96 thoughts on “Emma (2020)

  1. The costumes are lovely, very lovely, but I am irrationally bothered by a blond Emma, and Harriet is supposed to be a stunning beauty, and also very well provided for by her unknown parent so she should be as expensively, if not as tastefully, dressed as Emma.
    Knightley is indeed too young and too overtly sexy. And where’s the gravitas?

    1. I second these comments, and I wasn’t even going to see “Emma,” because how many versions does the world need? But as others have noted, Miranda Hart is in it, and therefore I can watch her and the costumes–the latter look so fab, I worry they’ll overwhelm the actors.

    2. I don’t think ‘stunning beauty’ is in any way a legit description of Harriet. It takes some force, some oomph, to be stunning, and that’s what Harriet totally lacks. Austen says she’s ‘a very pretty girl…She was short, plump and fair, with a fine bloom, light blue eyes, light hair, regular features, and a look of great sweetness’. Also mentioned are her ‘soft blue eyes’. But notice: none of the men in the novel are ‘stunned’ by her beauty, and only Mr Martin is seriously attracted to her. (And can anyone imagine Emma Woodhouse taking anyone under her wing who she thought for a moment would outshine her?)

      And no, although Harriet’s well-off tradesman father can afford to send her to be educated in an unassuming country boarding school alongside the daughters of tenant-farming families (though, interestingly, when the novel opens he has only recently been paying the extra to make her a parlour-boarder – has he only now become rich enough to afford that?), it’s exceptionally unlikely that he can afford to make her an allowance anything like what Emma, with her £30,000 ‘portion’, has to spend on her clothes. And if he could, he almost certainly probably wouldn’t feel he ought to – Harriet isn’t in that financial bracket and it would be most unseemly for her to dress as though she were.

    3. I cannot find Harriet described as a ‘stunning’ beauty; only as a ‘very pretty girl…her beauty…of a sort which Emma particularly admired…short, plump and fair…’ And although Harriet’s education has been provided for, there doesn’t seem to be much suggestion that she has much money or even a dowry. Please enlighten me. I obviously need to re-read ‘Emma’ again, as it has been a couple of years since I last did.

      1. Hmmm, yes, I may have been misled by Emma’s admiration for Harriet’s style of looks. However Harriet is described by the narrator as always having enjoyed a comfortable maintenance, and we see her shopping with Emma and buying muslin and ribbons with no apparent concern for cost. Mr. Knightley, who is somewhat prejudiced against her is pleasantly surprised on closer acquaintance to discover she much more converseable than he thought. Harriet isn’t hopeless but Emma is a terrible influence on her. .

      2. In Jane Austen’s day – and her books – the size of a young lady’s ‘portion’ (the contemporary word for a dowry) was generally common knowledge. It needed to be, because that was by far her most important value in the marriage market; whatever Emma protests, looks, accomplishments and personality just don’t have much market value. As Mr Collins in P&P ungallantly pointed out to Lizzy Bennet, “in spite of your manifold attractions, it is by no means certain that another offer of marriage may ever be made you. Your portion is unhappily so small [£1000 in the four per cents] that it will in all likelihood undo the effects of your loveliness and amiable qualifications”.

        Everyone in her social circle knows that Emma has £30,000 (and that’s just her portion; when her father dies, he will presumably leave her half his property as well), which is what makes her the unchallenged queen of Highbury. Mrs Elton has about £10,000 (because she comes from Bristol and nobody in Surrey knows her family, the precise sum isn’t known as it would be for a local lady), and Jane Fairfax’s rich friend has £12,000. Because Mrs Goddard hasn’t discreetly let it be known that Harriet has a portion and how much it is, everybody takes it for granted that she has none (e.g. Mr Knightley says that she has “probably no settled provision at all”) and the last chapter of the book makes clear they are correct.

        In other words, Mystery Papa is paying Harriet’s living expenses to Mrs Goddard, plus, evidently, an allowance to spend as she likes; but has not invested a sum for her in the Regency equivalent of a trust fund or savings account. This means that as soon as he stops paying the bills – which might happen at any time if he were to die without leaving her something in his will, say, or run into financial trouble himself – she would be absolutely penniless. And if she has the good luck to marry a man who can afford to keep her, he might well consider his obligations to her at an end, and not give her anything. (In the event he comes through with a ‘liberal’ sum; but Robert Martin cannot count on this.) This makes her a very undesirable marriage prospect.

