Monday 16 March 2020

Watching Emma in a Time of Anxiety

On March 14, 2020, I braved the airport and the movie theatre. I'll confess I reconsidered my interprovincial trip more than once, but it's still considered safe and acceptable, so I boarded the half-full airplane, relieved I didn't have any symptoms of illness, and took the one hour flight to see my parents and sister in Alberta.
From Wikipedia

Temperatures below 20 degrees Celsius greeted me upon arrival, but my sister soon whisked me away in her toasty warm car and we headed to our most anticipated afternoon entertaionment - the newest version of Emma in film. It was well-worth braving the elements and a public place. Our fellow Theatre-goers were few, but mighty (I had to ask a gaggle of older women to please put away their phones when the movie started, and I will frequently quote the couple who sat RIGHT BESIDE us in the near-empty theatre as Captain and Mrs. Obvious. I think Jane Austen would enjoy their  commentary.)

The latest Emma film was a celebration of gorgeous costuming, talented acting, unexpected humour, musicality and even some choreography. I was especially excited about seeing Miranda Hart in this film. "You see, this actress is a comedian." Captain Obvious. I discovered her through Call the Midwife, stumbled upon her TV Show Miranda and have been a huge fan ever since. She did not disappoint in her hilarious and sensitive rendition of Miss Bates. I realize I am now closer in age to this character than to Emma. I greatly appreciated this performance.

I was a bit surprised by the introduction of Mr. Knightley, riding home and stripping down for a quick wardrobe change. "I hope he washed himself." The Captain. "Yes, he did. That's why he got naked!" Mrs. Obvious. I believe this was a sort of homage to the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice where Colin Firth jumps in the pond. Mr. Knightley in this film is far less rigid and much more emotional. I distrusted this at first, but was won over by the end.

Emma gets a similar dressing scene where she chooses to warm herself before the fire. "She isn't wearing any underwear!" Captain. "They didn't back then, you know." Mrs. Obvious. I was impressed with this actress's ability to change so believably from disagreeable, spoiled rich-girl to sensitive and thoughtful. She plays Emma very well.

I noticed the scene at Box Hill was not filmed on a hot day as is written in the book. Wind seemed to be a constant problem for outdoor scenes, but they carried on without a hitch. It is the scene on Box Hill which both changes Emma and gives the audience a deeper insight into Miss Bates' difficult life. Or, as Captain Obvious stated "Emma's so spoiled she just said something rude without realizing."

The Ball scene is touching and romantic. "They are falling in love because he touched her." Captain. This leads to an incredible series of hilarious events leading to a lovely proposal scene with an excellent twist.

Finally, Bill Nighy shines in sealing the romance with his chronic fear of drafts and the happy couple is given a moment alone. "Now they have to get married. If you kiss a girl like that, you have to get married." Captain.

It's a wonderful film and one I hope to enjoy several more times, maybe without the commentary. Perhaps it will hurry on to online viewing while we are all social distancing. What a challenging time we are facing. I hope my article has given you a few moments of diversion and the ability to Stay Calm and Wash Your Hands.

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