Top Three: Emma Adaptations


About once a year, I watch through all of the film adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels. (One time, my mom and I watched about 6 or 7 versions of Pride and Prejudice over winter break alone. By the end of it, we were so fed up with all things Wickham that we just fast-forwarded his scenes). Emma though has always been one of my favorite Jane Austen novels to read, and it’s adaptations are  some of my favorite movies/miniseries of all time.

Today, I compiled a list of my top three Emma adaptations. Read on to see if your favorite made my cut. 🙂

 Source: Rosie's Chronicles

Source: Rosie’s Chronicles

1. Emma (1972) ~ I’m not overly fond of most of the pre-90’s adaptations of Jane Austen novels, but I love, love, love this one. The plot is done very well, but it’s really the representation of Emma and Harriet that make this my absolute favorite. It’s obvious when watching this that Gwyneth Paltrow took her cues from this Emma. She’s incredibly proper and snooty, and she HATES displays of emotion. I just love her to pieces. As for Harriet, she’s the simplest I’ve ever seen her and she has this incredible appetite (do not leave her in the room with a piece of cake!). I just love the personality these versions of the characters were given. My only negative for this adaptation: There’s no chemistry between Emma and Mr. Knightley. Thankfully, the friendship of Emma and Harriet make up for it.

Source: Ripple Effects

Source: Ripple Effects

2. Emma (2009) ~ My absolutely favorite parts of this adaptation center around Jonny Lee Miller and Romola Garai’s face acting. The expressions they give each other are just priceless. Unlike the 1972 version, this Emma and Knightley have wonderful chemistry and their bickering is adorable. While I don’t think the tone is quite right for Emma (and the characters are a bit more country-bumpkinish that I would like), this version is too cute and funny to miss. The story is also translated really well–although I could do with a bit less Frank Churchill.

Source: So Obsessed With

Source: So Obsessed With

3. Emma (1996) ~ The 1996 film was my introduction to all things Jane Austen. I’m still very, very fond of it because of that, but unfortunately, as an adaptation, it doesn’t really stand alone. The plot is so chopped to bits that it’s difficult to make sense of what’s going on if you haven’t read the book or watched the other miniseries for context. Still, the cast is always what truly made this movie for me. Jeremy Northam will always be “My Mr. Knightley,” and Alan Cumming is absolutely perfect as Mr. Eltons. Really, everyone’s nearly perfect in their roles. It would have been a great, great adaptation–if only they had cut less of the story. Unfortunately, that’s why it has to be third on my list.

Do you have a favorite Emma adaptation? And who’s your Mr. Knightley? 


5 thoughts on “Top Three: Emma Adaptations

  1. I read the book before I saw the movie, which I’m grateful for! I’ve only seen the 96 Emma but I agree with you that Jeremy Northam and Alan Cumming are perfect. Gwyneth Paltrow is pretty good (good enough?) – and I always love Ewan McGregor. But Clueless is really my favorite Emma film, if you count that one.

  2. I watched the ’96 Emma first, but the one from 2009 is my favorite! I love the knightly! Did you watch Emma Approved on youtube? Because it’s a really great representation of a modern-day Emma!

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