Sorry we’re late with posting this, but we were on vacation! So, Gentle Readers in the UK–what did you think of Episode 3? Did you watch Episode 3?
Sorry we’re late with posting this, but we were on vacation! So, Gentle Readers in the UK–what did you think of Episode 3? Did you watch Episode 3?
94 thoughts on “Emma 2009 Episode 3”
Yes, I watched episode three. Over all there are some parts I love and some parts I dislike. Besides the modern mannerisms the biggest fault is probably the script. There are sections of the novel that most of us can quote at least tolerably well and those seem to be missing. Even though they are missing, I can tell the script writer has combed the novel with a fine-tooth comb because she keeps inserting tiny details that are in the book, but I had forgotten them. On a re-read of the novel I see that the script writer is correct in making Mrs. Elton first show up in church; having Mr. Elton comment about the sheepskin being used in the carriage; having Emma and Harriet read in their books and not get past the second page; the conversation where Isabella says she will get out and walk in the snow if she has to and John saying she won’t in those shoes. Things like that keep showing up over and over again. I almost get the impression that Sandy Welch said, “Let’s watch all the previous adaptations, note what lines and scenes from the book they used and use other parts not adapted previously instead.” OK, it’s not quite like that, but kind of. Oh, by the way, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh! None of us can forgive Ms. Welch for not including the brother and sister line at the Crown Ball!:( That’s probably the most famous line from Emma. That’s like not including, “She’s tolerable, I suppose, but not handsome enought to tempt me!”, line from P&P! They have the before lines, but not those. Someone on IMDB said she was waiting for that line and just about spit out her tea when it was never said! Some others were threatening to throw things at their screens.
Anyway, one thing I do like about this adaptation is that they are really playing up the fact that Emma has never been anywhere out of Highbury. She’s pretty content, but is starting to realize that she might be missing something. I’m hoping they will end the series with Knightley and Emma at the seaside for their honeymoon. Also, I really like the Eltons. Both of them are wonderfully cast. I’m so glad they’ve finally gotten a young Mrs. Elton. Nowhere in the book does it say Mrs. Elton is 40. Why wouldn’t Mrs. Elton be twenty-two or three when Mr. Elton is only twenty-seven? It really changes her comments when one thinks of her that young.
Mr. Knightley is not my perfect Mr. Knightley, but he’s improving greatly with each episode. Emma is good,but probably should be a little more ladylike. I would love to have seen this film without the modern mannerisms being added/allowed.
This film is definitely all about Emma and Knightley. Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill just breeze in and out of scenes. One hardly gets to try to figure them out. Jane has had a personality change. Nowhere do we see a reserved individual. She always has this appearance of being half frightened and half looks of covering up a secret and trying to contain a smile or laugh. It’s kind of a smug sparkle along with tears.
Emma and Knightley’s dance was wonderful.
I loved it immensely – I have no reservations about it this time. So much so that I am proud to say I cried happy tears in the middle of the computer lab at my school when Emma and Mr. Knightley danced.
With much surprise I have to admit that I liked Episode Three much better than the first two.
I think with the series going forward, Emma becomes more serious character.
Here are two video clips from Episode 3. The first one shows dancing scenes at the village ball where some old married men are not sure wehter or not to dance, othes perform beautiful dances. The second one shows the final scene where Mr. Knightley in a conversation with Emma suspects Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax to be secretly in love but Emma rebuffs the suggestion.
I’m officially loving the series so far, and can’t wait for the final installment.
This was actually quite a good episode, definitely the best so far. Sylvia M’s comment about Mrs Elton probably being quite young was a good catch – I think we probably think her older because that’s the way how she has been portrayed in the past adaptations. The only thing that really bugged me was the dance scene – Elton didn’t snub Harriet quite so forcibly as I would have thought of, and her sitting down for the dance when Jane Fairfax was sitting as well not quite as poignant. And also, what did they mean by leaving out the line about brother and sister?!? Grrr. Plus it’s really quite obvious by now that Mr Knightley is in love with Emma – how isn’t anyone in the series’ universe not seeing such blatantly obvious thing?
Plus the costumes are great!
I was also bothered by the “brother and sister”-line been left out, but I guess they found it too difficult to explain why it would be “improper”.
And Emma and Knightley are past the stage of “brother and sister” anyway by now, in this adaption.
Not an excuse of course, just a possible explanation.
I like Mrs. Elton, Harriet, and I like Frank Churchill (even though the script is trying its best to bring out the Willoughby in him). However, I’d have to add Jane Fairfax to the list of barely recognizable characters. Ms. Fairfax appears to have gone heavily to the manic depressive side.
After three episodes for me the overwhelming impression is that Welch and the director have diluted too much of the wit and satire of the original, replacing it with a paler, pseudo-Regency bit of fanfic heavy on the Pathos. And I’m finding the script so heavy-handed at times. How often do we have to be told that Emma’s never left Highbury–we get it, we really do! How much foreshadowing do we need to tell us that Box Hill Will Be Very Important?
Too often, I miss Austen’s biting humor. (Hello? Mrs. Elton, puppies?) And why they chose to drop the brother-sister lines is beyond me. In that small bit of dialogue, Austen sums up elegantly everything we need to know about Emma and Knightley at that point in the story –and does it with an understatement lacking in this script. (But I think Julia’s @6 is absolutely right.)
It’s undeniably a pretty production. I love the scenes in Highbury itself, I wish I could go into Ford’s. I also like the fact that Welch used some material not dramatized in other Emmas. But in an adaptation that is heavily The Emma and Knightley Show as Sylvia M. alluded above, the fact that the character of Emma is so off the mark for me ruins my enjoyment. I just cannot get past Garai’s constant grins, facial gymnastics and her overall giddiness. Emma is my second favorite character after Anne Elliot and I can’t stand what she’s doing with her.
And call it snobbery if you will (don’t get your knickers so in a knot C19-ers!), but when I watch period drama I want the period, not just people dressed up in fancy costume. I can watch contemporary crap on TV any time 😉
Surprisingly, I’m liking JLM much better than Romola, even though physically he just does not fit my Knightley’s boots. I have to say he came into his own especially in the second half of the 3rd episode, out acting Garai by a mile and managing it with the subtlety I find missing in her performance. We’ll what he does with Box Hill.
While Mark Strong was perhaps the only actor cast as Knightley who posessed Knightley’s commanding physical stature, I’ve always preferred Northham’s softer portrayal. While JLM may not be hitting it out of the park for me, he’s outshining Garai at every turn. If Garai can just contain her grins and boggle eyes and if Welsh doesn’t leave out any more iconic lines, I might enjoy episode 4 thanks to JLM.
Would anyone know the piece of music that was used during Emma and Mr Knightly’s dance? It was a beautiful cello piece and Emma played it in the next scene on her panio. I’d love to find it.
I believe it’s a variation of the Emma theme for this adaptation. Please correct me if I’m wrong.
I’d like to know what the second dance was. I can’t make out what Mrs Elton is saying. It sounds a little like Ships Court 😉
It was actually The Ship’s Cook – you will have noticed it had a rather nautical flavour with shades of the Sailors Hornpipe in it.
I would agree with the opinion that it’s a variation on the series theme, and also agree that it’s quite lovely. Can anyone catch what is in front of the “Market” that Mrs. Elton calls out?
I thought it was something Market too, but after looking for two solid days on the internet for i, I couldn nt find it. I think it is a kind of ‘Maggot’. It sounds the same as ‘Market’ but probably findable. I haven’t found it yet because I didn’t get the first bit and they are usually called aftr someone like the on Lizzy and Darcy dance to: ‘Mr Beveridge’s Magot’. The one Knightley and Emma dance to is also something unidentifiable like a Maggot so I suppose that’s it. Does anyone know ‘Jenny’s Maggot’? I thought I heard that, but I’m not sure. The first dance anyway was ‘The Twon Square’. If that xists.
While this was by far the best of the three, in many ways it was also the most frustrating. The miramax film had the “dear diary” method of demonstrating emmas thoughts, and utilized quick cuts from one scene to the next to highlight the great satirical moments/characters. Andrew Davies dramatized Emma’s fantasies. This version is all over the map: Emma is wandering around talking to her self, we can sometimes hear what she’s thinking, but also we are seeing her fantasies (delusions?) dramatized a la Davies. Also, we caught a glimpse of Mr. Knightley thinking about Emma (almost like Davies’ Darcy). Quick cuts to Mrs. Elton being ridiculous, but not as well done as the Miramax film or nearly as comical. Stylistically, this adaptation doesn’t seem to have been able to pick a method of storytelling and stick with it.
There needs to have been more thought put into what should be revealed to the audience and when! Should we have seen Mr. Knightley daydreaming about his dance with Emma? Should we know that he loves her yet, or just suspect? Will there be any tension when we discover Harriet thinks he returns her feelings is we know (not just guess) he loves Emma?
