Waaaaaay back when quarantine began, I thought that I should start binge-watching something to pass the time. Optimistically, I remembered how often Jane Austen adaptations have been my comfort object, and having just seen the new feature film Emma, decided to fire up the 1972 BBC TV version of Emma. Welp, I made it halfway through (only by multi-tasking) before giving up, and have now realized that binge-watching post-apocalyptic sci-fi is what’s getting me through this adventure.
The 1972 one is actually a strong production minus the videography typical of its day: it sticks close to the novel (okay, as much as I remember — I’ve only read it once); the costumes are appropriate to the 1815 publication date; the acting is good. It’s just waaaay too nicey-nice (and slowly paced) for me these days!
I did get ambitious and take a bunch of screencaps, which have languished on my computer as I’ve mentally thought “Someday you’ll finish watching that!” Reader, I will not finish watching that. Let’s accept fate, shall we? And the odds of Trystan or Sarah ever reviewing this are about a billion to one, so I figured I should put those screencaps to use by writing a sadly vague review such as I have. For posterity!
FYI, the costumes were designed by Joan Ellacott, who also designed The Forsyte Saga (1967), Vanity Fair (1967), The First Churchills (1969), Madame Bovary (1975), Anna Karenina (1977), Pride and Prejudice (1980), and The Lady and the Highwayman (1988).
Mrs. Goddard (Mollie Sugden, aka Mrs. Slocombe from Are You Being Served) and Harriet Smith.
Emma (Doran Godwin) is always nicely dressed.
Miss Bates pretty much always shows up in this dumpy brown velvet dress.
Her cap is actually quite beautiful, even if it adds to the dumpy effect (as it should).
Mrs. Weston; again with a nice cap.
Emma is VERY GAWKY. She also has a pretty lavender dress for the party at the Coles’.
This photo still shows that the dress is less intensely purple, has a sheer dotted overlay — and lets you see the headdress thingie.
Crappy screenshot, but that’s the swag on Emma’s skirt.
Harriet’s party dress. What do we think, zipper yea or nay?
Emma in a pelisse with beautiful piping, and the trim on that bonnet is gorgeous!
Hanging with Harriet, both wearing unflattering caps.
Perfectly of the period, but perfectly NOT my taste.
Sorry, Emma, Harriet looks better in her black and white print! Also, Emma, that hairstyle isn’t doing you any favors.
Mrs. Cole Emma’s sister, Mrs. Knightley — I think with Mr. Woodhouse? She’s got some nice fur bits.
Cole Knightley rocking the purple and black!
Emma in pale blue, Mrs. Weston in darker blue.
Do Mrs. Bates and Miss Bates share a wardrobe? Or wait, is that Miss Bates??
Cole Knightley is quite nicely dressed!
Cute fur, great bonnet shape. Those curled bangs are perfect for the era and they look SO STUPID.
Jane Fairfax is appropriately lovely and simply dressed.
Jane in some outdoor wear.
Mr. Churchill with Mrs. Weston.
More winter outerwear for Emma – not my favorite look.
Another evening party — I think this might be a rando whose dress I shockingly liked?
Emma’s blue dress has some kind of applique or embroidery.
Jane Fairfax again.
I do think it’s the hair that’s making Emma look dorky.
Weston Elton is appropriately fabulous and annoying!
Great sleeves, great bonnet.
Repeat on Emma.
Repeat on Jane!
Those multi-puffed faux-medieval/Renaissance sleeves are very much of the period, and I very much hate them. Who wants giant lumpy puffy arms??
Let’s crowdfund some RIT dye for Jane?
In this photo still, you can see Emma’s dress has metallic embroidery, and Jane’s may be a print?
Best dress of the series (in the half that I watched) on Mrs. Elton!
I only question the color of the hem ruche. But the black overlay!! With all the pointy bits!!
Harriet at the Westons’ ball.
Emma has a nice sheer shawl (sari alert?), but WHO LET HER WEAR THAT PLASTIC PEARL MONSTROSITY IN HER HAIR
SHE’S A BRIDAL NIGHTMARE.
Elton Weston brings us back to attractive-land with her turban.
Jane gets Actual Color!!
That’s where I gave up. This dress must be from later in the series.
Ditto this cape.
And this shot of Frank Churchill.
Are you a secret (or not so secret!) fan of the 1972 Emma? Feel free to tell people why they should watch this in the comments, since I’m clearly never going to finish it!