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:
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)
“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.