I absolutely agree with you about the inconsistent methods of storytelling here. Why do we hear Emma’s thoughts in one scene, and not in at least some other scenes? Why don’t we hear other character’s thoughts?
It’s lazy writing, plain and simple.
Well, I think they put Emma’s thoughts in those scenes because the book does have Emma thinking about and analyzing her realtionship with Frank. It makes sense to me. I don’t think there are that many people in the book that actually have their thoughts written out on the page not in narrator form. Mr. Knightley does a little bit, but the others, no.
I’ve yet to see this episode, but there is some other news about this miniseries and perhaps some of you already know it.
PBS has announced the dates for the US broacast (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/emma/). It says Premiering January 24-February 7, 2010 on Masterpiece.
I find that schedule quite intriguing, since that means 3 Sundays (Sunday 24, Sunday 31 in January and Sunday 7 in February), not 2 (Sunday 24 and 31 or Sunday 31 and 7), for an almost 4 hour miniseries (one would have expected 2 hours per Sunday). Therefore I also wonder how the episodes will be divided for the broadcast or perhaps there will be no broadcast on Sunday 31.
That schedule also leave us room to speculate the region 1 DVD release date, which could be the Tuesday after the last episode is broadcasted (Tuesday 9 February, perhaps) or later. And also the question about which company will release the DVD, if it is BBC there is a high probability that it will have the complete version no matter how much PBS cuts in the broadcast. However, if it is WGBH, the odds are for a cut version :(.
Sorry about the bad link. Here it is:
Quick hint… you can watch it on youku.com. Most of the episodes have chinese subtitles, but I can live with that… so that I can watch the mini-series. Hope that this helps!
I didn’t mind them leaving out the ‘iconic’ line of “brother & sister”. And how could I? The way it was presented was even better without it, I thought. JLM/Garai might just be my favourite Knightley/Emma.
Mags, I was on vacation too!
I’m looking forward to see this tv series!
I didn’t enjoy the first episode at all. But this production has grown on me and now I truly love it. Garai is a long time favourite of mine and I love her as Emma- it took me a while to get used to her but her character has matured throughout the episodes. I admit I didn’t like JLM but this last episode sold me, the dance scene was beautiful (I too also want to know the music!) I dont think it matters certain parts of the text are missing, it is only adaptation of Austen’s work, Im sure she would love and enjoy all the different versions out there. The costumes are stunning, particularly Emma’s wardrobe. Cannot wait for next week. 😀
I particularly enjoyed the dance between Emma and Mr Knightley – great choreography – the hand holding becoming an almost-embrace illustrated the changing relationship between the two characters beautifully. For me the whole scene explained how Emma begins to feel attracted to Mr Knightley, which has been a sticking point for other adaptations. Lovely understated acting from both Romola Garai (finally!) and JLM. And JLM is proving to be a surprisingly Mr Knightley – great to see a new slant on the character that still fits with the Austen novel, not paternalistic, and feels young enough to be a plausible match for Emma.
Now that it’s not quite so late, I thought I’d leave WHY I’m loving this.
1) Garai, in my opinion, is perfect. She is the most charming Emma I’ve seen, equal to her modern counterpart Cher Horowitz, and I can truly believe that her loved ones view her as “faultless in spite of her faults”. She has the enthusiasm, the headstrong enthusiasm of a spoiled, cloistered youth, and in that enthusiasm conveys such core goodness that we must ultimately love and forgive her even as we wish better of her actions.
2) Johnny Lee Miller. I admit, in the first part I was… not disappointed, but not quite impressed by his Mr. Knightley, but he has grown on me so entirely that I can’t even think of another Mr. Knightley as I pick up the book for the 18th time. He is stern and critical of Emma when he needs to be, but in this adaptation you can actually understand how on Earth they are still fond of each other.
(Actually, the entire cast makes me feel this way! Elton grew on me after an initial distaste, and I find Mrs. Elton, Jane and Frank to be perfection. Mr. Weston is so sweet, and Mrs. Weston and Miss Bates are making their characters more interesting than I had previously found them – while Miss Bates is very funny, I’ve never actually felt for her before while still understanding Emma’s frustration.)
3) I very much like the experimentation with this presentation. Taking different passages out of the book (hilarious in their awkwardness), having Mr. Woodhouse’s anxious tendencies become even more ridiculous when contrasted with a relatively healthy looking physique, the earnestness of the modern gestures. Also, while I understand WHY the “brother and sister” line exists, quite frankly I am happy it is gone. This is an adaptation for a modern audience, and while I am such a nerd for 18th and 19th century literature, even I find that line uncomfortable somehow when spoken aloud. Even when the modern gestures may feel a little weird to a nerd already familiar with the traditional body language, they capture something of the spirit of the novel, and I like that this production wasn’t afraid to take chances instead of blindly following where all ye olde period pieces have gone before.
4) THAT DANCE SCENE wow wow wow. Such emotion in the faces of those involved! The growing, soft intimacy of the steps themselves, and how they seem to be twining the characters together… Just well done on all sides.
5) Harriet is adorable, and I never really actually like Harriet.
I am just so so so happy that an adaptation finally FEELS like Emma felt when I first read it… sprightly, but with an undercurrent of concern, a bit of the serious tucked in the small shadows cast by the comedy and energy of it all.
I think the problem with this adaptation is that people find it too ‘modern’. As you said, more 1990s California girl Cher than 1800s Highbury Emma. Though people will undoubtedly not appreciate the adaptation of an adaptation of Emma, I DO. I like Romola Garai as Emma far more than either Paltrow and Beckinsale (though Kate was pretty good) because she is exactly as I imagine a twenty or twenty-one year old who not particularly silly or wise (yet) would act. I’m fairly certain that girls haven’t changed much in two hundred years (a good or bad thing, who knows?). Frankly, it sits well with me that I can get excited and even surprised by a story I’ve known since grade school.
JLM has grown on me as well. I’m glad that I don’t see Mansfield Park’s Edmund in him a bit. Though I think I may just prefer Jeremy Northam’s portrayal a bit more, JLM hits the country squire notes much, much better than Northam. I like everyone in the cast except Jane Fairfax. I can’t explain WHY exactly, but Jane seems she is ten minutes and a letter away from doing a Carrie and drenching an entire Assembly in pig’s blood. Creepy.
I’m game for the fourth episode and would even have appreciated a fifth.
This is exactly how I feel- it is the first time you actually begin to understand WHY Emma and Knightly start to fall for one another- in previous adaptations you cant really understand it. JLM is stern with her and tells her off, but there is a playfulness between them. Im particularly enjoying the scenes between them that show how strong their friendship is, such as him giving her the book, her asking at the end if he is staying for dinner- it is an important element and missing in other productions I have seen. They have a closeness as friends here, which at that breathtaking dance, is beginning to grow into something more. I really felt Garai beginning to see him in a different light during this scene and loved the shy secret smiles they gave one another. Amazing acting on Garai’s part, which followed nicely to the next scene where she is daydreaming about it, almost without realizing it.
So its a more modern adaptation- I don’t find that is always such a bad thing. Loved it.
Well, I personally love the previous TV adaptation, and I thought it had a nice portrayal of the romance between the pair – but I do think the added length has given this adaptation room for their actors to really shine in this aspect.
In the listing of the JA novels, Emma has been my least favorite. Until now that is.
The cast is charming, RG and JML are well matched as Emma and Mr. Knightly.
The supporting cast is well chosen and I am happy with the pace of the story.
Overall, it was well done and I look forward to the 4th installment.
I love it when a film does that – that happened with the latest S&S and NA for me!
I like it better and better.
I feel like Emma and Jane could be friends after the end of the series, though I always thought the Olivia Williams/Kate B match was the best yet – Olivia being a bit older and more elegant. And though a bit out of the book, it was nice to see Emma support Jane in telling Mrs. Elton off.
I agree with Kari, that it lacks a lot of the satire. I’m not much of a fan of the Paltrow-version, but the editing in that one was very good when it came to the humor.
Emmas face when she enters the ballroom is very sweet – it seems like she’s never been at a real ball. As a lot of other people, this adaption have grown on me – the ball scene being the turn point:) And what’s the point of doing another adaption, if you don’t have a new take on it?
Agreed, I’d love to have a 4-hour miniseries so closely to the book, the time period and the manners as P&P95 or the new S&S, because the characters gets more space, and there’s room for all the tiny details, and that Emma will be worth waiting for.
In the meantime, this Emma will do for me – I’ve always liked JLM, and he is pretty close to what I think Mr. Knightley should be. And, as other’s have stated, THIS Emma and Knightley seems to fit together: close in age, friends from the beginning, who suddenly realises they could be more. I liked that when they start to dance, it dawned on both Emma and Knightley (and myself) that they probably never danced together before. I liked, that Welch remembered how important the dancing are in Jane’s novels – because men and women didn’t to touch each other much else.
