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Emma (2009) on Masterpiece Classic: A Review

A review by Laurel Ann Nattress “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Sage advice from the philosophizing Forrest Gump. The same can be said of Jane Austen adaptations. Last nights US premiere of screenwriter Sandy Welch’s newly retooled Emma on Masterpiece Classic had its mix of nuts, chews and soft centers. Most viewers will be tempted to consume it quickly like the beautifully crafted confection that it is. I prefer to take a small bite first to see what I’m getting. Emma may very well be the last Jane Austen adaptation (or any other bonnet drama) that we see on television for quite some time (now available to purchase online here). The BBC is feigning Austen fatigue after years of milking the almighty cash cow. Since 2005 we have been treated to a new major movie or television production of each of Jane Austen’s six major novels. Emma (2009) completes the set. Time to bring on the reality television and grittier fare. So speaketh auntie Beeb. Because of their partnership with the BBC, Masterpiece PBS is hooked into their decisions too, though I suspect with more regret than they will admit since Executive Producer Rebecca Eaton remarked last week “We are not stupid: Jane Austen is catnip to our audience.” This new Emma has almost everything that this bonnet drama geek could hope for in an Austen film adaptation: four hours to develop the story to its fullest, beautiful, beautiful production values, (more…)