It is a truth often acknowledged that Jane Austen is still jolly popular, and that two-hundred-and-three years after her death, her books are still in print and more importantly, still widely read and enjoyed. These facts have not escaped the notice of Hollywood either. The Manatees at the top of the industry have correctly surmised that anything with “Jane Austen” in the title is sure to put bums on seats – even if only because the books are still widely represented on school and university reading lists. Offerings range from the idiotic, with the addition of zombies in a rather desperate attempt at humour to the updated – “Clueless”.

As far as the movie industry is concerned, the problem is that Austen’s output was quite small, with her concentrating on quality rather than quantity, a fact which has already pushed the movie industry deep into re-make territory. This film is no less than the fifth version of “Emma” (counting “Clueless”) and is, in my opinion, the best. It’s been made with huge respect for the original text with Austen’s humour represented perfectly by the actors and the excellent script. The audience laughed out loud, and frequently. The cinema was a very pleasant place to be, that afternoon. The photography was truly sublime and of beautiful things, the editing slow and considered. I suppose it could be said that nothing much “happened”- no-one got shot, the world was not saved from marauding aliens, but my attention was sill riveted since as Ms Austen knew well, importance is a matter of degree, not of content. And if “Emma” is slight in content it is doubly charming for all that.

A Rare Gem indeed.
(C) Alex Rieneck 2020 All rights reserved.

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