So waiting impatiently to watch the final episode, and will order the dvd when it comes out for a closer look.
I am also increasingly liking this series, although what Kari says @9 also initially started niggling me in the 2nd episode and got very strong in the 3rd: Is what’s being revealed about Emma’s and Knightly’s feelings going to diminish the dramatic tension for the audience, or the emotional impact of the revelation that they love each other?
After thinking about it, I think the tension will be diminished somewhat (we know that Emma is secure in Knightly) but I don’t think it will lessen the emotional impact. WE can see that they are starting to be pulled towards each other in ways they never have before. Mr Knightly is just starting to become aware of this, but Emma is utterly oblivious. The dear girl is going through checklists of how she feels (dull, apathetic), looking into mirrors to try and read what she’s feeling on her face (when Frank Churchill is about to walk in – and maybe propose), all the while trying to puzzle out “Is this what love feels like?” She is, of course, looking in all the wrong emotional places and will continue to do so until Harriet modestly announces that she does have reason to believe that Mr Knightly returns her affection.
And even though we realize that Knightly is just about there already and Emma is irreversibly on her way, neither of them is still going to have the slightest idea that the other feels that way until after the “I stopped you ungraciously, just now…” moment. There is tension in anticipating that moment, and I’m sure it will be chock-a-block with emotional impact and satisfaction.
Romala as Emma is growing on me, despite the tendency to mug. As Arnique says in response at @15, she is not particularly silly – or wise – and she captures that balance pretty well. Her energetic mannerisms were disconcerting at first – all that poking up of fires, and throwing open doors (where in the WORLD are the servants?), but they fit this version of Emma, in which her pent-up energy (physical and intellectual) are being particularly emphasized. You can more easily understand why and how it is that she takes such pleasure in imagining how things should be and trying to manipulate them accordingly. Her sources of occupation and amusement are far and few between, considering she has never taken the time or trouble to seriously work at the accomplishments that provided both to most young ladies of her time. LOL!!! Something just struck me – do you think Emma could have ADD? That may well explain the difficulty she has consistently applying herself to books, art and music.
A few more short notes and comments:
I was also seriously disgruntled with JLM as Knightly initially, but he is now SERIOUSLY growing on me. I still wish he looked just a teensy bit older and had a wee bit more gravitas, but I loved the way he threw himself into the dancing with Harriet, and I got tears in my eyes in the scene when he and Emma were on the floor.
Idem ditto Harriet Smith – I thought she looked too old at first, but she is pretty, sweet, rather dim, and completely open and artless in her affections –exactly what a Harriet Smith should be.
Mr & Mrs Elton – perfection!
Jane Fairfax – she’s one of the ones I’m having the most difficulty with. Her mannerisms aren’t quite right. In the book she’s is just very reserved – there’s no indication whatsoever of the tension emanating off her which you see in this adaptation. You know that Something Is Up, and because that tension shows its face most obviously in interaction with a certain person, you know it probably has to do with….
Frank Churchill – I don’t find him as charming as I think he should be. Can’t see how/why Jane would have fallen in love with him. Of course, here he is acting a role within a role. He was probably very different at Weymouth. As Knightly notes, he is immature. He is playing his role of indifference , even pointed non-attraction to Jane, with more verve and pleasure than is at all complimentary to him as a gentleman in the situation. Then again, that IS how it was in the book. Although their marriage is given as a ‘fairytale’ ending for Jane, I wonder how happy it ultimately was for her with such a man. Knightly indeed, as Emma later reflects, is greatly his superior.
Miss Bates – In no other adaptation has the pathos of her character been so emphasized. I’m sure it’s being done to make the Big Bang that Emma delivers at Box Hill even more awful, but this Miss Bates is in no way the generally happy, cheerful oblivious one from the book who finds she has so many blessings in her family and neighbours. She’s merely a sad, old talkative spinster, burdened with the care of an old mother, who is always putting on a brave, happy face. Ah well…
I’m so jealous! It’s not shown here yet. But next week, we will have Wuthering Heights, not sure if I will watch it though.
Bargain with the Devil
I’ve got links from someone here where you can watch the first 3 episodes on FastPassTV – bigger screen and better quality even than You Tube. If you’re interested let me know and I’ll find some way of mailing them to you.
Gee Karenlee, why don’t you just report it to the BBC while you are at it? There is a reason why people are using PMs…
I’m sorry. I was under the impression that as long as you didn’t post the actual URL itself it wouldn’t get caught in the whatever ‘net’ the broadcaster had out. That’s why I mentioned mailing the links to her. My apologies again if my understanding of how it works was wrong. I also think your snarky sarcasm was rude and completely uncalled for.
I was definitely being sarcastic, but I didn’t mean to be snarky; it’s just that people have been very careful across all the Austen boards not to post anything that would cause links to be pulled, as they have been in the past. There are clearly lots of fans on this side of the pond who are enjoying this Emma (even if I’m not especially one of them), and it would be a shame to spoil their pleasure with only one episode remaining. Let’s hope the BBC gremlins are not out in full force. And I apologize if your feelings were hurt.
Sadly, the third episode, while it is markedly better than the first two, may not save this series from tanking. I must admit to liking Jonny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightley, but I still feel that the writers have largely squandered four hours of air time. More of Jane’s novel was packed into the Douglas McGrath script of two hours, or Andrew Davies’ script. But this time around the dialogue used some of Jane Austen’s words and the ballroom scene was lovely.
Here’s the Promo Clip for the PBS showing of Emma in January. It’s much better than the English one in my opinion.
Oh yes – MUCH better than the English version 🙂 !!
Emma Part1 and 2 is on Tudou.com It is a Japanese website but if you type in Emma 09 in the box
that looks like all other search boxes (at top with a magnifying glass next to it)
you will see pictures to find the right Emma.
Do NOT post direct links. It is an agreement that we would not do so!!!!
I think it has already been removed.
Emma 2009 is Jane Austen dumbed down to the level of romantic pulp. Episode 4 would have to knock it out of the park to make the series even mediocre overall.
Well, I am thoroughly enjoying this adaptation. It’s been well written and well cast.I’m looking forward to Part4 tonight.
JLM is a wonderful Mr Knightly – I’ve almost forgoteen Jermy Northam and Mark Strong!
This adaptation is growing on me, but I do have to say, there are too many mistakes for me to be able to like it. I’n not sure that it can’t be getting used to at all, really… Welch has looked at detail in the book, but then seems to have forgotten the importance of the things that happen (one of teh things the ‘brother and sister’-thing). As people have said here, should we have so many hints at what Knightley is thinking if we should still be confused about him being in love wth Harriet or Emma? I suppose it adds to the anguish of Emma in the end, but is that really what we need to see, because I seem to remember that Austen was about wit?
What gets me is: what is up with Churchill? What is he doing seizing Emma’s hand if he feels nothing for her when leaving? Fine, he is supposed to seemingly court her, and confuse her and everyone else that he wants to propose, but really, he did not go that far! And I wonder, all hints towards his secret engagements have been very much toned down to nearly non-existence… If I were Jane, I would get seriously worried. Chuchill is not a jerk, he is sweet but a little careless. They are indeed making him a Willoughby like in the Miramax-version. Davies got him very much right (delightful he looked and acted. He i also the Maitre d’hôtel in Hotel Babylon, by the way), s did the 1972 adaptation that did not hint at any bad ocnduct whatsoever (that was a shortcoming).
It is true, Knighltey and Emma should start to fall in love at that ball, but did it need to be so obvious? We will not get fooled by the ‘who-maries-whom’ plot if we see that. Really, for a film of 1,5 hours, ok, but for a four hour miniseries? You have loads of time, so do it subtelly.
What I absolutely do not get is that they seem to have put nature into it (hello Davies), they even put omnipresent love/fire/candles in it, they covered nymphs with snow (love/passion/emotion covered by restraint), but they do not use it. It seems that they heard the bell, but don’t know that it is in the tower. If you talk about restraint, then restrain your characters. If you give characters lines as: ‘the fire is a little too hot for me tonight’, then do not have them look round in a yearning manner. The fire was enough. If you have them walk through nature and look through windows, do not hint too much at Box Hill or you are in danger of spoiling the whole thing.
With a four hour serial, you have a lovely long time to make it subtle, dn then you waste time on saying things 100 times where once is enough? Do they really think the public is that stupid?
Mrs Elton is good, but she becomes annoying after a while beause she is boring. Davies’s one was better written. That she is young is very good, but it should not have been a ground for easiness. Ad Christina Cole was suc a very good Caroline Bingley… And what’s with the puppies. Whynot put that in, that is bound to put a smile on everyone’s face!
This is in danger of becoming sugary towards the end. Bet? We’ll see it tonight.
Well, it would seem almost everyone has a different idea of what is really wrong with the adaptation.