        It’s clear also that Mystery Papa has no social aspirations for her. He has sent her to a ‘common school’, where she will certainly not have any posh companions, and when she turns 17 he pays extra to make her a parlour-boarder (i.e. she now has a room of her own and is treated socially as though she were a member of the principal’s family). So from then on she will mix with Mrs Goddard’s acquaintances. (And it’s pure fluke that the richest gentleman in the neighbourhood is a nervous valetudinarian whose daughter needs a team of impoverished gentlewomen who are grateful to drop what they’re doing to come over and amuse him patiently whenever she wants to go out for the evening. Had Mr Woodhouse been any more active or self-sufficient, Mrs Goddard would only have been on the outer fringe of the Hartfield social circle at best.) As Mr Knightley says: “whoever may have had the charge of her, it does not appear to have been any part of their plan to introduce her into what you would call good society. After receiving a very indifferent education she is left in Mrs. Goddard’s hands to shift as she can;—to move, in short, in Mrs. Goddard’s line, to have Mrs. Goddard’s acquaintance. Her friends evidently thought this good enough for her”. And (provided the fees keep coming) he assumes that unless she can find someone to marry her “she may be a parlour-boarder at Mrs. Goddard’s all the rest of her life”.

        Jane Austen could take for granted that her contemporary readers would realise that Emma had done a truly terrible thing in whimsically deciding that Harriet was too good for Robert Martin and talking her into aspiring above her station. 21st-century readers, and see how culpably self-deluding she was for refusing to see this until the very end of the book.

        1. Sorry, I thought I had deleted the phrase ’21st-century readers’ in that last sentence!

        2. Don’t be too hard on Harriet’s tradesman father. He shows an admirable sense of responsibility towards his little accident, he sees she is educated and maintained in a respectable way and given his own status his aspirations for her are reasonable. In this time and place openly acknowledging Harriet and taking her into his home would hurt him and his legitimate family without doing Harriet any good. Somebody like Robert Martin was probably exactly what he was hoping for in a son in law.

          1. I agree with you 100%, and I didn’t mean that to come across as disapproving at all. As you say, he has acted honourably in line with Regency notions of ‘decency’ (Austen’s word), sensibly, and generously. Compare him, for example, with Mrs Jennings in S&S. She, like many of his neighbours, believes that the girl whose upbringing Colonel Brandon has been paying for is his by-blow, and when anticipating his offering marriage to Marianne Dashwood she says breezily ” Two thousand a year
            without debt or drawback — except the little love-child, indeed; aye, I had forgot her; but she may be ‘prenticed out at a small cost, and then what does it signify?” Yeah, right, park her in a millnery shop, that’s the cheap way to wash your hands of your daughter!

            1. I am sure that Colonel Brandon and Marianne will do much better than that for Eliza and her baby.

              1. I’m sure. But it’s one of the small sudden jabs of cold reality that Austen now and again slips into her books: we’ve got to know Mrs Jennings as a kindly warmhearted busybody, and now we realise that to her an illegitimate daughter is just an encumbrance to be disposed of for as little expense as possible.

                1. In fairness to Mrs. Jennings she’s interested in Elinor and Marianne and so dismissive of anything or anybody who might impede their interests. If she were to become acquainted with Eliza she’d probably become interested in her fate. Which Eliza might well regard as a very mixed blessing!

        3. Phew, that was a long reply. Thank you. I did actually understand all of this as I am a (retired) historian specialising in the Georgian social period and have read Emma many, many times.
          But I find it interesting how others interpret the same words I read in sometimes very different ways. So I wondered how what I had read as a very pretty girl had become a stunning beauty. Also always thought of Harriet’s unknown benefactor as merely being a comfortably well off tradesman who did his duty, but wasn’t going to be providing Harriet with a great deal of ‘pin’ money for expensive clothing or other extras.
          So Harriet was pretty and sweet natured and a suitable match for Robert Martin, but lacked the economic, social or even physical attractions necessary to be a potential wife for any man from the higher echelons of society. Stunning beauty would at least make her some sort of competition for Emma herself, whereas Mr Knightley only compliments Emma on Harriet’s personal manners.
          I don’t believe Georgian society in south-east England in the first part of the 19th century would have seen what Emma did as a ‘truly terrible thing’, but rather as unrealistic and possibly unkind (Mr Knightley) and/or ridiculous (Mr Elton).

