Sunday, 23 March 2008
Emma on Masterpiece Theatre
I really resisted seeing this version of Emma, starring Kate Beckinsale and Mark Strong. I was wrong. From the opening scenes, Kate makes the perfect Emma - young, full of pride, with a sweetness and playful spirit that redeems her from the same disdain that Darcy exhibits (or appears to) in Pride and Prejudice. I own the Gwyneth Paltrow version of Emma, and I have to admit that I much prefer Jeremy Northam as Knightley. Not that Mark Strong is a bad Knightley, but I found his hair distracting! it was odd and lanky, making him appear balding, and I found distracted from the actor's performance, which was really good. Which is too bad, because he did have chemistry with Kate Beckinsale. Now, if Jeremy Northam had played opposite Kate Beckinsale, I think the screen might have burned up! I found I preferred this production than Gwyneth Paltrow's;I'm not sure why. I think it has to do with the refined tone of the production - the Paltrow version in comparison is showy to this one. The casting was perfect except for the men; Samantha Morton as Harriet Smith, and Olivia Williams as Jane Fairfax were really outstanding. I prefer Ewan MacGregor as Frank Churchill (from Paltrow version), than Ray Coulthard in this one, but this I think is because Ray didn't bring the same intensity and charisma that MacGregor did, and Frank Churchill has to have in order to blind everyone to his love for Jane Fairfax. So, the casting of the men wasn't quite up to normal Austen production standards, but otherwise, I was delighted by this version. I found myself laughing and smiling, enjoying the mistakes Emma makes as she tries to play cupid, the quiet scenes at home, and the slow realization that she does love someone after all. I winced when Emma slights Miss Bate so awfully at the picnic, and I really enjoyed seeing Frank's family try to set her and Frank up, and as always, Mr Knightley's reproaches to Emma for her behaviour are both deserved and reveal long before either character does, the depth to which they know, care, and have expectations for one another. This was a very pleasing production. If you haven't seen it, do try if you get a chance. I think I might want to buy this version and prefer it (except for the aforesaid missing Jeremy Northam) to the Gwyneth Paltrow version.
I have a feeling, from seeing the clips of the upcoming Sense and Sensibility, that I am going to find this production very different from the Emma Thompson one, which I own. I'm not sure which actors I prefer in which version, and I have to confess that I have always liked Colonel Brandon very much, and indeed, in the clips for next week's BBC production on Masterpiece Theatre, I might prefer the actor playing Colonel Brandon....
Question: So, I thought, I would put out a little question to everyone who has been watching the PBS Masterpiece Theatre Jane Austen series: which actors in which roles do you prefer? They can be any men in any Jane Austen production. Drop me a line and let me know, and I'll post the results when the series of over (next week, I believe, with Sense and Sensibility).
My choices (most of you can guess who they are already!):
Mr Darcy (Pride and Prejudice): Colin Firth
Mr Knightley (Emma) : Jeremy Northam
Henry Tillman (Northanger Abbey): JJ Feild
Captain Wentworth (Persuasion): Rupert Penry-Jones
I have to confess to a slight problem with Sense and Sensibility: I've always liked both Edward and Colonel Brandon, and in the Emma Thompson production, I like both Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman. I've always thought Colonel Brandon deserved better than second choice with Marianne. As I said above, I think from the previews I already like David Morrissey as Colonel Brandon:
and Dan Stevens as Edward might just do:
So, I will let you know next week if I prefer Alan Rickman or David Morrissey in the Colonel Brandon role, and Hugh Grant or Dan Stevens as Edward Ferrars. *sigh* choices, choices.......and I hope you enjoyed the pictures, just to remind us of why we love these men so much!!! Meanwhile, I hope you enjoyed Emma tonight, if you saw it.