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“Emma”(BBC) (Mini-Series)
Wayne Klein
Studio: BBC/Warner
Release Date:
Special Features:

(4) Production Featurettes


Jane Austin’s novel EMMA has gone through numerous adaptations over the years with varying results. The latest from the BBC has its moments but as with all adaptations that have been done over the years also has its flaws. ***

Adapted by Sandy Welch (who also did the excellent “Jane Eyre” and “North and South”) and directed by Jim O’Hanlon, “Emma” focuses on the title character played by Romola Garai (best knonw for “Atonement”). As with most of Austin’s main characters she is a child of wealth and privilege. Emma clings to optimism even in the face of tragedy such as her mother dying giving birth to her and Emma’s father (Michael Gambon) who has become reclusive finding comfort only in OCD type behavior. Emma believes her lot in life is to bring happiness to others as a matchmaker and she starts to work with Mr. Elton (Blake Ritson) and the new governess Harriet Smith (Louise Dylan). The problem is that Emma can only see her plans not the possible consequences of her plans and that’s where things go awry for her and everyone she comes into contact with. ***

As with all BBC shows the production values are top notch throughout and the direction by O’Hanlon brings a nice breezy pacing to the series. The actors are terrific throughout. If there is any flaw with “Emma” it’s the familiarity of the plot and some of the performances which fail to catch fire as they should here. Still, overall, the cast does a fine job with the material. ---

Image & Sound:

A more recent BBC production, “Emma” looks quite nice with lush colors and detail. There are digital artifacts such as edge enhancement that crop up and some mosquito noise that crop up now and again but on the whole the visual part of “Emma” is quite pleasing. ***

Audio sounds terrific with dialogue front, center and clear. ---

Special Features:

We get four very good featurettes on the making of the series. “Emma’s Locations” details the real locations that were often used and the recreation of others that no longer exist. “Emma’s Costumes” and “Music” focus on giving us a behind-the-scenes glimpses into their creation. “Emma’s Mr. Woodhouse” features the terrific Michael Gambon in a one-on-one interview discussing his role in the film. It also allows us to hear about Gambon’s career from his beginning working with the late Laurence Olivier to his later projects such as the classic TV series “The Singing Detective”.

Final Words:

“Emma” is affine adaptation of Austin’s novel and almost all the elements work perfectly. The extras give us a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the production. The only thing missing is a strong commentary track.


Copyright @ Teakwood Productions 2000
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