          1. Definitely unkind.
            Emma herself considers Harriet a considerable beauty and argues that her looks will make a gentleman overlook her antecedents. Mr. Knightley, more realistically insists that men of sense want more than a pretty face, Emma denies this contemptuously.
            Knightley himself values character and intelligence highly. When he gets to know Harriet better he is favorably impressed by her personality and finds her somewhat brighter than he expected. He is in short convinced that Robert Martin has chosen better than he, Knightley, at first believed. He even says that a sensible man would regard Harriet as a better match than Mrs. Elton. Not it must be admitted a high bar!

            1. Rereading Emma I see Emma bases her belief that Harriet’s father is a gentleman of fortune on Harriet’s ‘very liberal allowance’.

              1. It is really all laid out in Emma and Mr Knightley’s argument in Vol I: Chapter VIII. Emma is playing at dolls and romantic nonsense, while Mr Knightley is practical and has the greater knowledge of what men want which is not ‘silly wives’ or to be involved in ‘inconvenience and disgrace…when the mystery’ of Harriet’s parentage is revealed.
                But away from discussions of the writing and back to costumes. I now want to go back and watch my other film and television versions of Emma to see how Harriet is portrayed and dressed. I also want to look at Miss Bates, as I think she is much too well dressed in this latest version.

                1. I totally agree about Miss Bates. Her clothes all look brand spanking new; distressed to look a bit faded and frayed, perhaps the dye having run just a bit in the wash, they would have been great. Same with her feathers; we all know to our cost that feathers can so easily get knackered by accident, and soon start to look tired even if they don’t. And all that jewellery and a lovely expensive fan? Yes, the Bateses were once prosperous, but they have been strapped for cash for years now; no way would she not have sold such valuable items. And all that lace and gauzy neckwear was not only madly expensive to buy, but required very elaborate laundering and setting by specialist laundresses; so it cost money to wear, too.

                  1. Miss Bates might have kept a few pieces of finery from the old days To be trotted out on very special occasions but she shouldn’t be so dressy.

          2. The 2020 version of “Emma” depicts Harriet defiantly telling Emma that her father is a tradesman who makes galoshes. The fact that Emma invites Harriet to bring her father along for a visit is meant to show how much more broad-minded “Emma” has become over the course of the story. In the beginning, Emma makes a point of stressing that Harriet’s father must be a “gentleman” and implies that Harriet is too well-bred to marry a farmer. I think it is interesting that Jane Austen is considered prim by many readers. She actually seemed to understand the issues of illegitimacy, infidelity and the seduction of underage girls. For the daughter of a clergyman living in the countryside, she was surprisingly sophisticated.

            1. Having Harriet ‘defiantly telling Emma that her father is a tradesman who makes galoshes’ is yet another attempt to modernise Jane Austen and give her our sensibilities. Inviting the father for a visit just would not have happened for, if nothing else, it would have simply embarrassed the man and his family. Emma has more manners than to do something like that.

              Jane Austen didn’t just live in a small rural setting; she had well-to-do relatives and was related to the aristocracy. She often went to stay with her relatives, some quite well off, and lived in both Bath and Southampton. Four of her brothers went out into the world and would have written home about it, even if they could not visit. The family loved to read and talk. Of course, she would have understood the issues of illegitimacy, infidelity and the seduction of underage girls. In one of her letters, she tells her sister that she has actually seen an ‘adulteress’.
              But something people often ignore today is that her religion was very important to her and was at the core of her being. She may have known about these things, but that does not mean she would have approved. In that time, such things undermined the very society she lived in. She was neither rebelling against that society, nor her religion, but rather observing all the quirks in human nature that make people so interesting.
              It saddens me that today we cannot be broad-minded enough ourselves and accept Jane Austen’s world as it was. Modernising it does nothing to help us understand the past.

    4. Interestingly, since both the article and your comment mention it, the sixteen-year gap in age between Mr Knightley and Emma is never mentioned in the film, yet Johnny Flynn is 37, and Anya Taylor-Joy is (I think) 23. Which puts both of the actors right at the ages of the characters in the book, give or take a year or two for Taylor-Joy.

      1. Glad someone else mentioned it, because that’s exactly what I was coming to say! Poor Johnny Flynn–everyone saying he’s too young to play Knightley when he’s actually exactly the right age! In fact, he’s older than both Mark Strong (33) and Jeremy Northam (35) were when they played the role. I think casting two actors who are actually the correct ages actually nicely displays how the age gap between Knightley and Emma, while quite large, isn’t necessarily as big as people visualize.