Frank Churchill of Miramax production was very slimy and creepy as far as I’m concerned.
I’m beginning to get annoyed with this Emma as she is too unlady like. She frowns too much, leaves her mouth open too long, and doesn’t courtesy properly – too ungainly. Harriet sits more erectly, and her features are more controlled.
Miss Bates looked promising in the first episode, but since then she’s so unlike Miss Bates – she doesn’t talk much!!!!! Seems to indulge in self pity!!!
I didn’t want to be fussy but these things are glaringly disturbing.
Loved it. Will definitely be buying the DVD when it comes out.
I am loving this version of Emma. Emma is one of my all-time favorite books and I’ve never seen an adaptation of it that I liked (although I do love Clueless – it’s not exactly a strict adaptation!) I like what Romola Garai is doing with the part – at first her broad smiles annoyed me, but the more I watch the more I realize that her Emma is just determined to be cheerful even though she’s lonely and rather trapped with her father. I also liked the comparisons of her life with Jane and Frank’s. I never really thought about how similar their lives were (all losing at least one of their parents at a young age) but they left and Emma was the one who stayed in Highbury.
Also, JLM is very good as Mr. Knightley – he’s not exactly my idea of the character (JLM plays him just slightly too sweet, I always pictured Mr. Knightley as a little more gruff) but I like him quite a bit.
The only casting I’m having problems with is Miss Bates. I thought Sophie Thompson was perfect in the 1996 film and Tamsin Grieg just doesn’t seem like the babbling, slightly pitiful old maid that Miss Bates should be. She’s too strong and self-aware.
But overall – I love it.
>I realize that her Emma is just determined to be cheerful even though she’s lonely and rather trapped with her father.
That’s what is precisely wrong with this Emma.
She doesn’t have to be determined to be cheerful. She is normally cheerful – except when not, like all normal people.
This is not the Emma of the book if she has any feelings of being trapped with her father!!!
I won’t say the adaptation is very bad, but it isn’t very good.
And I *must* say it is Romola who is the worst. The rest are quite alright. Even Mr Knightley (though I would have preferred RA) is dignified enough.
If anyone wants to know where to watch the series online, give me a message;)
I thought the tension built up marvellously in this episode and JML’s subtle facial inflexions convey his emotions far more sincerely that Garai’s facial gymnastics.
I think Garai is getting better but I would have preferred slightly more graceful deportment – that does rankle slightly.
JML does look vey young but in fact is the right age for the part and is up there with Northam for me.
I am getting more used to the modern manners as the series progresse but I am still a traditionalist at heart
Wow, this has been so, so good. The production is beautiful. They seem to want to piss off the pedants, which makes me laugh. I cry too – this is truly the most emotionally honest Emma out there. No set piece this.
As does Mr. Elton! Blake Ritson is genius. JLM is amazing. Emma – well, she had no guidance, she lives amongst bumpkins, what do you people want? Sorry, won’t get into it. Need my free time to go watch it again. I might be buying this in R1 and R2, so I can watch it wholly sooner as well as sharing it.
Gosh, I’ve read so many different viewpoints in these blogs! Have to say I agree with the comments by Jen K about the emotionally honesty of this production. With all due respect to the traditionalists (I won’t call them pendants!), I think its important to take a broad view of this new series. Jane Austin wrote Emma as a satire with significant comic elements, and I think that this production and casting captures that really well. I very much like the protrayal of Mr Knightley by Jonny Lee Miller – pretty much how I imagined from the book. Romola Garai’s change from slightly manic, frivolous Emma to the chastened post-Box Hill Emma is finely drawn, and even knowing the story, I was still moved to tears by the emotional tension in the proposal scene.
JA uses the story to highlight the poor lot of women in the nineteenth century: it comes over well in this series that Emma, with all her apparent wealth and privilege, is so limited in what she can do and who she can mix with, in a way which is incomprehensible for us in the 21st century – that’s why Frank Churchill’s arrival in Highbury is such a big event! If JA were alive, I’m sure she wouldn’t expect dramatisations of her novel to be ‘pickled in aspic’ by sticking rigidly to all period details, but would be delighted that her story of the human condition still appeals nearly 200 years later!
This is my first post to this site, but as there is so much here that is of interest – and that I can shed light on, so I decided to go ahead and do it !
There seems to be a lot of varying opinions on the series, but most comments seem to love the Crown Inn ball scene – at which I was a dancer, so I can clarify quite a lot !
Firstly, to Anne, Kathleen, Ruby and Kiki, I can tell you that you won’t find the dances anywhere on the internet, as they were created especially for the series by the Choreographer Paul Harris. Apparantly a decsion was taken in pre-production to choreograph dances rather than use dances that ‘exist’, as it allowed greater freedom in the story telling and because Highbury, the Crown Inn, Knightley – and indeed Emma, didn’t exist either !
There was a vibe around though that the ball was going to be something special and everyone felt that the music and the choreography were beautifully married and definitely faciltated the story, better than any previous version of ‘Emma’. I heard that he dances were named by the Choreographer and the music for all 3 dances was written by the Composer of the series, Samuel Sim. The Emma/Knightley dance, was a ‘dance arrangement’ of the main theme of the series. The names of the 3 dances are….
‘The Town Square’, ‘The Ship’s Cook’ and ‘Ginny’s Market.
I was intrigued by what seems to be the only critical comments on the dance scene by Lisa (post number 5). The scene ‘bugged her’ because she apparantly thought that as well as Harriet, Jane Fairfax wasn’t dancing either, so it wasn’t so poignant…I think you’d better watch it again Lisa – but watch it properly this time. Jane Fairfax is clearly asked to dance by Mr. Cole whilst Emma and Frank are talking just prior to the 2nd dance. Jane Fairfax is in the entire 2nd dance – and the 3rd dance too !
I have danced in several ball scenes in period dramas and I agree with the people that loved this scene. In my opinion, it was the most beautiful and spirited dance scene of any Austen adaptation and it was a joy to dance in.
The filming for this scene was over 3 days the entire cast and crew were a joy.
I don’t want to temper your enthuesiasm, but I did not find that particularly ‘The Ship’s Cook’ and ‘Ginny’s Market’ were very well chosen. As a folkdancer, I have learnt the difference between 19th century dances (after the waltz) and 18th century and earlier.
‘The town square’ could pass, although, squares (literally 4 couples in a square) came into fashion a little later… Most dances at the time of Austen were danced in lines of men and women. Still it could pass, if it hadn’t ended in such an odd way (after having one couple making a gate and then go through the set). Very odd. Not the figure itself (there exist figures like that in American, English and Irish dances that I know), but the end. A square implies that all couples do all figures, or they perform 2 by 2 (like they did in the beginning). It never occurs that 1 couple does a figure and the rest does not.
‘The Ship’s Cook’ was not a cery good choice as it was clearly inspired by seamen’s dances (the men who turn around in an odd fashion with arms crossed on their breast). That was a true folk dance, not to be danced by the high classes. Not to mention the ‘manly’ clapping and shouting by everyone and changing girls. If women danced this (or would have) it was coarse seamen’s women, and not ladies like Emma. There is actually a dance called ‘The Ship’s Cook’, but I don’t think it’s that one as it is performed by travelling theatre-groups.
‘Ginny’s Market’ was better and looked more late 18th century, early 19th century, if it were not that they had to embrace. Window-figures like that did exist, but they usually consisted only of bringing the arm up, higher than the head, so that a window came into existence through which gentlemen and lady could stare at each other for a brief period of time (ah). Gentlemen always refrained from grabbing the waist of the lady, because this was obscene (The Times about the waltz).
Nobody says one has to use dances in existence. Like you say, Highbury did not exist, so why use existing dances? But still, ask someone who has a thorough knowledge of 18th century dances so that your created dances look their part and avoid anachronism. I refer to Davies (again) who also meddled with his dances (added hays and what-not), and used slightly older ones, but did not get anachronistic.
Y’know, I’m still harboring a Darcyish resentment towards Andrew Davies for making my Henry Tilney a brooding wimp and taking all his best lines away from him, but I don’t think he chose the dances!
Ok, sorry. I havent seen that one yet. But still, at least that production of Emma took a proper choreographer who knew what she was talking about (she also did 1995 P&P). Call it A&E, then, who engaged the choreographer.
@Kiki – thanks for clarifying “The Ship’s Cook”. When I saw it, I was confused by the handclapping and shouting – my knowledge of dance comes from movies, but since I didn’t remember seeing anything like this in any Austen film (and the fact, that it doesn’t seem like a very lady like dance!) I thought it kinda odd. Nice to know that it wasn’t just me – though the ballroom scene still was beautiful, it’s annoying that so many things get anachronistic.
