EMMA 2009 - You will not ask me my secret? Yes, you're wise but I cannot be... So, I must tell you...

The blogosphere, or at  least many of the blogs I regularly follow, are full of reviews, slides and beautiful pictures of BBC Emma 2009.  It's too great a temptation to me, I can't resist. I must confess. Just like Mr Knightley's, my secret, too, must come out in the end.
I've longed to see it and wished it so thoroughly that a good little fairy has made my dream come true! Did she have a magic wand? Maybe.
So...I saw the four episodes, enjoyed the crescendo of emotions and came, at last, to such a gratifying finale  ... you can't imagine what joy it gave me. I'd had mixed feelings half-way down, I mean, after the first two episodes but , the third one, with the incandescent ball scene, and the last one with its touching -  incredibly still touching,  despite my having read the novel several times and having watched all the adaptations available in English - finale have knocked my doubts out.

While I immediately loved or liked, Romola Garai as Emma, Michael Gambon as Mr Woodhouse, Tamsin Greig as Miss Bates, I had an awkward sensation at recognizing My Mr Knightley in Jonny Lee Miller, My Frank Churchill in Rupert Evans and  My Jane Fairfax in Laura Pyper. My greatest perplexity was just Mr Knightley. But, do you know what happens when love is not at first sight ...You suddenly start seeing an old friend as beautiful, generous, extraordinary and see him/her as if it was the first time? Something like what happens to Emma. Something like that  happened to me. And little by little I came to appreciate JLM's Knightley. Much, indeed. He won my resistence with his mild, tender, benevolent George Knightley. Was it one of Sandy Welch's liberties from Austen? Wasn't Jane's  Mr Knightley a surly old friend, ready to scold and reprimand young Emma? Might be, but I decided I wanted to look for clues in the text. And here's George Knightley in Jane Austen's words:

                                                                                Excerpt 1.

Emma: “What a comfort it is, that we think alike about our nephews and nieces. As to men and women, our opinions are sometimes very different; but with regard to these children, I observe we never disagree.”

Mr. Knightley: “If you were as much guided by nature in your estimate of men and women, and as little under the power of fancy and whim in your dealings with them, as you are where these children are concerned, we might always think alike.”

Emma: “To be sure—our discordancies must always arise from my being in the wrong.”

Mr. Knightley: “Yes,” said he, smiling—”and reason good. I was sixteen years old when you were born.”

Emma: “A material difference then,” she replied—”and no doubt you were much my superior in judgment at that period of our lives; but does not the lapse of one-and-twenty years bring our understandings a good deal nearer?”

Mr. Knightley: “Yes—a good deal nearer.”

Emma: “But still, not near enough to give me a chance of being right, if we think differently.”

Mr. Knightley: “I have still the advantage of you by sixteen years’ experience, and by not being a pretty young woman and a spoiled child. Come, my dear Emma, let us be friends and say no more about it. Tell your aunt, little Emma, that she ought to set you a better example than to be renewing old grievances, and that if she were not wrong before, she is now.” ( from Chapter 7)

                                                                                       Excerpt 2.

“My dearest Emma,” said he, “for dearest you will always be, whatever the event of this hour’s conversation, my dearest, most beloved Emma—tell me at once. Say ‘No,’ if it is to be said.”—She could really say nothing.—”You are silent,” he cried, with great animation; “absolutely silent! at present I ask no more.”

Emma was almost ready to sink under the agitation of this moment. The dread of being awakened from the happiest dream, was perhaps the most prominent feeling.

“I cannot make speeches, Emma:”—he soon resumed; and in a tone of such sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness as was tolerably convincing.—”If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am.—You hear nothing but truth from me.—I have blamed you, and lectured you, and you have borne it as no other woman in England would have borne it.—Bear with the truths I would tell you now, dearest Emma, as well as you have borne with them. The manner, perhaps, may have as little to recommend them. God knows, I have been a very indifferent lover.—But you understand me.—Yes, you see, you understand my feelings—and will return them if you can. At present, I ask only to hear, once to hear your voice.”

Isn't he loving, caring, gentle? Just like JLM's George Knightley.
Have you noticed? The script for the proposal in 2009 adaptation was not so distant from the original text and Romola and Jonny delivered their lines with such deep involvement: she was wonderfully good , from fear to desperation, from hope to joy to heaven. And he... he was so anxious he could hardly breathe, so nervous and agitated he could hardly move, so uncertain of her response that he looked so pale and his eyes seemed wet with tears (especially when he said "I cannot make speeches.. .if I loved you less, I might have been able to talk about it more...")
Last summer, while on holiday, I had a long watching marathon with all the Emma adaptations I have in my DVD collection: 1972, 2006 ITV and 2006 the movie. I wrote and posted about it ( for my EVERYTHING AUSTEN CHALLENGE) and added the clips of the three different proposal scenes. I , then,  asked : Which is your favourite one? Who's your favourite Mr Knightley?  If you don't remember, CLICK HERE , read and watch. But before deciding how to answer, have a look at THIS CLIP from Emma 2009...