        1. Just read this again and what do they mean when they say men didn’t wear underwear then. Male underwear of some form had been around for centuries. Tucking a shirt between your legs may have worked for some or those who couldn’t afford drawers, but it wouldn’t be very comfortable, nor would it be guaranteed to stay in place unless you sat around all day. Might work for Mr. Woodhouse, but not an active man like Mr. Knightley.

          1. Yes, that’s way off beam. Drawers were certainly worn by middle and upper-class men; knee-length if wearing breeches and stockings, longer if wearing pantaloons. There’s a footed pair made of stockinette, dated c 1795, in the V&A. Stockinette, being more figure-hugging than linen or flannel, came in as the fashionably tight Regency outline developed, though the older materials continued in use. Underpants cut to fit under breeches were often called ‘breeches linings’; logical as they were the same shape as the breeches and functioned essentially as washable linings.

      1. Actually, no. We know she has ‘the true hazle [sic] eye’, because Mrs Weston says so; but nothing else about her colouring does Austen vouchsafe.

  2. Ooooh! I’ll have to go see it. I adore lotsa little details. Some you don’t even see without screenshots, but it really says something about the production that they take the time for the subtle bits any way. Though this time period of fashion would look horrid on me, I find it very interesting. Thanks for such a detailed review!

  3. I’m very excited to see this version, just for Miranda, as Miss Bates. Emma is my favourite Austen story, and character.
    Really like what you had to say about the film, now I’ve just got to find a cinema that’s closer than 200kms away, to see it.
    Thank you.

  4. That red net dress from V&A was so pretty!The real one.It looked so perfectly modern,but I missed those horizontal bands in the movie.Without them,the skirt looks very cute but a bit plain,still very sleek.To be honest I had earlier scene that dress on Dreamstress and it took me a while to believe that it was really from the regency.As somebody who finds regency fashion unflattering on most people,the said dress looks like haute couture to me.
    Emma really surprised me with its costumes,considering who the designer was.

    1. It’s a lovely dress – I saw it only a few weeks ago. It’s French and from ~1810, so slightly off-period, arguably, but probably not enough to matter.

      1. I’ve never been lucky enough to see the dress in person but I’ve admired photographs.

  5. You made me want to actually pay money to see this in the theatre. I was going to wait for the DVD. More later gotta take my mom to md.

  6. I saw it yesterday. The fabric shop was an interesting backdrop, but seemed too fancy for the town. I wondered, are Emma’s purchases singlehandedly keeping this place afloat?

    1. Fords is an important location in the novel, but has a rather broader range of stock – Frank buys gloves there, which you wouldn’t find in a dedicated fabric shop.

  7. I’m not a big fan of this. Typically I love all Austen movies, but this one was a big “no.” I suppose it’s because I find Anya Taylor-Joy extremely aggravating, and her roles seem to absorb her actual personality. Also, Knightley is ugly. He’s supposed to be considerably older than Emma, yet he looks like he is five years older, at the most.

  8. I think Johnny Flynn is old enough to play Mr. Knightley. He might not look it, but the man is 36.

    1. Right? Jeremy Northam and Gwyneth Paltrow were 35 and 24 when they played Emma and Knightley. Johnny Flynn and Anya Taylor-Joy are 26 and 23. I don’t see a problem here.

      We’re so used to seeing actors paired with actresses 20 years younger that I think we have skewed perception about what age difference really looks like in a film.

        1. Oh my word, Kate Beckinsale and Mark Strong were even closer in age! 23 and 33. He has such a mature face, I thought he was in his forties. And Romola Garai and Johnny Lee Miller were 27 and 37! So ATJ and JF’s pairing is the most accurate in the last 30 years.

  9. The costumes look amazing and very accurate, but I have one question for anyone who has seen this movie: Does Mr. Knightley remark to Mrs. Weston that Emma is NOT “personally vain,” as he does in the book? I hope he doesn’t, because it sounds as though THIS Emma is too obsessed with her appearance for that to be believable.

    The same issue was present with Gwyneth Paltrow’s Emma, where she had those ridiculously complex hairdos and a new dress for practically every scene. IMO, the costumes in the Kate Beckinsale and Romola Garai versions are much better at getting across the idea that “[Emma’s] vanity lies another way.”