I agree that it was truly beautyful that last one… Why did they have to ruin it with the rest, though? 😦
Gosh Kiki, you know so much about so much – it’s a wonder the BBC haven’t asked YOU to direct and choreograph a period drama series !
I had no intention of starting an internet debate and simply posted my information as there were so many genuinely inquisitive, interesting and intelligent posts on this site from Ruby, Amy, Anne, Kathleen etc about both the music and dancing in ‘Emma’, that I thought I would shed a little light as I knew some of the answers…However,
I found your recent posts in reply to me, patronising, arrogant and at times verging on idiotic, displaying a clear lack of knowledge about how dance is created for film (of course only one couple didn’t form a gate at the end of the first dance in ‘Emma’ – both sets fell into lines, all couples formed the shape and the two lines all changed places. It was the way it was edited, that showed only one couple !). Plus the dance was 3 minutes longer and yes, absolutely, all of the couples did all of the figures – but as the Director had only 56 seconds of air time for that first dance, guess what ?..when it finally went out on air, it been condensed !
Also, I’m so glad for you that “as a folk dancer you’ve learnt about the difference between 19th Century (after the Waltz) dances & 18th century and earlier”. However, (and this is one reason why your post was arrogant), as a professional dancer of over 30 years who’s studied at dance college, danced in countless films and many times for the English National Opera Company, I know a little about this subject myself !(For instance, off the top of my head ‘Hudson House’ is a famous English country dance in a square set for 4 that existed over 100 years before Jane Austen wrote ‘Emma’ !
However I think the thing that was most arrogant, was your statement that the BBC have previously used a “proper choreographer” (Goodness, you really are something !)…
I have no allegience to either of the choreographers that did the last 2 tv series of ‘Emma’ (in fact I have worked for both) and I recall on one film, that all of us dancers knew full well that the “proper choreographer” to which you refer, had selected for our scene a VERY famous piece of popular American/ Latin American music from the 1950’s, that was written over 10 years after the film was set ! On another film that I worked on, that same choreographer had someone else teach a dance (from the 1930’s) as she didn’t know it. So Athough I wasn’t present at any ‘Emma’ pre-production meetings, given that the BBC have the choice of the best creative brains in the UK, I’m sure that all suitable contenders would have been discussed when deciding who should be the Choreographer for this latest version of ‘Emma’ and they arrived at their desicion with a great amount of thought. Dancers obviously don’t interfere as we all want to work, but we know when we are working with good people and for what it’s worth, my personal opinion of the choreographer of this version of ‘Emma’, is that he is brilliant (a view that seems to be shared by almost all the dancers I know that have worked with this man).
The bottom line (and the reason why the Director of ‘Emma’ seemed to like him, is becaue he creates work that really serves the story – which after all is the purpose of it all. (I have read more positive comments on the internet about the lovely development of the relationship between Emma and Knightley in the 3rd dance at this ball, than in any other dance, in any other version of ‘Emma’. Most people seem to love it and as I was actually there to experience it, so I was simply echoing to the people who had posted questions about the dancing and gorgeous music, that it was a view shared by the people actually on the set.
Another thing that you seem to have no understanding of, Kiki, is the issue t.v. vs film budget ! There was a grand total of ONE DAY’s rehearsal for the entire ball scene in ‘Emma’ 2009 – and that was putting the dances together for us dancers, teaching the actors and then the Director deciding how he would shoot it. In the latest film version of P&P (on which I also danced), we had a week !
I know many choreographers professionally and don’t usually take much interest in their other work, but I have just properly Googled the choreographer of ‘Emma’ and I found that he has choreographed pretty much all almost all of the BBC’s major period drama’s of the last 10 years, including the fabulous ‘Bleak House’, ‘Jane Eyre’, ‘Little Dorrit’, ‘The Way We Live Now’, ‘Sense and Sensibilty’ and a wonderful twist on Jane Austen for ITV (another UK tv channel) in which I was fortunate enough to be a dancer, called ‘Lost In Austen’. I already knew that that he has was also charged with devising and choreographing the most expensive film franchise in movie history, so for you to be so disparaging about a professional Choreographer of such incredible standing, is what I was referring to as idiotic.
So, Kiki, please don’t worry about tempering my enthusiasm, I am dancer by profession and people who actually work in the arts rather than just comment on them, are used to people like you – fortunately for us all, you are not making film and television and the poeple who are, actually want to bring the wonderful texts of authors like Jane Austen to life. Speaking of which, I suggest that you get one !
I can’t see how I would be patronising. It is possible that he is a choreographer who has worked on a lot of things. That does not make him an authority. He was a ballroom dance champion, has had no education in folk dance. The 1995 P&P choreogaphy was much better and more authentic. I can’t recall any dancing in Little Dorrit, but correct me if I am wrong. Other than that, Paul Harris is also a movement coach and so not only dancing coach. His choreography for Lost in Austen at any rate was much better… But thanks for the info on the director. So, it was the director who wanted certain things… It will not be a coincidence that director and producer are linked wit more modern drama? Althogh, the Lost In Austen-team also did not have any eperience in period drama matters… Indeed, a choreographer does not work on his own, like the writer. It is well possible that the BBC has debated about it, but still it does not make their decision a good one.
Fine, they are dancing in an Inn. There is a great difference between an Inn and a pub. In case you did not know (and I am just giving info here, am not being patronising), an Inn is a place where people could eat, sleep and rest during their journeys by coach. And they could change horses. If they went by post (cheaper than by their own coach), they could get off if they had to take another coach in another direction. So, that Inn would have served equally people of high class like Churchill and also commoners. It would also have served as pub, like you say, for the folk of Highbury. But, there would have been private rooms for ladies to get away from the men-folk and for richer people not to have to socialise with the plebs, not to mention rooms to sleep in. So it is by no means an argument to allow any laxness in manners.
Other than this, the dance is deemed ‘a ball’, so a proper social dance in order for ladies to get husbands. Big balls were not common indeed, in Highbury, but people still danced privately (what did they have to do a whole evening when having had dinner together? Talk? About what?). Dancing was a main divertion and was regularly done just for pleasure, like playing was. Hene, people learnt dances. And certainly the latest that were published in books for playford.
Boisterous clapping is to be avoided. It is unthinkable that Emma, arrogant about low-class people and ‘the poor’ as she is, would start to do this. If The Times found closed hold ‘obscene’ just after the introduction of the waltz at court after ‘Emma’ was published, what would they have said about a plebs-dance? Closed hold was a working-class thing. A thing practised by working-class people who were ill-bred (to use Austen-language).
Who was to be invited by the Westons to that same ball? Not the poorest peasant of Highbury… They are people who are at least to be called middle class, who can keep themselves and their family without the ladies having to work. A Mr Martin would probably have bee of the lowest class at that ball as he is at least able to keep his family in a satisfactory manner and is on the good way to become a gentleman-farmer. Still, the ostler was not there. It is not an argument to have a local type of dance.
‘The Ship’s Cook’ is inspired by seamen’s dances… I find that doubtful because we are not in a seafaring community. We are somewhere in the neighbourhood Bath-London (far enough from Oxford to make Harriet’s assertion ridiculous). Rather further to Bath than London as Richmond is a day riding away. For local dances they would better have looked at older ceilidh dances as a first. Like ‘The Balck Nag’. Or they could have consulted Sharp.
The reason why Emma hasn’t seen Mr Knightley dance is not because she hasn’t had the chance, it is because he does not like it and consequently does not. I would say he did dance in the past, but has lost interest. Wat was dancing for anyway? It was to procure a life-partner, not for mere amusement. The amusement consisted in learning to dance so that you could make a proper impression on a ball like that. He, as an older bachelor, without thoughts of matrimony at present, is not reall in a mood to dance. Emma likes the gratification of being noticed, which Mr Knightley does not.
Hello Vintage Dancer, I know this is off topic of your comment, but you mentioned that you danced in the Ball scene from BBC’s Emma! Wow! That’s just the kind of thing I want to do! How exactly do you find out about these dances, and how can you become an extra for one? I know alot of dances, and I’ve tried to learn the one’s off Emma, simply by watching, but I can’t quite get them. I’d love to have the dance steps if you have them?! I’d also love to be a dance extra for a period type movie, but I don’t know how to get involved.
Oh and one more thing Kiki, just to clear up your other assumptions about dance no. 2 – ‘The Ship’s Cook’….
