The Stack Up: ‘Emma’

How does the film stack up to the novel?

EMMA FACEBOOK | Photo Courtesy
Both the book and the film are masterpieces.

It is no secret that Jane Austen’s romantic literature are influential works of fiction that still stand true today as testaments of English cordiality. We are truly blessed to have another remake of her classic novel “Emma” directed by Autumn de Wilde and starring Anya Taylor-Joy.

The book

I consider myself a manly boy but am not ashamed to profess the genius of Jane Austen. Reading this book was like reading a 500-page manual of how to activate your phone as explained by William Shakespeare—important but hard to understand.

I am unequivocally convinced that “unequivocally” was Ms. Austen’s favorite word. (I mean it—the word was said at least 12 times in the first half). Gripes aside, there is a reason this is a classic.

The book follows Emma Woodhouse, a matchmaker who finds and brings partners together to be married. She struggles with vices of pride and prejudice, but later embraces her true sense and sensibility (Got you, didn’t I?). Through her mistakes and amends, she discovers herself and how important she is to others.

In a scene, Emma surmises to herself, “wickedness is always wickedness, but folly is not always folly.” This summarizes all her conflicts and developments throughout the book. This is a story of a strong female character who develops and discovers the good person she is by accepting and facing her problems, and apologizing when she offends others- a redeeming factor Taylor Swift hopefully employs someday.

In a present world where stories seem only considered romantic if they have a sex scene, this book is a testament of pure love generated between two souls through the experience of life. Emma’s connection with her friend John Knightley and their banter of pleasant arguing is the highlight for me.

There is a world of difference between English and American slang. “This is where our quarreling begins Ms. Woodhouse,” sounds much better than “What’s your problem?”

This book also has the best romantic line in written history- “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more”- and that is only a taste of this book’s awesomeness.

The film

After being woefully under-utilized in last year’s “Glass”—a film in which Bruce Willis plays the wimpiest superhero ever (or just himself…I’m not sure)—Anya Taylor-Joy shines in this role as Emma.

This film was a great surprise to me. I have not left the theater so satisfied since seeing Christopher Nolan’s war film, “Dunkirk.” This is what happens when filmmakers realize how great the source material is and make a complete homage to it.

I was skeptical when I heard this film was coming out. It did not seem needed at the time since there have been so many cinematic adaptations. But after seeing this film—a positive character study of a person who learns to live past her own mistakes and thrive with the love of those around her— we need it.

This is not a perfect adaptation, but it is more faithful than I thought it would be. The divides between infatuation and love are displayed well. It is also quite humorous and the character development is on-point.

There are only a few cons I have with it. Some of the acting was over-the-top with the character of Mr. Elton being the creepiest non-psycho I’ve seen on film, and a glimpse of Mr. Knightley’s bare rump at the beginning was a sight I did not need burned into my mind. Gripes aside, this is the best film of 2020 in my opinion and hopefully Nolan’s upcoming “Tenet” makes me reevaluate.

On a final note, a wise man once said, “Morality is key to portraying good femininity,” (I came up with that, aren’t I wise?). This film is a breath of fresh air in that regard in its presentation of love between man and woman in the purest form.

The victor

If we didn’t have the book, we wouldn’t have this film and that is the only reason I prefer it over this masterpiece of cinema.

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