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Emma (1996)

Gwyneth Paltrow , James Cosmo , Douglas McGrath  |  PG |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (815 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Gwyneth Paltrow, James Cosmo, Greta Scacchi, Alan Cumming, Denys Hawthorne
  • Directors: Douglas McGrath
  • Writers: Douglas McGrath, Jane Austen
  • Producers: Bob Weinstein, Donna Gigliotti, Donna Grey, Harvey Weinstein, Patrick Cassavetti
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Miramax
  • DVD Release Date: January 5, 1999
  • Run Time: 121 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (815 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00000G3AZ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,424 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Emma" on IMDb

Special Features

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Editorial Reviews

This delightfully fun and lighthearted comedy is based on the story that inspired the hit movie CLUELESS! Dazzling Gwyneth Paltrow (SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS) shines as EMMA, a mischievous young beauty who sets up her single friends. Funny thing is ... she's not very good at it! So when Emma tries to find a man for Harriet (Toni Collette -- THE SIXTH SENSE, ABOUT A BOY), she makes a hilariously tangled mess of everyone's lives. You'll enjoy all the comic confusion ... until Emma herself falls in love, finally freeing everyone from her outrageously misguided attempts at matchmaking.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
129 of 135 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant in so many ways September 29, 2001
Format:DVD
Being a die-hard Austen fan, I couldn't resist watching this movie. Emma Woodhouse's story has always been my favorite of
Austen's efforts, and I am always glad to see her work brought to the screen. I was VERY pleased with this film.
Casting was well done. Northam provides a sturdy, but not overly-stern, Knightley, and Paltrow does an amazing job of convincing us that she is, indeed, British in her portrayal of Emma. Her accent is nearly flawless, and I felt that she truly captured the personality of Austen's most spoiled heroine. The sets and lighting are bright, airy, and perfectly suited to the comedic approach taken by this particular director. The scenes are edited just brilliantly. Each scene flows seamlessly from one to another, and the pace of the plot runs along just perfectly. It moves fast enough to keep everyone interested and slowly enough to make sure that everyone has enough time to absorb what's going on.
The criticism I've heard most often is that the film really only touches on the Jane Fairfax/Frank Churchill subplot for the briefest of moments. I did not find that to be injurious to the film. It's plain, while watching this version, that the director wanted to keep the story light and funny. Adding Jane and Frank's saga would have done two things: First, it would have seriously darkened and dramatized the bouncy and bright atmosphere of the entire film. Second, it would have taken the spotlight off of Emma Woodhouse as the focus of the story. I felt that, given the abbreviated length of time that a movie has in which to communicate a story...the omission of Frank & Jane's affair was a wise choice.
The second criticism I've heard of the film is that it's just too clean and "pretty" to be accurately representative of Regency England.
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455 of 500 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars more for Paltrow fans than for Austen devotees February 28, 2003
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Emma is a wealthy and bored young woman in Regency England. She lives the good life in her rural manse, where she lives with her hypochondriac father, and she has just successfully seen a match she's made lead to the altar. Flushed with success, she is determined to continue her role as Cupid, which leads to disaster and comedy at every turn.
Director McGrath proves to have a good eye for exterior shots and comedic elements. The script is delightful, the cast superb, and Rachel Portman's score is faultless. The real problem with this adaptation is dear Gwyneth. Paltrow is absolutely lovely and charming as the heroine here, but she is not Emma as written by Jane Austen, and the discrepancy changes the story entirely. To see this character played to perfection, you must see her played by Kate Beckinsale. Before you click the "No" button, hear me out: watch both films' version of the pivotal scene of the picnic on Boxer Hill, where Emma insults poor chatty Miss Bates. Austen's Emma is intelligent but thoughtless, generous but as yet unkind, in the way that young people can sometimes be. The essential drama of Austen's story lies in Emma's realization that she has been mistaken about oh! so many things, in her growth as she internalizes that realization, and in her discovering love when she becomes worthy of it. By contrast, Gwyneth Paltrow is perfect from the first scene. She exudes sophistication; she cannot help it. You never feel that she does not know what's what and who's who, and therefore she cannot develop as Austen means her to. And that precludes her from playing Emma to perfection. That said, if you are a Paltrow fan, you will love her in this charming film. She is effervescent.
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50 of 57 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Oh wouldn't it be charming?" January 17, 2003
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
"Emma" was made during a spate of Jane Austen films and miniseries awhile back, and thankfully (except for the fiasco called "Mansfield Park") all of them have been fantastic. Gwyneth Paltrow provides some droll comic relief as the title heroine of the movie "Emma," proving that yes, she CAN act quite well.
Emma Woodhouse (Paltrow) is on a matchmaking rush after she successfully pairs her former governess to a rich widower. Convinced that she can make a good match for anybody, she sets out to pair her penniless, sweet-natured pal Harriet Smith (Toni Collette) with someone more elevated than a prosperous young farmer, such as the eager young minister, Mr. Elton (Alan Cumming). Problem is, Mr. Elton turns out to be in love with Emma, not Harriet.
More romantic complications ensue when a charming bad boy, Frank Churchill (Ewan McGregor in a bad wig) comes to the area and seems to be interested in Emma -- until Emma decides to pair him with Harriet. Emma's good-natured meddling continues unchecked, until it threatens her own happiness and her unspoken love.
"Emma" is probably the frothiest of Austen's novels; there aren't any big scandals or anything like that. Embarrassment is the big opponent in here, but Douglas McGrath has a good sense of how to use the droll humor to best advantage. This is definitely a comedy, except for one or two moments near the end; even there, it's amusing when Emma wails "I love John! I hate John!". The only source of humor that falls flat is Mrs. Elton, who is too overdone in her vulgarity and stupidity. Bit of a cheap laugh there.
Gwyneth Paltrow seems very in-her-element as Emma, managing to be cute and fumbling without ever making Emma seem precious or stupid.
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