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6 Degrees Entertainment

(Romola Garai, Jonny Lee Miller, Michael Gambon, Tamsin Greig, Rupert Evans, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2010 / BBC Home Video)

Overview: 21-year-old Emma Woodhouse has very little to worry about. She is beautiful, clever, rich, with a comfortable home and some of the best blessings of existence. More than anything, she loves playing matchmaker to her friends and family, so when young, pretty, naive and socially inferior Harriet arrives, Emma decides to indulge her passion.

DVD Verdict: It says something for the enduring qualities of Jane Austen's famous romantic comedy "Emma" that it gets redone every few years for television or the movies. The latest (2009) BBC version reproduces, more or less faithfully, Jane Austen's novel at a length of four hours, framed by excellent production values, featuring superb period sets, costumes, and carriages.

As the story has it, the rich, handsome, and clever Emma Woodhouse imagines herself to be the able matchmaker of the village of Highbury, a role she takes on against the advice of her older and wiser good friend Mr. Knightley. Unfortunately, Emma succeeds mostly in tangling several lives, including her own. Along with some excellent comedy, this story is a coming-of-age experience for the young Emma, in classic Jane Austen style.

Romola Garai is a good fit as Emma, if rather more expressive than some of her film predecessors. Michael Gambon is a superb Mr. Woodhouse, with all the quirks of the original. Johnny Lee Miller at first glance is a bit young for the 16 year age difference with Emma, but he and Romola Garai work around to some genuine chemistry on screen. The supportig cast is good to excellent, especially Blake Ritson as the Reverend Elton and Rupert Evans as Frank Churchill.

"Emma" is very highly recommended to fans of Jane Austen and of PBS Masterpiece Classics. [DST] This is a Widescreen presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Emma's Locations
Emma's Costumes
Emma's Music
Emma's Mr Woodhouse: Interview with Michael Gambon