Having people clap and whoop when dancing in a BBC adaptation of a Jane Austen novel, is not a decision that would have been taken lightly. It is also not a decision that would have rested with either the dancers or the Choreographer. In fact we had clear direction from the Director, that what he wanted, was for the scene to have exactly the feel that it did have – and that he wanted to get away from the myth that everyone in England could suddenly dance beautifully around 1800 ! The dance is in The Crown Inn –
a pub ! You know, a place where people would have been drinking downstairs ! Perhaps you should argue with Jane Austen that “ladies like Emma” wouldn’t have actually gone to a pub ! To illustrate this further, he pointed out that it’s actually in the text that Emma has NEVER seen Knightley dance before (“your secret is out – you dance better than anyone”), therefore, given how close they are, the amount of dances/balls that had previously been held in their village in Emma’s adult lifetime, must have been limited. We were told that many of the people at the ball would have come from other villages just to attend the dance and he wanted ‘The Ship’s Cook’ to have much more of a ‘local feel’ than a ‘London feel’ and to be very very lively. This direction informed the whole feel of the ball and the BBC actually WANTED it to feel different from any other BBC Jane Austen ball scene. Finally, all 3 dances had to obviously contrast each other to make the scene visually interesting.
What you seem to be missing is that the main thing is to make the audience believe the drama. Maybe you didn’t believe it, but most people seem to. It’s really not a documentary about the history of English country dancing, but a vehicle for a story – in this case, a key moment in the development of a love story. I personally agree with all the people who loved the music too – it’s absolutely gorgeous and the Director of ‘Emma’ and the Composer, previously worked together on a highly acclaimed British tv drama about the life of Saddam Hussein called ‘House of Saddam’ !
As to ladies and pubs… Men went to taverns where they got stuff to eat waiting for dinner-time (lunch did not exist). Ladies did not because they were at risk (it was even too dangerous for Jane to walk home alone…). If they did not have a man with them, they would never have entered such an establishment. Only… if they were working class, like Nancy for example in Oliver Twist. Ladies like Emma wouldn’t have been seen dead in a place like an Inn. A place of ill-repute where all kinds of vices were practiced. Where people got drunk. Much too dangerous. If they had to go into one, on their journey, alone, they would procure a room to themselves, just as Kitty and Lydia (?) do in P&P. It was not suitable for unmarried women to be alone in such a public place. High class men could be seen with the plebs because they could defend themselves. At any rate, the ball was in a hall ABOVE the Inn, not in the general area.
The dance is in The Crown Inn – a pub ! You know, a place where people would have been drinking downstairs !
It was at the Crown, but it was a private ball given by the Westons to invited guests. They did not have room at their own home for such an event, so they rented the Crown. It was not a public assembly that anyone with the ticket money could attend.
Again, haven’t seen the series yet, but just wanted to point that out.
Usually I’m pretty picky. Like others have said, I like things to be consistent with the time period and the characters, etc. But for some reason it just didn’t bother me in this series. I am so impressed with the cast. I love Romola and Jonny Lee Miller as Emma and Knightly. They are a little unusual actors for what you’d expect, but I like it.
As for all the other critiques, relax! Take it for what it is and enjoy it! If people are going to be this picky, they should just read the book instead, For that’s the only way it can satisfy everyone’s liking.
Isn’t the music beautiful? I love the dance scene. I believe it’s one of my favorites yet.
Yes Nicole, spot on ! It’s a dramatisation and we should all be thrilled that there is such an appetitite for Jane Austen and other wonderful authors that tv companies like the BBC are prepared to invest in them. I also agree that having danced in several, the dance scene in ‘Emma’ is my favourite too – although obviously there have been other very good ones in other Austen productions.
As for you Kiki, it was me that you were patronising to, not him (I felt you were being unbelievably arrogant as far as he was concerened – and it seems that you know of him.of him, so maybe you have an axe to grind ?). As I said, I simply offered some clarity and you attacked me and sarcastically said that you “don’t want to temper my enthusiasm” ! Having said that, I’m not surprised that you can’t see how were being arrogant or patronising to me !
You were though – and are even more arrogant to him in your latest reply !…
“He has no education in folk dance”. Please ! I read that he’s on the board of Directors of one main dance teaching associations in this country and co-wrote their Historical Dance and 19th/20th Century Dance Syllabuses….
Of course, 100 year old dance teaching organisations always ask people who don’t know what they’re talking about the write their syllabuses for them ! There have been plenty of experienced Folk dancers used on productions I’ve done for him and it’s clear that he knows exactly what he’s talking about. Also, clearly the BBC didn’t feel that the ‘choreography’ (it was re-staging of scripted dances not really choreography) in the 1995 was “better”, or they would requested more of the same. What you can’t seem to grasp, is that it’s not a case of “better”, it’s what serves the story. The 2 situations are completely different and what I do recall about the 1995 P&P, is that when D’Arcy and Elizabeth are speaking in such earnest, they are the only couple talking ! Directors would not allow that any more as it a riduclous convention that only one couple speak and the others neither speak, nor hear what they main couple are saying ! To me, as lovely as it is, that scene looks like ‘here come the dancers’ ! In this recent ‘Emma’ though, I felt we looked like a ‘real’ group of people and I’m sure that’s one reason why the scene has had such impact.
As I explained previously, the direction we were given from the Director of the series was to “make it very, very boisterous”. Plus we’re back to the same thing – money. Budget for dance scenes and the like in 2009, is not what it was in 1995. Much more money (and therefore time) was allocated for dance sequences then. I thought that what was achieved in ‘Emma’ with just one day’s rehearsal was nothing short of amazing !
As for ‘Little Dorrit’. Yes you are absolutely wrong. I have the dvd and there was a great scene in a Victorian music hall with Roy Hudd playing the Director.
And Kiki, please stop quoting The Times at me as if it’s the only scource of information on the history of dance ! We ALL have access to the article that you keep referring to – along with Playford, Thomas Wilson, PJ Richardson, Edward Scott, Sharp, Belinda Quierey and every other person that’s ever written anything about dance in previous periods. You seem to be basing your entire thinking on one journalist from one newspaper (good job we don’t do that about other things in life !) In any case, regardless of the outrage of one Times journalist, the Waltz obviously won out swiftly and the diagram in Wilsons ‘Treatise on Waltzing’ 1816 (around the date of ‘Emma’), shows clearly the mens and lady’s arms in exactly the holds we were given for the various section of ‘Ginny’s Market’. The fact that Ginny’s Market is in 3/4 time, is probably not insiginficant either. I heard when we were filming that there were extensive pre-production discussions about exactly how much to hint at the emerging Waltz (given the publication date of the book and the fact Jane Austen actually mentions it by name in the book). Maybe you noticed that Frank takes Emma into Waltz hold when they try out the floor ? These decisions would have been decided upon in pre-production and the Director and the BBC would have had a huge say in that.
And yes Kiki, I know the difference between an an Inn and a pub – but thanks for clarifying. There was no need to put “in a room ABOVE” a pub, in caps, because I had already said that other people would have been downstairs. As a professional dancer, I’m also well aware what dancing was used for, but thanks again for your guidance..!
Anyway, I guess the BBC will never please everyone, however hard they try. You’re here on a Jane Austen site and all you can do is criticise the BBC’s reverence of Austen ! Why don’t you just make your own versions, then you’ll know you’ll be happy !
The general opinion of this series seems to be slow start, picked up very well in episode 3, interesting and spirited casting for Emma and Knightley, very beautiful music and a lovely, moving ball scene. It’s absolutely great that Jane Austen is so loved that she keeps being dramatised.
There is no need for attacking me because I have a little criticism. I am not patronising. Technology has changed since the nineties. The reason why we cannot see other people but Lizzie and Darcy talking, is because there was a fly on the lense which rendered nearly all shots from a distance totally useless. Hence the very small amount of total image that is in the film.
It is not because the waltz was danced in some places and was favoured that it did not have a lot of opposition. Jane Austen indeed mentioned a waltz that was danced at the Coles’ party, although she also mentions that Chruchill led Emm ‘up to the top’. A waltz is danced in a circle. Maybe you can clarify?
At any rate it does not imply that a gentleman takes a lady in his arms straight away after knowing her two weeks. Even in 1825 it was still deemed indecent.
Little Dorrit may have had Music Hall in it. However music hall is working class and does not involve high class people so much.
I have no score to settle with Harris. But I do doubt the result of what he did here. If it was the director’s fault, then so be it. If it was his own fault, then so be it too. The fault of the dancers it wil not have been as they do what they are asked. The fact that 1995 were dances ‘only re-performed’ is no reason to call that lesser than these created dances (the choreographer was nominated for an Emmy). Dances were recycled again and again, changed a little and then recycled again. At least the dances from 1995 were to be called authentic, which one could not at all say about ‘The Ship’s Cook’. Granted, ‘The Town Square’ and ‘Ginny’s Larket’ could pass (particularly Ginny’s Market). The treatise you mention was there just to take opposition to the waltz away, which was very much present in the higher classes. Just because it wasn’t London, opposition in towns like Highbury must have been much greater, but… what do I know, I suppose?
