Flattery (Part Two)

I am a big fan of costume dramas.  I mean, big fan.  From 18th century Jane Austen classics to 19th century Elizabeth Gaskell.  I am loving the Austen renaissance that's been ongoing for the past decade or so.

All this to say: I just finished four of the most enjoyable hours I've spent since...well, since last time I watched the BBCs production of Gaskell's Wives & Daughters (one of my all-time favorite films).  I just finished watching BBCs latest, and it is nothing short of the best thing they have ever produced.  Given their track record for these sorts of things, that is incredibly high praise.  I am speaking of Austen's Emma.

It is a work of cinematic perfection, casting brilliance, and their telling of the story is simply pitch-perfect.  I cannot recommend this film highly enough.  Of course, the true genius behind it all is the ever deep, wise, and witty Ms. Austen, who carefully crafts this tale to illustrate a principle I wrote about last week: flattery is a form of hatred.  In all the delightful twists and turns, the blundering manipulations and misunderstandings, false trails and dead-ends, Austen could not be more clear that the person hardest on Emma, most honest with Emma, willing to speak the harsh, cold truth to Emma, is the one who truly loves Emma.  And Emma herself beautifully comes to realize this, and, far from the cynicism so often displayed in our own day, actually repents and changes.

It may just be one of the finest novels ever written.  And thanks to the BBC it now might just be one of the finest film adaptations ever made.  Bravo!  Get.  This.  Film.

Brian Mattson