Monday, 2 February 2009

Emma '09

The BBC did say a while back that they were not going to do any more classic novel adaptations for a bit, but the credit crunch seems to have sent them straight back to devotedly doing what they sell best, because they are shortly about to produce a new four-parter of Emma. I enjoyed the defensiveness in that press release, viz, Ben Stephenson, Controller Drama Commissioning: "2009 will also see Desperate Romantics and Small Island burst onto the screen and we believe that this offers viewers a real range of stories about our heritage." Desperate Romantics is about the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, 'a real range of stories' lol! Small Island by Andrea Levy I read a few years ago - it's about postwar Carribean migrants to GB - and it's slightly more plausible to speak of it as being some distance away from the Jane Austen classic serial gold standard, but anyhow, moving along... maybe I'm reading too much into it, but the press release really seems to me to be offering a string of justifications for yet another Austen serial, knowing how much complaining there's been about the prevalence of austeny television over the last two years, but at the same time without actually genuinely believing any of the points it halfheartedly puts forward. And why on earth not? Emma is one of the greatest novels in the English language. BBC folks, it's really OK to say that. Ah, well. I also appreciated the snarky postscript about the 1996 ITV version.

A few musings:

1) it's nice to see somebody else is being given a turn at writing an Austen television adaptation

2) the serial will be four hours total which strikes me as almost long enough to do a good job of getting to grips with Emma

3) Over at Austenblog there is a delightful spontaneous proletarian uprising demanding the instatement of Richard Armitage in the role of Mr Knightley.

(Armitage as John Thornton in North & South)

Several Austenblog commenters pointed out that Armitage is almost exactly the right age (37) for Mr Knightley; this does seem to clinch it somehow but assuming he's not available who else might be good for the part? (Please don't say Colin Firth.) And the other parts, who do you like for them?

(that's really all I wanted to write but I'm reminded that in the 'Filmography' section of a recent book about Jane Austen movies, they have listed a 1994 Northanger Abbey starring Anna Paquin, Anthony Hopkins, Ioan Gruffud and other terrific actors, which unfortunately does not exist in reality and was totally invented by Austen fangirls wishlisting away on the internet. Oops.)


Zoe said...

What have they had to say about this at Austenblog, pray tell?

lucy tartan said...

Austenblog is very open to these sorts of things - see here for a nice example - and had good words to say. The author of Austenblog has a book with the same publisher as is bringing out the zombie book.

Mags said...

Sigh. I'm afraid I'm partly responsible for the fake NA starring Ioan Gruffudd. Back around 2000 (when Ioan was the right age to play Henry) I posted a "dream cast" on my website, which is still there and I really oughta take down, and apparently somebody got hold of it and thought it was real. Because it's on the Internet, it MUST be real, right? But I wonder at supposed scholars who firstly do not vet their work and secondly can't distinguish fangirl wishful thinking from actual news?

I still think Anthony "Sir Ant'ny" Hopkins would be a kickass General Tilney, though. He could play him all Hannibal Lecter. "The elasticity of her walk," indeed.

I am open to the pop culture stuff--after all, that's what AustenBlog is all about. I think the idea of the zombie P&P is hilarious, especially as they are presenting it as a fake scholarly edition with fake Brock-style illustrations--I mean, how funny is that? But I fear the joke won't hold up through the entire text. It's basically the text of P&P with zombie stuff added. It's not a rewrite at all (at least when they showed me an excerpt last year, that's how it was). And considering my General Tilney/Hannibal Lecter comment above, maybe it's not THAT far off! ;-)

lucy tartan said...

The elasticity of her walk LOL!

As you know, it's hardly your responsibility if somebody misreads you to THAT degree. I should shut up about that anecdote, because it's not as if I've never made a mistake. But it amuses me so I keep telling it.

I agree entirely with your take on the zombie book too Mags.

Mags said...

Oh, it amuses me, too! Do go on telling it. I'm pretty sure the page was presented as a "dream cast" and that it was just wishful thinking, so how it got conflated to a done deal I'm sure I don't know. If nothing else, it's a cautionary tale for academics, right? Vet your sources, people!

TimT said...

Good to see they're going to give the pre-Raphaelite poets a burl, but I'll not be really happy until the BBC starts doing televisual/dramatic renditions of Edward Lear's poems. 'The Dong with the Luminous Nose' is just full of possibilities!

Ann oDyne said...

Jude Law is Mr.Knightley.
Emma - Rumer Willis
Lourdes Leon
Miley Cyrus
Dakota Fanning
Gabriel Thomson
(Michael Harper in My Family.

worldpeace and a speedboat said...

Colin Fir... oh bum ;-)

The Zombie P&P looks silly and tempting, but I'm with you guys, I don't think it sounds sustainable. also, my toddler loves his Lizzy and Darcy (and Mr Blingeley!) so I suspect he'd be well traumatised by the concept if I left it lying about. heh.

Elsewhere007 said...

>1) it's nice to see somebody else is being given a turn at writing an Austen television adaptation<

Shall I spell out the subtext? And such a relief it's not Andrew davies.