Author has written 15 stories for Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Sailor Moon, Legend of the Seeker, Emma, Prince of Persia, and John Carter.
I have been writing fanfic since I was 13, which was many many many years ago. My prose has, hopefully, improved over the years. You can probably see how it increases in maturity over the years as I've wound through my varying "shipper" obsessions such as Han and Leia, Buffy and Spike, Hermione and Draco, Eowyn and Faramir, and now, for some reason, Emma and Mr. Knightley, a couple which I long thought to lack any chemistry whatsoever.
That is, until I saw the new BBC 2009 miniseries. Now I am completely infatuated with it, and Emma the book has been catapulted to the top of my list of favorites. The mini-series has generated a lot of criticism, but I can't understand any of it. Perhaps audiences were predisposed to dislike it after being subjected to the mostly-terrible ITV adaptions of Persuasion and Mansfield Park in 2007? (I will never forgive Sally Hawkins for accepting a script that had her running through Bath like a chicken with her head cut off, while the tourist safety railings were clearly visible in the foreground.) I thought this adaption of Emma was the truest Austen adaption I'd ever seen, while at the same time injecting a vitality that I had never imagined while the characters were confined to the pages. Every decision in the film had some root in Jane Austen's prose. One person criticized the opening line, "Emma Woodhouse was born with the sun shining," but forgot how frequently Austen's prose refers to the change in seasons. It is most notable at the end where Emma is waiting for the dreaded announcement of Mr. Knightley's enagement to Harriet. There is a storm, but in the morning everything clears and the sun comes out, and that is precisely when Mr. Knightley comes to her. Another instance is Emma's insecurity over never having traveled. In the book, her dismay over her sedentary life are flashes that you might not remember. But there it is, in the dinner with her family, she says she has not gone to the sea side. And there, at the end of the book, Mr. Knightley takes her there for their honeymoon.
Another conscious decision was in making the secondary characters like Mr. Woodhouse, Miss Bates, and Frank Churchill more sympathetic. Even Mrs. Elton seems to have motives. Whereas previous adaptions have caracitured them for obvious laughs, this adaption has taken a more subtle route. I think it was a good choice. And anyway, the truth is funnier than fiction. In the mini-series, the satire is still present, but its purpose is not only to create amusement, but to throw Emma's character into relief. Mr. Woodhouse has understandable fears, but he is well-meaning. Emma's attachment to him is understandable. Miss Bates chatters on to avoid a depressing silence in a lonely home. Emma's unintended insult at Box Hill is all the more cruel. Mrs. Elton, meanwhile, is unrefined and rude, but I think this adaption has given her a good reason that makes her far more interesting than the 40-year-old Mrs. Elton from the Paltrow adaption. She, like Emma, is a bit insecure about her lack of refinement. Perhaps she has just come from a circle where she was the queen bee, but that isn't the case in Highbury where Emma is always in the way. Everyone praises Emma in Highbury, but Emma will not praise Mrs. Elton. She tries to befriend Emma at first, just as she does in the book. She fails. In an interesting parallel, Emma had tried to befriend Jane Fairfax to no success. Mrs. Elton resents Emma for her failure and is determined to make her life miserable, whereas Emma merely gossips a bit about Jane, feels bad about it, and eventually resolves to improve herself in order to win her friendship. Again, each character has picked a pet friend. Emma chose Harriet, and Mrs. Elton selected Jane. Each imposed their own wishes on the other, but only Mrs. Elton persisted in spite of Jane's marked and frequently-expressed refusals and evasions. Emma, on the other hand, persevered from good (if faulty) intentions, stopped meddling (or tried to) when she realized she had done ill, and genuinely cared for Harriet's happiness. If Emma lacked compassion and the innate desire to do good, she could be exactly like Mrs. Elton. You couldn't possibly get that from Paltrow's version. You just see that Mr. Elton is stupid and has picked an even stupider wife. And Frank Churchill? Here he is not exactly a cad. He is not just throwing the wool over everyone's eyes. He is a young man who is angry with his fiancee for her coldness, and perhaps unequal to fending off Emma's repeated attempts to gossip about Jane. I think he genuinely likes Emma. The two characters are the same, both wealthy, carefree, playful people who like having fun and aren't particulary atuned to how their actions hurt others. They each have a relation who has spoiled them, but keeps them confined, sometimes against their inclinations. They are bored people with vast resources. Still, they each value steadiness of character and attach themselves to partners of superior judgment. When Mr. Knightley doesn't like Frank, Emma is genuinely hurt because, perhaps unconsciously, she sees herself in him and wants Mr. Knightley to approve.
I could go on and on, but if you get me started on how the mini-series has revved up the chemistry between Mr. Knightley and Emma without changing much from the book at all, I will never stop writing! Such a brilliant mini-series! Everyone should check it out.
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