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Emma(2): 1996

In 1996 the Jane Austen film fad reached it’s height with rare phenomenon: Two films of the same book premiering in the same year! A wonderful bonus for Emma fans, this dual presentation by Miramax and A&E spawned endless comparison of the two films, actors and scripts. While neither movie presents the whole of the book (Of the three, Emma1 actually does the best job of this.) the two 1996 versions provide such varied scenes that they are hardly telling the same story! Miramax’s focuses more on the Emma/Mr. Knightley theme while the A&E version focuses on the Jane/Frank and Emma/Harriet themes. Written and directed by humorist Douglas McGrath (Saturday Night Live), the Miramax version presents a funny, lush, almost fairytale version of Emma. Originally planning a 1990’s update of the book, McGrath changed his script when he discovered that Clueless was already in the works. Then, near the completion of the writing process, his mother called to tell him that Emma Thompson was just then filming her own version of the story! Full of fear, he called his agent, only to be told three wonderful words- “Sense and Sensibility”. When the script was finally presented to Miramax executives and asked who should direct the film, McGrath suggested himself. Though this was his directorial debut, he did a fine job and clearly enjoyed himself! “I come from a family of hard workers, so I worked hard to convince them that bringing Emma to the screen was not a cushy job.

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