for the info, Birdie.

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  6. Persuasion: Can I just say I agree with you on all points!!?? I haven't seen the 1971 version, but it doesn't sound like I'm missing anything. If we could just combine the best parts of the 95 & 07, it might be close to perfect: RPJ, Amanda Root, the Crofts from 95, the music from 07. Maybe someday we'll get our perfect adaptation!

    Emma: "He's not my Mr. Knightley, but I can appreciate his good qualities nonetheless" I see what you did there!!! I have to say, the Gwyneth Emma is not my favorite, either. I find her annoying in that role (though I love her in other films, oddly enough).

    The 2009 is by far my favorite! I haven't seen the 1996 w/Kate & Mark. I do have a hard time imagining him as Knightley because he usually plays a darker role. If I remember correctly, the 2009 more closely follows the book.

    I'm looking forward to your next Austen Adaptation posts!

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    1. Courtney: You may! The 1971 version, you really aren't missing anything. And yes, here's to hoping we get our perfect adaptation some day!!! *dreaming and hoping* :)

      Ha! I'm glad you noticed! I wondered if anyone would... ;D Yes. I find Gwyneth annoying as well! I'm so glad someone else agrees with me on that! I also agree that I love her in other movies. Have you ever seen Possession? I love her in that one a lot!

      YAY for the 2009 Emma! Several people have mentioned that this version follows the book really closely, which just makes me happy. Perhaps that's another reason I couldn't love the others as much? Hmmm. :) Yes, Mark does tend to play a lot of villain roles, doesn't he? Emma was the first thing I saw him in, but he just doesn't have the swoony part down yet. Maybe there's some other movie he's been in that would change my mind? He's not terrible, but I just didn't enjoy his Knightley at all.

      Hoping to get the next post finished up soon! :)

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