Posts Tagged ‘Samantha Morton’

This is the 1997 adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel.  Samantha Morton is the eponymous heroine, while Ciaran Hinds takes on the role of Rochester.  Unfortunately, I found this version disappointing.  Morton certainly looks right for Jane, and there is no doubt that both Morton and Hinds are accomplished actors.  However, I found myself wondering whether either of them were even familiar with the story or their characters.  Jane’s quiet strength, which shone through in the novel (and in certain adaptations) isn’t visible here – instead, the character is almost petulant and unpleasant to Rochester – and Rochester, such a layered and beautifully drawn person in the book – is nothing so much as a loud-mouthed bully in this version.  Hinds seems incapable of talking, and chooses to shout all of his lines.

Also, large parts of the book are cut out of the story.  I feel that this is the problem with trying to tell this story in a two hour film – it just can’t be done (which is probably why my favourite adaptation is unquestionably the mini-series from 2006, starring Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens).  Even worse, the chopping of certain parts of the novel means that the film might seem disjointed to anyone who hasn’t read Jane Eyre.  The developing feelings between Jane and Rochester seems too sudden, and although the character of St John makes an appearance, it is short and irrelevant to the way the story unfolds in this version (and he isn’t related to Jane either).

It isn’t completely bad though.  Gemma Jones does a lovely job as Mrs Fairfax, and the scenery and photography looks lovely.  Overall though, this is worth watching only if you are trying (like me) to see all the adaptations of this novel. Otherwise, I would suggest skipping this version, and trying the 2006 mini-series.

Year of release: 1997

Director: Robert Young

Producers: Delia Fine, Sally Head, Greg Brenman, Hugh Warren

Writers: Charlotte Bronte (novel), Kay Mellor, Richard Hawley, Peter Wright

Main cast: Samantha Morton, Ciaran Hinds, Gemma Jones, David Gant


Click here for my review of the novel.

Click here for my review of the 2006 mini-series.

Click here for my review of the 1996 film adaptation.

Click here for my review of the 1943 film adaptation.


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There have been so many adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels that it can be a bit confusing knowing where to start if you want to watch one.  This version of Emma is not the most well known, but I certainly think it’s worth a watch.

Kate Beckinsale plays Emma Woodhouse – a well meaning, but impetuous girl who likes to meddle in other people’s lives a little bit too much.  She thinks she’s doing them a favour, but she is about to learn that sometimes it’s best to leave well alone.  Her brother in law, George Knightley (the brother of Emma’s sister’s husband) is fond of Emma but is exasperated when she interferes in the affairs of her young friend Harriet Smith, and disastrously tries to set Harriet up with the local minister, Mr Elton.

Emma looks like she may be in for a romance herself when the handsome Franklin Churchill shows up, but it may be that Churchill has his own secrets…and what is the secret that young Jane Fairfax, recently returned to Highbury, is hiding?  Emma thinks she knows, but when the truth is revealed she might be in for a shock.

As far as adaptations go, this one is pretty faithful to the book.  I thought Kate Beckinsale (almost unrecognisable from how she looks today after being ‘Hollywoodised’) played the part of Emma very well, and delivered the right amount of mischievousness and haughtiness (it should be remembered that Jane Austen thought that Emma was someone who no reader would like, but I feel that she was a bit harsh on the character).  However, I did think that the character came across as slightly more ‘bitchy’ or cutting than the Emma Woodhouse of the novel (particularly in her scenes with Franklin).  Mark Strong plays George Knightley – a character I adored when I read the book.  Strong plays the part fairly well, but tended to make Knightley always so intense and angry.  I’m afraid that I was also somewhat distracted by his awful hair style!!  However, the best actors in the whole piece were Prunella Scales as Miss Bates – a character who could have been played purely for laughs, but who here is imbued with a sense of poignancy and wistfulness; and Samantha Morton, who played Harriet Smith to perfection and was exactly as I imagined Harriet would be when I read the book.  Raymond Coulthard is also great as Franklin Churchill, with just the right amount of handsome arrogance and good humour.

The period is brought to life very well, and the fact that I knew the ending did not spoil my enjoyment of the film (in fact, it probably enhanced it).  This film, made for ITV television, is not as famous as the version starring Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma, but I think it’s well worth a look, especially for anybody who is a fan of the book.

Year of release: 1996

Director: Diarmuid Lawrence

Writers: Jane Austen (book), Andrew Davies

Main cast: Kate Beckinsale, Mark Strong, Samantha Morton, Raymond Coulthard, Olivia Williams, Dominic Rowan, Prunella Scales


Click here for my review of the novel.

Click here for my review of the 2009 mini series.

Click here for my review of the 1996 film adaptation starring Gwyneth Paltrow.

Click here for my review of the 1972 mini series.

Click here for my review of the 1995 film Clueless (adaptation of Emma).


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