      1. That’s strange. Alexandra Byrne’s comments about Emma always needing to make sure that she looks prettier than Harriet imply that Emma is very vain of her person. I don’t expect adaptations to be 100% faithful, but if you’re going to make changes like that, then the dialogue should be changed, too. IMO, in the book, Emma is very secure about her own appearance (which is why she’s able to be so taken with Harriet’s beauty, and is perfectly willing to praise Jane Fairfax’s complexion and Mrs. Elton’s dress), and doesn’t feel the need to compete with other women in that way. She IS jealous of Jane’s accomplishments and general elegance, though.

        That aside, the gowns and hair are truly excellent. I am impressed with the attention to detail. Colored “slips” under sheer white muslins were indeed common in the Regency, and they are hardly ever used in these productions. And, like them or not, the men’s sideburns are accurate to the late 1810s. At least no one has the scruffy stubble that we see in the BBC Sanditon.

        1. NOT BBC!!!!!!

          ITV, and Andrew Davis going all out to shock. (Can you tell I hated it?)

        2. Also, in the very end of the novel, when describing Emma’s wedding Jane Austen mentions that “the parties [Mr. Knightley and Emma] have no taste for finery or parade”, so Emma’s outfits are unlikely to be so very elaborate as they are shown in the movie. Emma’s taste is shown as opposite to that of Mrs. Elton. In this adaptation both women are way “over-trimmed”, Emma more so than Mrs. Elton.

    1. A variation of the line was in the movie. Something like she isn’t as vain as she could be given how handsome she is. I can’t remember the actual wording. The way it was reworded made more sense in the film than if they used the original line

  10. I agree with the other comments that the costumes and other historically accurate details are fantastic. I think about the best in a very very long time. It looks like no expense was spared. I didn’t feel there was a need for still another Emma, but there was a need for such lovely, appropriate costumes and hair. Thanks for your post Guys!

  11. Is the patchwork cardigan Harriet wears the same one Abbie Cornish wears in Bright Star?

  12. I just can’t handle that blonde shade on ATJ. It’s so at odds with her coloring that it grates. And the casting, with the exception of Miranda, just seems completely off. Won’t waste the money at the cinema, and doubt I’ll watch it later. Your great rundown of the costuming details is all I need (and honestly, all I’d watch the movie for anyway).

  13. Something about the costumes bugged me and struck me as weird. Too much layering? The awkward-as-hell collars? I just kept staring at her clothes and thinking, “There is something wrong… but I have no idea what.” The tiny ringlets were distracting; Emma was at her most adorable when she had her hair in rag curls! (Which, btw, would not produce the ramin tiny ringlets.)

    This movie… I don’t know how I feel about it and it’s been two days since I’ve seen it. There were good things, bad things, confusing things (WHY the weird, really loud folk music / singing at odd moments / transitions?), and some stuff I just plain hated — like Knightley being made up to be as deeply unattractive (to me, I guess some of your commenters found him sexy?) as possible. I hated the haircut. Hated the styling of it. Hated the awful sideburns.

    Also, why did Knightley and Frank Churchill have the exact same color of coat? Was bright yellow ‘in’ that season or something?

    I thought the Eltons and Miss Bates were great. Frank wasn’t evil enough. Emma grew on me. I liked Knightley fine, but… sorry, been in love with Northam’s far more dashing and flirty Knightley for decades and that ain’t about to change.

    1. I feel like Frank wasn’t DEVELOPED enough to be evil, or a real possible option for Emma, now that I think about it…

      1. Exactly. It took him an hour to show up and then the only ‘nasty’ thing he did was goad Emma on at the picnic; it never showed him leading her on in any way, it never showed him being mean to Jane, etc. He was… almost an afterthought.

  14. Emma’s my favorite Austen book, so I knew I was bound to enjoy myself, but I was taken aback at just how beautiful the costumes and visuals were!

    In several scenes, Emma is wearing a pair of white elbow length gloves with scalloped edges. Does anyone know how period appropriate they are? (Accurate or not, I loved them!)

  15. I greatly dislike Emma, as a book or movie. Hated her character too much to become invested. Would rather see a new Persuasion if they must keep doing this…

  16. WHAT was going on with the way the men’s coats fastened with two buttons on a cord instead of properly buttoning? That looked very strange. The hats-with just a little more research could have been truly wonderful, I thought there were too many obviously modern trims and the colored straw was annoying. And some of them were awfully busy with too much trimming. And yes, the odd colors peeping out of the necklines were rather jarring. But overall- they did well with the clothing. Nice to see a REAL effort made and not just Halloween costumes.

