Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Social Experiment part 3: Emma

Finally, a Jane Austen book where the main guy in it is actually likable through the thing.

I say that in reference to the many other Austen, and Austen time-period, stories where the main guy is good, but that's hidden under a lot of other stuff. You have to sort of overlook things, and work hard to like the fellow.

That's all fine and good. Taking a person on a real journey over a character is a sign of a good writer. But I'm a little tired of having to do it every time. Examples: Colonel Brandon. Yeah, he's good and nice the whole time, and he obviously likes her, but he's just awkward and weird. You have to really get over Willoughby before you can be okay with him.

John Thornton (in Gaskell's North and South). The main reason he's great is because Richard Armitage plays him, which makes him quite lovely to look at. But even though he does a lot that shows his true character, and he really is a very sensible, decent man, he's not very charismatic. He's got a bit of a temper, and he's still a sort of gruff type that's difficult to like.

Mr. Darcy. The only adaptation I've thus far experienced where I really actually felt Darcy's personality was different, and not just the outward knowledge of his good actions, was the Colin Firth version. Perhaps that's what everyone else sees when they read it and stuff. If so, I can almost understand having him as a dashing romantic figure. But in every other one, he may show himself to be a good man, but he's still snappy, weird, and somewhat short tempered. Not at all desirable.

Mr. Knightly, on the other hand, is not the one with all the flaws. Emma is. Which is fine by me, and makes a nice change. Partly because I don't watch a show like that to adore the female leads. Mr. Knightly is always sweet, always honest, always caring, and he does the right thing whenever he can. Even if you don't realize that he likes Emma the whole time, you know that whoever he ends up with is gonna be lucky.

That's the first thing I liked about Emma. Mr. Knightly.

Now, on to other things. I have seen two versions of the story. One was an older, two video version. I don't remember a great deal about it other than that I hated it. I was so bored. You pretty much got to the part where she and Knightly both liked each other and wouldn't tell the other about it like in the very beginning, and the entire other 1 1/2 tapes of it were just them agonizing over it. I can just remember thinking "Daggonnit! You both like each other! Stop dragging it out!"

So yeah, there wasn't a great deal to it that I actually understood. 2 videos of nothing but sitting around wishing to be with the other dude. BO. RING.

The newer one was much improved. Plus I like Gwyneth Paltrow. Emma actually has personality in this one. Even though her personality is extremely flawed, it's better than just sitting around feeling sorry for herself. Besides, it's flawed in the book. It's supposed to be that way.

They're different flaws too. Most of her other female leads aren't rich, well to do, and a little arrogant. That's the province of the annoying antagonists like Caroline Bingley. So it's certainly a different angle. But she isn't quite as bad as Caroline and company. Her friend, Harriet, is a good indicator of that. Caroline wouldn't have been caught dead as her friend.

I grant that things might have moved a little fast in this newer movie. Stuff happened, and there wasn't much time to really ingest it before the things were resolved. But it was succinct enough to help me understand what was going on, and thus make me inclined to possibly read the book. Which doesn't happen much with Jane Austen stuff.

Not to mention that Ewan McGregor sings a duet with her in the movie. I enjoy his voice. And Gwyneth's is good too.

Anyway, I suppose I liked this one better than some of the others, because I actually understood the motivations behind everything. I could relate to some of the character's feelings, and know how they worked, even if I didn't quite agree with them.

And also because Mr. Knightly is easy to like.

All things being said, so far this is my favorite of the social experiment list.

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