I watched this with my husband, who is not familiar with the book, and felt that the beginning of this adaptation would be a little bewildering to somebody who doesn’t know the background, as we rattle through the dearth of parents that Jane Fairfax, Frank Churchill and Emma have. This way of showing it though, directly comparing the three characters, who all faced losses at such a young age, really underlined how lucky Emma was for the time. Of the three, she is the only one who stays in the same home. She is doted upon and loved unconditionally. Soon we see Emma as a grown adult and start to appreciate the restricted life she has to live, day after day, with no holidays, no visits outside her very small circle of acquaintances and no likelihood of it ever changing, not that she yearns for anything different.
I am always interested to see what is made of Jane Fairfax and here I was a little disappointed, as she is not prominent, which is a shame, as I find her an interesting character. Frank Churchill is not sympathetically portrayed at all – usually I am pretty ambivalent towards him, but here I joined Mr Knightley in disliking him heartily!
|Bertram or Knightley?!|
|Mark Strong from the 1996 mini series of Emma|