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Movies My Family Quotes: Part Two

October 16th, 2008 · No Comments

I wasn’t quite sure where to go next with my series– should I go to something completely different? Or follow in the same comedic vein? And then this movie showed up on TV the other night. Ta da! It was decided.

“Is it possible he met her while doing charitable work in a mental infirmary?”

Emma (2006)

It will come as no surprise to most of you that I like movie adaptations of Jane Austen’s works (well, some of them. Others make me want to throw things at the television/movie screen). What may surprise you, though, is that this enjoyment extends to my whole family—and not just my mom and my sisters. My father and brother are both extremely cultured men, and enjoy a good “chick flick” as much as any of us women in the family (we’re slowly converting my brother-in-law as well). My brother always says that movies that most men would consider “chick flicks” were just good movies to him when he was growing up. So don’t be too shocked when a number of romantic films show up on this list.

One of the most quotable of the recent Austen adaptations is Emma, starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam (mmmm, Jeremy Northam . . .). Many an Austen purist would disagree with me, but I much prefer this adaptation of the novel to the Kate Beckinsale/Mark Strong version, which was aired on TV the same year, and which in many ways is truer to the spirit of the novel. I would argue, however, that the Miramax version is a perfectly valid reading of the novel, if a bit more of a surface reading than the A&E version. And besides, Jeremy Northam is a million times hotter than Mark Strong. Just sayin.’

Also, the Miramax version is just funnier, at least in a verbal sense. Many of the best lines weren’t necessarily written by Austen, but they feel like they could have been. The lines my family quotes are mostly uttered by Miss Bates, played with considerable panache by Emma Thompson’s sometimes-overlooked sister, Sophie Thompson (although one could argue that the best performance of the movie belongs to Phyllida Law, mother to both Emma and Sophie, who plays Mrs. Bates absolutely perfectly without ever saying a word), but not all of them. For every time we quote “Hungry, Mother” (spoken by Miss Bates completely off-screen), or “It left us speechless, quite speechless, actually; and we have not stopped talking of it since”, you’ll also find us uttering “The Coles are nice people, but we should have to go outside to get there” or “How interesting, Miss Smith,” or “He offends me. Deeply.” Good, good, stuff.

One of the things I like best about the film is the way it combines the dialogue with brilliant cinematography. Watch the sequence directly after Mr. Elton leaves for Bath, where the scenes flow together seamlessly through bridging dialogue and voice-overs, clear up until the Cole’s party–where worlds of emotions are conveyed through close-ups alone. Or one of my favorite scenes (which is the one I screencaped above), where Emma and Knightley are discussing the upcoming ball at the Weston’s. At first, all you can see is that Emma and Knightley are standing on a lawn somewhere—and then the camera flips around to reveal the enormous Donwell Abbey in the background as Knightley utters the line “I just want to stay here where it’s cozy.” Fabulous.

My absolute favorite moment in the film, however, is so subtle that many people completely miss it. You can see it in this clip:

When Knightley and Emma dance at the ball, on their first do-si-do, they’re supposed to move around each other without touching. But Knightley reaches out and puts his hand around Emma’s waist. It’s a perfect moment. And Emma’s confused face throughout the rest of the dance is so. . . just. . . *sigh* I love it.

Next time: something completely different.

Tags: Movies

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