    1. Hmmm… I feel like I’ve seen the cord type closure on WOMEN’S 18th c. riding jackets — wondering if it’s an 18th c. thing? Or am I making this up?

      1. I took note of that closure on the men’s jackets because I didn’t recognise it, then a few days later stumbled across it on a male fashion plate… wish I’d saved a link, because it appears it did exist, even if it wasn’t as common as the film makes out. I suppose it saves them from having to hand stitch a buttonhole.

  17. I read – and saw a photo of – a Spencer from which the pink one was copied …. on exhibit in London, private textile collector

    Bear with, bear with
    (Miranda fan as well ….)

        1. I saw it, in that exhibition, just a few weeks ago! It’s terrific. My feeling is that the colour has faded, and that originally it was probably a slightly brighter pink. And I suspect that the costumiers just reckoned that the wonderful layers of piped leaves/scales the original collar and cuffs were just too much work, which is a pity. And the faintly military looped detailing on the (not-fluted, not-below-the-wrist) sleeve-ends of the original match the rest of the garment.

          The original spencer has no tails. I can’t find a pic online showing the whole of the back, this is the closest I could get: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/4e/d1/f0/4ed1f0193cfe55061380793f2e89d3c5.jpg.
          As on the front, the two curving ‘ostrich feathers’ of piping just run down to the lower edge of the waistband and stop.

  18. My big problem is this Emma is my idea of Harriet, beautiful and blond. And Knightley would imo be a very fine Frank Churchill.

      1. Knightley and Mrs. Weston have quite a little duet about Emma’s looks, her healthy we’ll set up figure and hazel eyes, but agree that she isn’t at all vain of her looks. Instead she admires her own social intelligence and skills as a manipulater, two points on which she is totally delusional. Emma admires Harriet’s blond ingenue beauty with the wholeheartedness of a woman who is totally secure. She also spins quite a little fantasy about Harriet being a gentleman’s little accident, if not a nobleman’s, a Cinderella who she, Emma the Great, will groom and put in her proper sphere.
        Harriet is not the sharpest knife in the drawer but she is quite bright enough to understand that her illegitimacy is a major social handicap, that she is quite lucky to be so well provided for, and that prying into her origins will bring her only pain. She is perfectly satisfied with her level and has found herself a fine man who loves her – until Emma comes along and turns her, Harriet’s, head with notions about a higher sphere and better match.

    1. That very old BBC version, with Doran Goodwin, had the perfect Harriet, in terms of looks – bubbly, almost frothy blonde hair, enormous blue eyes.

  19. I loved most of Emma’s costumes, especially the pink spencer. I did think some of the layered looks were off. Her footwear was great, and I liked almost all of her hats. I would have liked to have seen her wear more varied hairstyles. She only wore slight variations of the same style. I feel like someone who took such care with her clothes and accessories would also change up her hairstyle more.

    Miss Bates’s clothes (and home) seemed finer than I picture. When Mr. Knightley scolds Emma for being mean to her, specifically because she’s poor, that didn’t feel like something we had seen. And she kind of steps on his line about how Miss Bates used to be so special to Emma, and she has only greater poverty to look forward to. But I didn’t think her home and clothes portrayed that. I think she should have had fewer accessories and worn the same outfit more than once.

    Mr. Knightley did seem younger and scruffier than I picture him. I guess Jeremy Northam is still my favorite Knightley.

    Storywise, I will have to think over some of the choices that were made, to see if I ultimately agree with them. But I definitely don’t get the nosebleed; it really ruined that scene for me because it was so jarring. They didn’t really make it seem like Emma and Frank might be a couple. Not much Miss Bates compared to other versions, so we don’t see how ridiculous she is. Emma and Knightley are so clearly hot for each other at the ball that it doesn’t seem like she could be truly convinced he’s in love with Harriet. I’m not sure why we needed to see Knightley and Emma’s butts.

  20. Director de Wilde talked about wanting to emphasize how much Emma and Mr. Knightley were the same . . .

    The same what? Why did de Wilde have this need to ensure that Emma and Mr. Knightley’s costume choices were a reflection of them being . . . “the same”?

  21. I loved many of the costumes – the back of Emma’s gold pelisse was wonderful, in particular. I did feel Harriet needed to be more of a stereotyped blonde, however – much more excessive hero-worship of Emma needed, too. I found it bizarrely hard to tell Knightley and Churchill apart; the latter should have had much more “town bronze” about his clothing, so darker coats, more shiny buttons, perhaps.

