The latest film adaptation of Jane Austen’s satire on societal roles, Emma, arrives on Blu-ray after a brief theatrical run (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) and pay per view window.
The Production: 4/5
Emma (Anya Taylor-Joy) is a spoiled, entitled rich girl approaching womanhood who loves to play matchmaker. When her matchmaking skills cause her to lose Miss Taylor (Gemma Whelan), a close friend that was more like a mother to her, she does almost everything she can to keep her new found friend, Harriet (Mia Goth), from marrying her true match, Robert Martin (Connor Swindells). One of Emma’s real problems is that she often has no filter, often saying something that is hurtful to someone before thinking first. She also lives at home with her hypochondriac father (Bill Nighy), with Mr. Knightley (Johnny Flynn) often stopping by the estate just to have some company. But can she put her matchmaking skills to the test and match herself to the ever-absent Frank Churchill (Callum Turner) before he falls in love with someone else? Or has her true love been under her nose all this time?
Jane Austen’s Emma. has been adapted for the screen multiple times for both the small and big screen, starting with a live production on the BBC in 1948, a 1996 TV movie for ITV starring Kate Beckinsale in the title role, a 1996 movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow, the 1995 movie Clueless starring Alicia Silverstone written and directed by Amy Heckerling, a four-part BBC mini-series in 2009 to name but a few. So, you may ask, did we really need yet another adaptation now in 2020? My initial reaction was, “Not really,” but first-time director Autumn de Wilde has assembled an impressive cast and a smart screenplay by Eleanor Catton that quickly made me change my mind. Anya Taylor-Joy makes the role of Emma her own, not just in her line delivery but in her screen presence as well. Bill Nighy as Emma’s father is simply hilarious by playing it straight and understated. The production design by Kave Quinn is lush and often quite beautiful. Director Autumn de Wilde brings a sense of fun on her fresh spin of this classic tale.
3D Rating: NA
Emma. was captured at 4.5K resolution on Arri Alexa LF cameras and completed as a 4K digital intermediate. Universal has decided (at this time) to forego a physical media UHD release (the movie is available digitally in UHD) and instead release it on Blu-ray. The 1080p AVC-encoded transfer is simply stunning. This is a bright and vivid picture with colors that appear natural and not overly saturated. Contrast is also excellent, with deep blacks that still retain detail in low light sequences. Detail is sharp throughout, highlighting fabric textures and facial features. Another terrific Blu-ray from Universal.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track isn’t likely to wow your friends in its design, but it does complete its job to perfection. This is a dialogue-driven movie, and this track excels at delivering clear and understandable dialogue throughout. Music and ambient sound effects round out the mix, helping to provide a wide and sometimes expansive soundfield. LFE doesn’t have all that much to do, other than provide some of the sound effects and music a nice rounded low end.
Special Features: 3.5/5
Deleted Scenes (1080p; 13:24): A total of ten scenes are included – Miss Smith Waits for Tea; Mr. Elton and the Portrait; It’s Dark in Here; I Never Dine With Anybody; Gossip at the Haberdashery; Let Us Pay a Call on Jane Fairfax; Freshen the Sponge, Bartholomew; Dressing Miss Woodhouse; A Post for Dear Jane; and You Owe Me No Apologies.
Gag Reel (1080p; 10:53)
A Playful Tease (1080p; 4:57): Casting, rehearsals, and on and off screen friendships.
The Autumn Gaze (1080p; 4:46): A look at director Autumn de Wilde.
Creating a Colorful World (1080p; 4:48): A look at the film’s production design.
Audio Commentary: The track features director Autumn de Wilde, writer Eleanor Catton, and director of photography Christopher Blauvelt as the discuss various aspects of the production.
Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy on Movies Anywhere.
Emma. was a delight to watch, and Universal’s Blu-ray presentation was outstanding.