Now, tell me... Which is your favourite scene? Who's your favourite Knightley?
If you haven't changed your mind, never mind. I DID.


Anonymous said...

I haven't yet seen this latest adaptation, which will air here early next year, so it would be unfair to choose...

You make an excellent point about slowly learning to love JLM as Knightley. I look forward to making his better acquaintance!

Elvira said...

I think I'll choose Mark Strong, but this Emma is very good!!

Greetings, Maria Grazia!

Anonymous said...

So glad you have seen it, Maria, and totally agree - I especially like this comment: "But, do you know what happens when love is not at first sight ...You suddenly start seeing an old friend as beautiful, generous, extraordinary and see him/her as if it was the first time?"
I also learned to love Jonny Lee Miller's interpretation of the role as I watched. I don't remember the other versions well enough to say which one is my favourite, but I'm planning to rewatch them.:)Judy

Luciana said...

Well, I've not seeing this Emma version yet. I've only seen the proposal scene and it became instantly my favourite version. I'm very inclined to say that JLM is going to be my favourite Knightley, but I'll watch everything first. You made me re-start reading "Emma" because of this scene! I'll watch it as soon as I re-read it!

mulubinba said...

I haven't seen this yet but have just spent a very enjoyable few minutes watching your YT segments on 2009 Emma and then the Jeremy Northam/Gwenneth Paltrow version. I haven't seen the others to make a comparison between Knightleys ... I think I may have to hunt out all the DVDs! I can't make up my mind yet.

Maria Grazia said...

@Deleilan,Elvira, costumedramas, Luciana, mulubinba
Thank you all for being always so kind and finding some time to drop by and comment. I hope those of you who haven't watched it yet, will be able to see this Emma adaptation soon. It deserves to be seen!

Cristina said...

Lovely review!

Maria Grazia said...

Gracias! I'm glad you liked it.

Pepper said...

Wasn't it splendid!! I still dont' know if JML can compete with my fav, Jeremy Northam, but he certainly comes close. As I placed in my post, I adored this adaptation because it truly developed the friendship between Emma and Knightley. I appreciated that above all the other adaptations I have seen - and my DVD library holds quite a few as well. :-)

Oh dear, Mr. Knightley is my favorite Austen hero of them all and JLM held up his part in this 2009 adaptation.

Splendid...and I just finished watching it AGAIN! :-)

Maria Grazia said...

@Pepper Basham
You're right, Pepper. This is definitely my favourite adaptation. Sandy Welch did a splendid job and, as I have already said, JLM took some time to be accepted as Mr Knighley, but eventually he definitely conquesred my heart! Thanks for commenting!

Katherine said...

I love JLM as Mr. Knightley but I also really liked Mark Strong's portrayal. In fact I think both adaptation are tied as my favorite.

Chandra said...

I've only seen the first half of the film and I love what I've seen so far! I can't wait for the next two parts to air! I think Garai is much better suited to the part than Paltrow. I never did see Kate Beckinsale, but I have a hard time imagining it. I did love Northam as Knightly and had a hard time imagining anyone else in the role, but I agree with you that JLM does grow on you!

Kate Gorman said...

If I was stuck on a desert island, I would take the 2009 adaptation of Emma as it is my favourite! I think Johnny Lee Miller and Romola Garai are perfect as Emma and Mr. Knightley! Johnny is very handsome and Romola is very pretty.

Some of my favourite scenes are;

The Dance

The Proposal

The conversation on the bench

When Emma says she cannot marry Mr. Knightly and he comforts her in a tender, loving way. Aww! The ending is perfect!

I also love the costumes in this adaptation. Everything about Emma is lovely. I enjoyed this version so much I read the novel which is great too. I also love the part where Mr. Knightly holds Emma's hand when they go talk to her father it is nice because Emma is very worried and Mr. Knightly is comforting her again. Why can't all men be like an Jane Austen hero? Sigh....

Anonymous said...

I've just found this site and I have to say I really like it, I think I'll come back :)

talking about this version of 'Emma', I think it's very well done. I saw the 1972 BBC adaptation and the two made in 1996, and I couldn't come to terms with both Emma and Mr Knightley; it was especially his character that was, in my opinion, "wrong", something was missing in all the three of them. Now I've seen this last version, I know what it was: those Knightleys were too "old inside", too father-like; I always imagined Mr Knightley to be first of all a true friend for Emma, someone who was of course there to point out her faults but also to sweetly support her; someone good-hearted, charming, generous; I found it all in this adaptation; in my opinion the 2009 one IS the perfect Mr Knightley...

And the 2009 one IS the perfect Emma, the actress has done a wonderful job! Her Emma's pretty, vivacious, sweet, stubborn, generous, petulant, and in the end she's lovely...

There are many scenes I liked; for example Miss Bates' letter-time when Emma is younger; Emma and Knightley's quarrel after Harriet refusal; the two of them with baby Emma; John Knightley teasing Emma for Elton's attentions; the party at the Coles'; and of course the ball and the proposal scenes..

very, very well done!