    I went expecting to have to restrain my mockery – I’m an Austen buff and there was a ten-year-old with us – but was pleasantly surprised by most of it, though I was sorry the strawberry picking was left out.

    There’s a yellow-gem cross Emma wears which looks to me like a replica of Austen’s own, given to her by a sailor brother, which was a touch I liked.

    1. I remember Austen joking in her letters that her brother would never get ahead by spending his prize money on expensive gifts for his sister’s. It was really a very touching thing for him to do. He must have been missing Cassandra and Jane, or at least thinking about them a good deal.

  22. I just saw this yesterday! The costumes were great, I feel like this production had a lot of fun with its time period, and that any weirdness resulted from them experimenting with fashionable Regency styles a bit too much rather than trying to make things ‘modern’ or ‘not too weird’. Still a lot of white dresses, but with so much fun embroidery and lace and a bunch of colored overlayers, so that was refreshing! I also liked the styled hair and many bonnets, and although I don’t like tights with ballet flats for men I have to give them props for not having them wear boots at parties :P The movie itself felt a bit too stylized for me, I felt like the 2009 miniseries got me a lot more invested in these characters, while this was more like a comedy where everyone is a bit of a caricature. I’ve never heard as many people laugh at a period piece as I did yesterday, lol! I understand why they did it in this way though, with so many existing adaptations it’s also commendable that they wanted to go in a different direction, I guess?

  23. The nosebleed was seriously weird. We had to have an immediate whispered conference to discuss how weird it was.

  24. I did end up loving it, I would have gone to see it for Miranda Hart and Bill Nighy if nothing else (though I did find him a bit too fit and bouncy for Mr. Woodhouse — what was that jump down the stairs? NO.) I was surprised to learn Johnny Flynn is nearly the right age for Mr. Knightley (fun fact: he’s the younger brother of Jerome Flynn, Bronn from Game of Thrones).

    And that nosebleed was a real needle scratch. WTF

    I did not realize until this post that Mrs. Elton’s bow was her ACTUAL HAIR and nearly spit out my drink all over my laptop. Now I’m trying to figure out how they got it to set without hairspray. Glue? Egg whites? (I knew kids in the 80s who used Elmer’s to keep their mohawks in place).

    At any rate, I think I need to see it again and examine the details. Can’t wait for the DVD to come out so I can freeze-frame it.

  25. Johnny Flynn is very pretty and looks younger than he is. I do not picture Mr. Knightley as a pretty, pouting young man. On the other hand that’s exactly how I picture Frank Churchill!

    1. I wouldn’t call him Johnny Flynn “pretty” or handsome. But he’s not a dog and he does look younger than his age.

  26. I just rented this on Apple TV.

    It looks really beautiful and I do like the costumes. But the tone of it is odd. As if it is going to turn into David Lynch does Jane Austen.

    I think the standouts were Nighy as Mr. Woodhouse. A hale Woodhouse isn’t wrong. The character is needy and a hypochondriac. He has everyone catering to his every need and he likes it just fine. I thought Josh O’Connor was very funny as Mr. Elton. He got the smarmy social climber aspect just right.

    The others were ok. I suppose Taylor-Joy is one of the most accurate Emmas, personality wise. She has a different looking face which appears strangely alien at times. It kept distracting me.

    This is one where if I ever purchase it, I will watch it with the sound turned off just so I can admire the set design and the clothing.

  27. I definitely picked up on the similarities in design to Coppola’s Marie Antoinette (which is one of my favourite movies, but I think the style was more suited to the Baroque/Rococo styles than to Regency fashion)
    And yes, Miranda Hart was awesome, as she is in everything.
    But aside form that I didn’t like this adaption too much. I have a nostalgic fondness of the numerous Austen adaptions from the early 2000s, so I prefer the 2009 mini-series in design, characterization and story adaption (of course a mini series has a lot more time to develop everything)
    And one thing I really hated was all those weird focus-shots on the servants and their reactions to the antics of the characters as if the director wanted to hit us over the head with some rather obvious statement about how servants didn’t have a very easy life (really? I would have never guessed).
    It’s even weirder since no servant even has a speaking part in the movie or the novel.