To reply to my own post. I looked at the scene with the dancing again. I now know what bothered me, particulry with The Town Square: it does not go on for long enough. The music is not edited (as if that is ever possible even if doing the filming with earpieces) so it is as if the talking is taking place during the dance, but the dance is not long enough. The same format was done in P&P, but there, the dances were at least played three times so that it was plausible. Other than that, the rest of tehdances are as long, but they are done in full several times; Apart from the longest one which is only done in part and then the music really stops. Had they cut when the music was still going on, it wouldn’t have been that bad. They could have put in a shot of the building and then faded it, like they did with the food. Lakc of money is no excuse for bad editing.
Gosh, as I’ve said twice, I only did that first post to offer some information as I was actually there on the days of the ‘Emma’ ball. I had no intention whatsoever of getting into a discussion about dance history !
Ok, firstly I am not criticising the dance scenes in the 1995 P&P. They are obviously iconic, very lovely and there is absolutely no suggestion in anything I said that reconstructing dances, is a any way less valid than choosing to choreograph new ones. I also obviously know that the Choreographer of that P&P was nominated for an Emmy, because I’ve worked for her – twice. They are however, the dancing equivalent of beautifully spoken Shakespeare. Some people love that – but more and more of today’s Directors want to see the texts really brought to life (or you might as well just read them). Shakespeare’s plays have survived all these years not because they are beautiful language, but because they are great plays (stories). Same with Jane Austen and (in this case) the ball under discussion. The Director of ‘Emma’, wanted a less formal scene, with more ‘real’ people and no suggestion of ‘here come the dancers’.
The thing that I find difficult to relate to, is your black and white views of everything. I said that the Director of ‘Emma’ had Directed ‘House of Saddam’, so immediately you implied that of course that must mean he that he couldn’t possibly understand how to direct a period drama ! He has obviously directed lots of stuff from lots of periods and I’m sure would approach everything with the same integrity. Also your comments on the Choreographer. The fact that he was an International Ballroom dancing champion (over 25 years ago !) instantly caused you to write that “he has no education in folk dance” ! I also read that he went to drama school and was in a West End production of West Side Story’. Plus as he’s choreographed lots of dramas of all different periods. As he is a key player in a dance teachers association’s Period and Historical dance faculties, one would expect that he has chosen that genre of dance as (at least partly) an important thing to study !
(You also jumped to the conclusion that ‘Little Dorrit’ was for ‘lower class’ people and therfore he couldn’t possibly know about high class dancing !) What about the ‘Emma”s Composer then ? He also did ‘House of Saddam’. Maybe you think his music was wrong too, as he surely must be a composer of only contemporary music ? !
I was surprised to read though what you said about ‘the fly in the lens’ (?!) Ugh ? there’s loads of dance footage in that P&P – plus I wasn’t talking about long shots anyway, I was talking about the whole dramatic/filming style of ball.
I have been mainly surprised at how disparaging you’ve been of the ‘Emma’ Choreographer. Were you involved in the 1995 P&P ? because it does seem that you have an agenda ? Speaking for myself (and I’m sure for other dancers that I know), who have worked with both of those Choreographers, the reason we like Paul Harris is because he is a great dancer himself so he can actually demonstrate if neccessary, he understands the language of both dance and acting (it would appear so anyway, as the actors seem to love him too) and he does not come across as not knowing what he’s doing in any way. He makes complicated things simple not simple things complicated..! He also appears to be very committed to the truth and accuracy of the stories he choreographs for – as much as the constraints of the film will allow. I have done 4 jobs for him.
Regarding your question…
It’s my understanding, that the exact wording of the ‘Emma’ text, is exactly the reason why they only ‘hinted’ at the Waltz (by using 3/4 time for the long set dance, the Wilson holds and the rise and fall of the Waltz). Frank Churchill was the only one who actually took ‘Waltz hold’ hold (appropriate for this portyal of the character). The word on the set was that Waltzing per se had been discussed at lenght, but that despite the actual word being used, the line about ‘Emma’ being “led to the top”, meant that she probably meant a Waltz rhythm for a set dance. So the dramatic licence was simply that the line, exactly as written by Jane Austen, was used for Emma and Knightley instead of Emma and Frank. But Knightley did indeed, “lead her to the top for an irresistable Waltz”. You have to understand that certain concessions have to happen to make drama of the piece work as a whole. No dancing was shown at the Cole’s party, so Jane Austen’s exact instructions of Frank and Emma dancing together in the first dance of the ball and Emma being “led to the top for an irresistable waltz” both actually happened – as close as was possible to do.
I’m glad you watched it again though, because I said that the dance had been heavily edited and was eventually shown as being much shorter than we dance and filmed. One figure with a lovely pattern was not shown and the whole of the end of the dance was not shown. Once a film is wrapped, I doubt that the Choreographer has any say whatsoever in what happens afterwards in the edit.
Finally, the choice of the rowdy feel and style ‘The Ship’s Cook’ was definitely a high level BBC decision and we were given to believe that the Choreogapher had delivered exactly what was asked of him. I personally think it was a great ’round dance’ and perfect for the overall construction of the ball. The fact that heys are pregressive is consistent with feel and Emma had to be in different places according to the script. I’m not sure why you have it in so much for for the Choreographer, because you actually said yourself that ‘The Town Square’ dance “could pass” and that ‘Ginny’s Market’ was “truly beautiful” ! ‘The Ship’s Cook’, we will have to agree to differ !
Kiki, you have worn me out ! (I have to go to bed !) but I’ve enjoyed this little debate on dance history and in truth, I admire your passion about dancing 🙂
Truce. Goodnight !
Yes Nicole, spot on ! It’s a dramatisation and we should all be thrilled that there is such an appetitite for Jane Austen and other wonderful authors that tv companies like the BBC are prepared to invest in them.
THANK YOU SIR MAY I HAVE ANOTHER?
Actually I would say they keep dramatizing Jane Austen because they don’t have to pay her and she’s not around to complain about bad dramatizations. Haven’t seen the one under discussion yet, so no reflection on that, but this argument comes up every time the Janeites are disappointed.
Lol Mags !..Do you mean you want another Jane Austen film, or another writer ? ! (I believe there are still a couple more Jane productions in the pipeline !) Regarding your other post, yes indeed, it was made very clear to us that it was a private party in the function room upstairs at The Crown – there was no suggestion in the direction that it was any kind of public dance. Because that discussion was getting tetchy, I was just quoting the Director and illustrating the point that they wanted to get away (particularly) from the movie version of that scene and to try to show the scene much closer to how it’s written.
I think there’s an element of truth in what you say about why tv keeps doing Jane Austen – but period dramas are expensive though, so I wonder if the ‘not having to pay her’, balances out with the expense of costumes, locations etc ? Interesting..I’m sure she’d be thrilled that her work is so popular though. When will you be able to see this latest ‘Emma’ ?
I could watch it right now if I wanted to. I haven’t been able to summon up the interest in another “fresh” “modern” “original” adaptation, which to me means “rewritten so it isn’t really Jane Austen.
As to the “thank you sir” part, it’s a reference to a scene in the film “Animal House” where the fraternity pledges are beaten on the butt with their pledge paddle by a sadistic frat boy, to which they are to respond only, “THANK YOU SIR MAY I HAVE ANOTHER?” Like I said above, I have had little enjoyment from the latest crop of Austen-related films–the only ones I really enjoyed were Bride and Prejudice (the Bollywood musical adaptation of P&P), The Jane Austen Book Club, and Miss Austen Regrets. The rest were either poorly adapted, cheaply made, and/or for some bizarre reason rewritten to change Jane Austen’s intentions with the work, while still being promoted under her name. No, I don’t think it’s lovely that the BBC and ITV and the film studios continue to condescend to us, Lady Catherine-like, by making junk and putting Jane Austen’s name on it. I wish they would stop unless they’re prepared to try to make something that will make most of the Janeites happy. It can be done.
I’m a drama student and huge Jane Austen fan ! I absolutely loved this recent series and thought that Romola Garai and Johnny Lee Miller were stunning in the roles of Emma and Mr.Knightley. I can see that there’s a debate going on, but I thought the ball was beautifully done with real emotion showing and I thought that the choroegraphy was truly lovely.
I know what Vintage Dancer meant about it having to be right for the story and it was definitely a very moving moment when they danced. (Well I cried anyway !) That’s fab that you were a dancer in that scene Vintage Dancer ! Having read the heated posts above I did some quick Googling and found that the choreographer of this Emma did Harry Potter as well ! Now that’s seriously cool.. Jane Austen AND Harry Potter (I love Harry Potter too !)
Thank you Lara, it was a lovely job for the dancers and we all enjoyed it very much. We all felt it was a beautiful crafted scene and could feel that the Emma/Knightley dance had incredible chemistry. Many of the people hired to dance though, were stood down for that dance to make way for more of the principals.
Good luck with your studies.
