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Posts Tagged ‘Jodhi May’

I’m sorry to be so late in saying anything about the second episode of the new BBC Emma, but I’ve had a frantically busy week at work and haven’t had time to string two words together! However, I have now managed to see the episode twice and, to be honest, have slightly mixed feelings about it. This will really just be a few disjointed thoughts rather than a proper review, as the time I have available is still quite short – I feel a bit like Miss Bates going over her latest letter from Jane, and will have to bring my thoughts into some sort of order at the end of the  series.

Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller

Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller

I am still enjoying the series and impressed by the beauty of the scenery and the whole world which has been created. I’m also impressed by the actors’ performances – especially Michael Gambon as Mr Woodhouse and Jodhi May and Robert Bathurst as the Westons – yet I feel increasingly that perhaps too much of Austen’s satiric bite has been lost, that the story has been softened too much round the edges. And yes, I do still miss the language of the novel. However, while feeling slightly disappointed at the moment, I remember having doubts about previous Sandy Welch adaptations and being won over in the end – her version of Jane Eyre is one of my favourite costume dramas of recent years, for all its departures from the book – so it may well be that her Emma will grow on me just as much.

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I’ve now seen the first episode of the eagerly-awaited new BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma starring Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller, slightly belatedly since I was working on Sunday evening.

Michael Gambon, Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller

Michael Gambon, Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller

I’ve actually watched it twice now –  initially I was impressed by the gorgeous costumes, sunlit green landscapes and chocolate-box houses, but disappointed that there seems to be little of Austen’s own language and above all her wit. However, I liked it better the second time, which I find is how I often react to adaptations of favourite novels. Screenwriter Sandy Welch’s previous adaptations include  Our Mutual Friend (1998) and Jane Eyre (2006) – I came to love both of these, but they took a time to grow on me, and I think the same might be true of her version of Emma. (The director of this version, Jim O’Hanlon, has directed many contemporary series for British TV, but I think this is his first historical drama, so I don’t recognise his style as yet. )

So far, I do like Garai as Emma – she gives the character a sort of mischievous, luminous quality, making her seem younger and more naive than I’d imagined her, but also making it believable that she can get so many people to do her bidding. I’m not so sure, yet, about Miller as Mr Knightley – he seems a little stuffy so far, and his remonstrating with Emma too often comes across as one-upmanship and nagging rather than the desire to bring out what is best in her.  Though maybe that is intentional, I suppose, and he will be shown changing later.

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After watching the Andrew Davies version of Middlemarch, I was keen to see his other major George Eliot adaptation, Daniel Deronda. Unfortunately, as with so many of the other films I keep writing about, it isn’t available on DVD in region 2 –though  it used to be, and I’m using the sleeve of the deleted DVD as an illustration since I prefer it to the region 1 sleeve. So, once again, I had to buy on import.

DanielDerondasleeve2Watching this not so long after Middlemarch, it struck me just how many similarities there are between the two dramas, and, of course, also between the two source novels. Both have a heroine and a hero who are not romantically destined for one another, but who become friends and whose stories sometimes counterpoint one another.  Both also show the central characters constantly hemmed in and pressured by other people’s expectations.

In Daniel Deronda, Daniel and Gwendolen meet in the series’ opening scene, at the casino in Monte Carlo, and, looking at this beautiful young couple, you might well think they are going to end up together – but, in fact, their stories are about to fork off in very different directions, only occasionally intertwining.

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I’m a little late in picking up on this, as I’ve had pretty well zero time for surfing, posting or anything else much lately. But, anyway, I have just caught up with the news that the BBC has finally announced its cast for the new production of Austen’s Emma, scripted by Sandy Welch.

Or, at least, they have announced most of the lead actors – as yet there is no news on who will play two of the key roles, Jane Fairfax and Harriet Smith, though they must have been cast, as filming starts next week in Kent. Here’s a link to the BBC press release. 

Romola Garai, who starred in Atonement and the BBC Daniel Deronda, takes the title role, with Jonny Lee Miller, who played Edmund in the 1999 Mansfield Park, as Mr Knightley, and Michael Gambon as Mr Woodhouse – he was so brilliant in Wives and Daughters and a host of other dramas that I just can’t wait to see him in this part! There is only a ten-year age gap between Garai and Miller, but I don’t suppose that will matter too much. Jodhi May, who played alongside Garai in Deronda, plays Miss Taylor. 

Thought I’d add links to a couple of newspaper reports – here’s one from the Daily Telegraph , mainly focusing on Romola Garai, and another from a Kent local news website, Your Canterbury, mainly about the location and how the period look is being recreated there.

Just updating this posting  (April 18) to say that more cast members are now known – many thanks to Charley from the Enchanted Serenity blog for alerting me to this. The BBC still hasn’t confirmed any of the new names as far as I’m aware, but the imdb page for this production has now been updated to add the extra names – Blake Ritson as Mr Elton, Christina Cole as Mrs Elton, Rupert Evans as Frank Churchill, Dan Fredenburgh as John Knightley, Louise Dylan as Harriet Smith and Laura Pyper as Jane Fairfax. The best-known to me out of these is Blake Ritson, who I thought was excellent as Edmund in the recent ITV Mansfield Park. Rupert Evans had a small part as Frederick Hale in the BBC’s North and South  and Christina Cole played Blanche in Sandy Welch’s adaptation of Jane Eyre as well as Caroline Bingley in Lost in Austen.

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