  28. I agree with many of the comments, that some elements of the costuming were off. The first thing that jarred: Emma’s small, stiff ringlets were just wrong – stylistically they belong to the early Victorian era, as did Mrs. Elton’s big central bow. In addition, the curls were too crunchy. LBCC Historical Apothecary sells authentic hair setting “pomades” on Etsy, with photos of hair styled with them. The results are very firm but still soft-looking curls.

    I thought Emma’s wardrobe was also too elaborate, and the bright yellow outfit seemed anachronistic, but a look at Ackermann’s Repository Fashion Plates (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Ackermann%27s_Repository_of_Arts_-_fashion_plates) put those criticisms to rest. A little more research revealed that the strong yellow was “evening primrose” and it is seen in Ackermann’s mainly as an accessory color. The fashion plates did confirm that ringlets at the back of the head were not worn in the time period. And yes, the ladies should have worn long sleeves as daywear.

    Men, especially dandies, would have indeed worn tighter trousers, even knit ones. Lightweight leather (buckskin) trousers would have been put on wet so as to mold to the leg. Mr. Knightley wouldn’t have cared to be so fashionable, but his character would have had much neater hair.

    Miss Bates wore beautiful costumes but the character is supposed to be impoverished and wouldn’t have had so many ornate lace pieces. Wearing the same one over and over would have been more accurate.

    Here are some additional references:
    Article titled “Hierarchy and Seduction in Regency Fashion”

    Article about colors – https://www.janeausten.co.uk/colours-of-the-regency/

    Article about hair styles – https://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2009/11/07/regency-hairstyles-and-their-accessories/

    1. I agree with you. The film mainly failed for me because of the characterisation, which the costuming didn’t help. Emma was a pert miss and her clothes more those of a London miss than someone living in a small Surrey village. Miss Bates was made to be ridiculous caricature and her clothing conveyed nothing of her straitened circumstances. But most of all I disliked Jonny Flynn’s portrayal of Mr. Knightley, perhaps simply because I just could not believe that Mr. Knightley would dress as anything other than a gentleman farmer; that extreme collar on a man famous for walking rather than using his carriage. The whole film was played for laughs (that ridiculous nosebleed) and showed only the most superficial understanding of Jane Austen’s writing. Grrrr!

  29. The first spencer in this post looks like the inspiration for Emma’s pink spencer – https://stephaniesmart.wixsite.com/thehiddenwardrobe/post/chertsey-museum-fashion-collection-spencer-jackets

    The little ruffs worn in the movie were a late-Regency fashion for Tudor ruffs. All but one fashion plate or portrait (that I could find) show them worn as a collar for a chemisette (underblouse) – but one portrait shows it on bare skin like a choker, above the blouse. So, while it looks weird to us, it’s not inaccurate.

  30. The guy who plays Knightly is like 37 or 36 irl! Compared to a 22 year old Anya Taylor I think he is well old enough, even if he’s not the full 16 years he’s damn close.

  31. You missed Mr. Martin, who was wearing strange shirts through the whole movie, although he should be a clever men etc. not a Gartenzwerg.

    I didn’t liked the clothes of Mr. Woodhouse eighter, which were looking more 1820s-1830s although he should be the oldest male person in the story. The D.Lawrence-version from 1996 did a very good job with Mr. Woodhouse as he is portrayed old fashioned but not too old fashioned to be belivable. His (very nice 1790s) wig in this film reflects his attempt to always have a warm head.

    The haircut of Mr. Frank Churchill in the 2020 film is just too modern and we would assume that he would have the most laborious hairstyle as everybody think that he is a dandy who went to his hairdresser in London which would make more sense if we would see him with great Attention to his hair. Mr. Darcy in 1995-P&P has the hairdo we would love on Frank Churchill.

    After looking the 1996 Version (naturally D.Lawrence’s film) yesterday I wonder why anybody should praise the 2020-film. Even the cast was great with the perfect Harriet Smith (Samantha Morton) and Miss Bates (Prunela Scales). Mrs. Weston was portrayed more conving too (by Samantha Bond) and Jane Fairfax (Olivia Williams!) too.

    Both films made Mr. Elton looking stupid by the strange neck covering. I would prefer to show him as stupid by his own actions (as David Bamber did it perfectly as Mr. Collins).

    I think that 2020 “Emma” is OK and the costumes are not too bad although there are some led downs. Anya Taylor-Joy and Johnny Flynn however did a decent job. Lovely performance.

  32. The cardigan worn by Harriet is a costume from the film Bright Star designed by Janet Patterson.

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