Sorry to differ, but I wasn’t talking about the dances in particular. The Ship’s Cook is a very nice dance, only not for this ball. I have in the meantime done some research and it is close to impossible that at one morning’s ride away (16 to 18 miles to Richmond) there would be any seamen in that village. These dances are dances performed in coastal places and in places where there are ships like in Bermondsey (to stay close to Richmond). Highbury is nowhere near, certainly not in those days, because of bad roads and lack of transport. I find that Giny’s Market could have flowed better if there had been more turning. Particularly from the window-figure to the one after. It looked as if the window was ‘thrown’ in between. There are enough German and Austrian dances (that are the basis of this figure) to show the way. But other than that, that was a fine dance, if I had the chance I’d certainly explain it in my dancegroup.
About the director: he has had experience in modern drama, nothing else and his way of wanting boisterous behaviour certaintly shows that, not to mention the very flat acting. Incidentally, he has also done Coronation Street and several others of the same kind… The screaming and shouting, the crying in strange places… It screams soap-opera. Which does of course not mean that one is unable to make something good, even if the director wanted to update the behaviour in this adaptation, the choreographer should have stood firm. If Harris knows so much about it, then he should not have allowed his work to be ruined by this director. After all, he was comissioned to make three dances, then it is not the director who needs to change them. Certainly not if he has no experience whatsoever with period drama (which is a clear fact). At any rate, Dan Zeff who directed Lost in Austen did very good work despite limited experience (Miss Marple). It has everything to do with one’s beliefs of one’s own abilities. If the director is clever enough to distrust himself and ask advice to etiquette advisors (whose advice was also not taken in this case), choreographers, the writer (what should be funny, what not? what do I film and how), then there is no issue. As I understand, the choreographer does not seem to be at fault here. So I profoundly apologise, but it should be clear that after all, his name is on that work. If the director can do it better than the choreographer, then why have a choreographer at all? That also applies to the BBC team who decided to make it a folky affair.
Jim O’Hanlon in his nationality as Irisman can well have a more modern (anachronistic) way of seeing folk dances. Lord of the Dance is the emblem of Irish dancing, but is still only a creation and has its origins in traditional dances, but is not part of it. Nonetheless it stays unbelievably skilful and spectacular. Irish dancing would not have survived if it was not for that kind of mass, rythmic stuff. Yet, we cannot see an old woman throw her legs in the air. Perhaps she would feel better with Kitchen dances. It might be that O’Hanlon as an Irishman grew up with this kind of idea about it, but still it does not fit Austen. That is my only concern.
And I do not have an agenda, I have not worked on 1995 P&P. You have clarified a lot of stuff to me, so therefore thanks. I am just a sceptical viewer and great reader with some side knowledge.
Wow- Im a little stunned about some of the reactions on here!!! Not everyone will like every adaptation, but I don’t understand why some people are fixating so much on the dances in this way? So what if it isn’t likely there would be seamen there etc etc- it is an ‘adaptation’. Of course the books are best- but I very much enjoy watching all the different versions out there. The dance scene was the best out of the whole production and very moving to watch. Please everyone- its wonderful to be such loyal fans, but lets not get so uptight about the productions all the time- its meant to be entertainment!!! 🙂
Im very jealous Vintage Dancer that you have been able to be apart of all these wonderful films/tv series!
Yes, personally I agree with you – it’s an adaptation ! I know that passions run high with great authors, but I wasn’t expecting quite this debate when I put my first post on here ! But yes, mostly it’s very enjoyable -‘Emma’ in particular was a lovely job with a lovely crew.
I agree Mags – ‘Miss Austen Regrets’ was excellent. (Sadly I didn’t dance in it and also sadly I haven’t seen the other 2 you mention). I agree about the ITV ones, but I do always get the feeling that the BBC try their best to do their best – maybe they don’t always succeed, but I do think they try. It always seems to be less about money and everyone is keen to ‘get it right’.
Don’t know anything about ‘Animal House’ – that one falls in to my junk box !
No problem Kiki, apology accepted. A Choreographer would definetely not be in a position to “stand firm” to the extent of changing the Director’s overall vision of the scene Director – and they rarely would be involved in the edit. (Maybe if it’s a musical, but not in a drama). The best they can do is advise and then it’s up to the Director. I suppose they could always turn the work down – unlikely I imagine though, as they have to eat like all of us !
Regarding your observations about ‘The Ship’s Cook..one thing I dodn’t know, is whether the Choreographer had any say in the music for any of the dances. I know for sure that he actually named the dances, but I imagine that he would have just been given the music – especially as ‘Ginny’s Market’ is taken from the score. I’m not 100% sure about that, but I think it’s likely.
I also remembered that there was an ‘etiquette coach’ on this production of ‘Emma’ – not exactly sure what she did though, as although she was there, I didn’t personally witness any ‘etiquette advice’ being given on the set.
Further to my post Kiki..I must be very tired as I can see typos and errors !…I meant that a Choreographer would obviously be consulted, but wouldn’t be able to influence the Director’s overall visison of the scene – especially if it’s a such a strong vision as to involve a rowdy dance in a Jane Austen drama. As I said, a decision like that could only have been made by the Director and Producer. The Choreographer would then do his/her best to realise that vision – or turn the job down !
I understood you, no problem. 🙂
As I said, then it can’t be Mr Harris, but rather another. You have clarified a lot to me.
I think the BBC had an agenda for this adaptation: class-fading (having other styles of dances than any other aaptation in history) and political correctness (making the fears of Mr Woodhouse seem real and realistic)… In light of the BBC’s latest rules on comedy, this adaptation certainly reflects for a great part this want of over-correctness and fear of taking risks. That is certainly a high-level problem that has been kreeping into society since Blair came to power with one of the latest gaffs a schoolmaster who wanted a group of Morris Men to refrain from colouring their faces black out of (irrational) fear for being called a racist (tere was no-one, even coloured people who actually had anything against it). They do not seem to think about the fact that if you do not want to offend anyone, you better refrain from making programmes at all (apart from documentaries).
The tendency in this adaptation to make the rich (Emma and the rest) do all themselves (a lack of obvious servants to open doors, toss logs on fires etc.), to have the children at the dinner-table (not even a nursery-maid), the evident lack of carriages and horses (mostly we see people walking, even Miss Bates and her mother walk home (!)), actors dropping their T-s (most notably Churchill)… However, they forgot a few points. I suspet it is the fact that ‘the team’ did not work together very well. The writer had a view and wrote it down; the director had a view and filmed it; the choreographer had thrust upon him a view and tried to convert it into dances; the editor had his own view and edited the film according to it… But some things clashed. I don’t think they communicated together in a proper way. Hence the musical editiing of The Town Square, and the fact that Knightley’s astonishment about Emma’s non-attachment to Churchill was also lost (though a very important moment).
Are you working on something else now?
Wow, lots of thoughts there Kiki ! Most if that I guess would have been issues for the etiquette lady…? My concern was basically to dance and as I said, I always enjoy working for Paul Harris – plus all the other dancers were very nice on that shoot.
Yes, I’m dancing in a very short BBC learning film. Small job but it’s a series of 6 films using dance to show an aspect of life of different periods
– 1980, 1960, 1940, 1920 and 1900. No idea how it will turn out !
Oh, don’t worry, I was talking about the whole thing, not only about your scene…
I’ll have to keep an eye out for what you are doing… Probably in somethng like half a year to a year or so…
Yes Kiki, I guess a few months yet. It was a very small job ! Nothing like ‘Emma’ or P&P in terms of scale and production values I’m afraid !
Does anyone have the instructions for Ship’s Cook dance? We do period dancing in my group and this one looks fun.
The music would be great too.
My dance class would LOVE the cribs for it, too. I can get the music easily enough. (Pete, you can download it from itunes here http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/emma-music-from-bbc-television/id340396690 )
We’ve tried watching over again but there are a few parts missed out so there’s no way to be sure.
P.S. Pete, what kind of dancing do you do in general? We do Scottish Country Dancing at our class but this is the kinda dance that was all over the U.K at that time.
We do mainly just period dancing, waltzing, and some folk dancing like Virginia reel, Postes Jig that kind of stuff. Nothing in particular. Email me at email@example.com if you get the dance steps. We prefer these kind of folf dances to the more formal ones.
I would LOVE the instructions (and music, for that matter) for “Ginny’s Market.” I loved that dance (it was so romantic and rather sensual, I think) and would love to be able to learn it. If anyone knows them, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I truely loved this series and thought both JLM and Romola Garai did a very nice job.
After watching that dance scene that “teased my heart” I proclaim those two be forever Emma and her Mr. Knightly to me.
I adored the part at the beginning of the dance where she raised her eyebrows at him in a playful girlish way but by the end of the dance she seemed to have flounderingly awakened into the more mysterious feelings of being a woman.
After all Frank was but a boy, something like a playmate but Mr. Knightly was a mature man who was viewing her with different eyes.
On the other hand if by chance that was just a faux pas because the scene was funny to film I am glad it was left in because that is what I picked up from it.
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