Today’s post was planned to be about the 1997 Kate Beckinsale version, but technology can be fickle and thanks to a DVD player that picked a decidedly inconvenient time to malfunction, I opted for plan B – a version of Emma that I could stream. The four-episode 2009 BBC adaptation of Emma, with Romola Garai in the title role, and Jonny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightley is currently included in the Amazon Prime subscription, so it won the lottery by default. This adaptation is truly charming, and I seriously considered changing the topic from “goofs” to “favorite scenes and moments,” because I have scads of them. In the end, I decided to stick with goofs, since this is a series, so here they are, in no particular order:
10.) Protecting the chickens? – When Emma and Mr. Knightley are departing on their two-week honeymoon, John Knightley complains about having to stay with Mr. Woodhouse. Isabella consoles him and explains, “… but there is a wolf about, and we need a man to protect the chickens.” Apparently, the screenwriter was unaware that wolves had been extinct in the south of England for centuries at that point in time.
9.) A lady never goes “stag” to a ball – On the night of the ball at the Crown Inn, Emma arrives alone in her carriage. A young, single woman of that time would never have arrived at a social event such as a ball alone. While a chaperone would be the traditional and expected choice, in Austen’s novel, Harriet is Emma’s companion to the ball.
8.) The case of the mysterious shadow puppets – There is a scene where Emma is trying to listen to a story that Mr. Weston is telling, but Mr. Elton is determined to get her attention, doggedly pulling her away from the spot where she can hear. If you watch the wall behind her, you can see the shadows of hands moving, although her own hands are lower and still. When she goes away and returns, the shadows are not there.
7.) Why waste the candles? – The scene begins out of doors, and the sun is clearly shining. Emma and Knightley move indoors and the first room they are in has no candles lit since there is plenty of natural light coming through the windows. The next room they go to still has lots of light from the windows, but there are candles lit all around the room.
6.) A sudden thaw – After the Weston’s Christmas Eve party ended prematurely due to the onset of snow, a great show was made of the snowy landscape, first at Donwell and then at Hartfield. The next scene is of Emma going to Mrs. Goddard’s to take a Christmas present to Harriet, and bear the news that Mr. Elton was not, in fact, in love with Harriet. While the novel explains that there was some passage of time where the weather kept Emma indoors, this adaptation just has Emma walking up the drive next to a green lawn with her gift in hand right after the snowfall.
5.) Those “newborn” dolls are creepy – Earlier in the film, when Emma is holding her stiff and motionless little niece, it’s easy to assume that it is actually a doll she’s holding. At the end of the final episode, however, we see Mrs. Weston’s baby, it is obviously a doll.
4.) What about the horse? – The dramatic scene begins with Frank racing his horse through town, charging down the path where he comes upon Harriet and her friend are being assaulted and robbed by the gypsy children. Frank takes an athletic leap off his horse and races toward Harriet, effectively chasing the children away. He carries Harriet, weary by the time he gets her to Hartfield. There is no indication of what happened to the horse, and I can’t help be wonder why he didn’t put her on the horse instead of carrying her himself.
3.) The self-repairing coif – After Emma’s piano and vocal performance at the Cole’s dinner party, you can clearly see that one of her curls has broken free and is hanging in a long ringlet. A moment later, her hair is restored to it’s earlier perfection.
2.) Emma’s superpower – During the infamous scene where Mr. Eltonsnubs Harriet, the dancers are engaged in a loud and somewhat wild dance, yet Emma manages to overhear the conversation, with her attention divided between the dance and what is going on with Elton in quiet tones on the sidelines. Apparently, Emma has been endowed with super-hearing, because a normal person wouldn’t have been able to hear it at all.
1.) Fast fingers – This goof isn’t glaring, but I saved it for the number one spot because it’s such a romantic moment–the moment leading up to their first kiss. Emma takes Mr. Knightley’s face in her hands, and her fingers are resting on his ears. The camera cuts to behind his head and her fingers are behind his ears.
You’re welcome to add to the list of goofs if you spotted some I didn’t include, but I would also love to hear comments regarding your favorite moments. I’ll start. That moment when Emma and Mr. Knightly go to tell Mr. Woodhouse they are going to get married and he reaches over and holds her hands, which she has behind her back.