Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Emma (BBC 1972)

I really enjoy the adaptations of Jane Austen's novels and having watched Gwyneth Paltrow's and Kate Beckinsale's Emmas in the past I couldn't pass up the opportunity to watch this Emma filmed in 1972 when it presented itself.

I have read opinions from other viewers, that this is the version that most resembles the book. I am sorry to say that although I had planned to read the book before watching it I ended up not doing that and so I can't really comment on that. What struck me as worse than the other two versions from the beginning was the light - both in indood and outdoor scenes the light seems too white and gives the scenes an artificial look.

It was at first also a bit difficult to get used to both Emma and Mr Knightley as both of them look a lot older than the characters they are portraying. The actress, Doran Godwin,has a certain rigidity that doesn't favour her nor endears her. I think she never really captures Emma's spirit, she lacks energy and playfulness and this Emma is not really likeable as she should be. Mr Knightley, John Carson, seems at first also too sober to eventually enchant a young girl, he looks too serious and while I must confess though that he grew on me and by the end I was cheering up for him I never did see any chemistry between those two.

Who I felt was spot on is Harriet Smith, she looks exactly like a sweet and naive girl who doesn't have a bad bone in her body and is always looking to please. The same with Mr Woodhouse, his slim build is just perfect for the anxious man he is, always worrying about everything. I also really enjoyed Mrs Elton and instead of irritating I ended up finding her really amusing with her outspoken conversation and her superior airs.

In the end I would say this series is recommended to Austen fans but mostly those who so love the books that they want to see every adaptation made. My favourite Emma is still Beckinsale's!

This is my first entry for the Everything Austen and Period Drama Challenges (category Bonnets and Hessians)


  1. I haven't seen this one- but for me, I'll definitely wait to read the book first. I've chosen to read Emma for the Everything Austen Challenge and I really look forward to it. Thanks:)

  2. I haven't seen this older version, but maybe I should for comparison!

  3. In EMMA 1972, the style of filming - camera distance, fixity, length of scenes, costumes, lights - is very old-fashioned. Quite far from what we are used to nowadays. In these I'm just working on my next task for the Everything Austen Challenge (have a look at my list) and I've been rewatching the three different adaptations of Emma I own in my DVD collection. I also want to re-read part of the novel. My favourite adaptation is ITV 1996 with Mark Strong as Mr Knightley , though I pretty like the version for the big screen with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam.
    My review of the comparative watching will be posted in August.

  4. Maria Grazia that's my favourite adaptation too! I'm looking forward to see what you have to say on the 3 series.

    I just posted this review today at Lights Camera History :-)


I love to chat about books and stuff and I would love to hear from like minded readers. Please do leave me a comment :-)


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