Emma (2020) | ADAPTATION REVIEW

I have previously received PR products from Penguin. A Penguin imprint published my edition of Emma.

Many apologies for the delayed post! What with starting my new job, I’ve been falling a little behind on the blog side of things. In the same vein, apologies that some of my posts recently haven’t had images. I’ll try to get myself together by October! Today I’m going back to a post type I haven’t done for a while, and we’re talking film adaptations! My first and only other adaptations post was for Annihilation (2018), which I’ve linked if you’re interested.

Title: Emma (2020)
Available on: Amazon Video (not included in Prime membership)
Rating: U
Adapted from: Emma – Jane Austen

If I haven’t banged on about my love for Jane Austen enough for you to pick it up by now, I’m not sure there’s much I can do to make it any clearer. I adored Pride & Prejudice (review here), and I also really enjoyed Persuasion when I read it for uni. I read Emma fairly recently, as a buddy read with Amy from ReadDreamLive, and didn’t love it as much, but still really enjoyed it. I also wanted to watch the new film adaptation because the trailer looked so funny, so when Mum suggested we watch a film one rainy afternoon, we settled on Emma.

The film stayed pretty true to the text, which I really appreciated. As Austen books are pretty slow plot-wise, there’s not really any need for scenes to be cut from film adaptations, so I was pleased to see all my favourite scenes from the book, and possibly also some additional ones? (Or possibly just smaller scenes from the book that didn’t really stick in my mind, but stood out in the film!). The classic Austen humour was maintained, and Emma’s character really shone through in the way she was originally written. I would’ve hated nothing more than if Emma had been put across as an angelic heroine instead of a nosy meddler, but they stayed as true to the characters as they did to the plot.

There were a fair few actors I recognised — Anya Taylor-Joy in the lead role, Bill Nighy as Mr Woodhouse, and Miranda Hart as Miss Bates to name the most well-known. I thought the film was really well cast, and the actors suited the roles to a T, especially Miranda Hart as Miss Bates. I have to say, I had personally imagined Mr Elton as looking very different to Josh O’Connor, but I thought he did a great job of portraying such a fickle and self-absorbed man. The humour of Mr Elton’s character was stepped up from the original text a bit, which I really enjoyed. The scene of Mr Elton confessing his love to Emma was hilariously put together, and it was one of my favourite scenes in the film.

As a whole, the film was beautifully shot. So many films these days seem to be really dark to me, but Emma was the complete opposite of this. The colours were so bright they hardly seemed real, which initially distracted me a little bit, but then I relaxed into it and just appreciated the beauty of the sets, costumes, and cinematography. I’m always a fan of period films and dramas for the outfits, and in that respect, Emma certainly did not disappoint me! It really brought the larger than life characters from the book, and placed them in the larger than life sets, creating the perfect atmosphere to tell the story.

As I mentioned before, the writing of the film captured the classic Austen humour. While Austen’s wit is often fairly subtle, the film brought it to the forefront and put a bit of a modern spin on it. I really appreciated this slight change, because it meant that a modern audience would have a similar reaction to the film now that Austen’s audience would have had when she was publishing. The entire screenplay was so well-written, allowing the characters to flourish.

I would definitely recommend this Austen adaptation to any fellow Austenites out there. It does add a slightly modern spin to the classic, but only insofar as to ensure a modern audience understands all the jokes and wittiness Austen included in the original. The storyline stays very true to the original text, which is definitely the right choice when adapting Austen for me. After all, why would you mess with such iconic texts? (Unless, of course, it’s to add supernatural creatures *glances at Pride and Prejudice and Zombies*). While the book wasn’t my favourite, I really enjoyed the film, and I think it perhaps tops the other Austen adaptations I’ve seen and takes the position of my favourite Austen adaptation! Sorry, Colin Firth, but handsome alone cannot win the title.

As an adaptation, I would give Emma (2020)…

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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