Wednesday, August 3, 2011

4 Period Films with Romola Garai

It’s actually a rare occasion when I see as many as four movies with the same actor/actress prominent roles. I’ve really enjoyed Romola Garai’s acting and the parts she’s played; upon considering this, I determined to do a post about it!

(This is not the order of my favorites, it’s the order of when the movies were made.)
#1: Nicholas Nickleby (2002)                                                                            
            This is based on a Charles Dickens novel about a determined young man whose father dies when he is nineteen, and as he is unable to immediately support them, he, his mother, and his sister go to London, hoping for assistance from their cold, sarcastic, and stingy rich uncle.             
            Romola’s role is Nicholas’ younger sister, sweet and gentle Kate Nickleby. Her uncle finds her employment at a dress shop, while Nicholas is hired as a schoolmaster elsewhere. Her uncle does not provide any assistance when his fellow businessmen behave very un-gentleman-like towards her, one case more serious than the rest; in fact, her uncle even seems to encourage it. Nicholas finds out about her troubles and returns to London, finds a good office position, and without the assistance of their villainous uncle, supports his family as well as Smike, a teen-aged crippled boy who had been treated very badly at the school where Nicholas had taught for a short time.
            Two people fall in love with Kate during the course of the movie – and she marries one of them in the end, at a double wedding with Nicholas and his bride.
            For a collection of screencaps of Romola Garai as Kate Nickleby, please visit this link.
   And here is a fun TRAILER for Nicholas Nickleby.

How I like the movie in general: I think it’s very good! Although it has some deep and sometimes distressing themes (such as a school where the boys are mistreated), it maintains a cheerful and bright feeling. It has an interesting assortment of actors, some of which are American.
-This is the 2nd movie I saw Romola Garai in.
-Kate is not a main character, but she has a prominent role.

#2: Daniel Deronda (2002)
(Based on the novel by George Eliot)
     These first two movies (this one is actually a mini-series) were made in 2002 and are about young men whose first names start with the same letter as their last name; but as to the characters Romola Garai plays in them, they are so different they could be called opposites – one is kind and considerate, the other is selfish and rather snobby.
     (Note: this summary gives some of the story away, but not much you don’t find out before the first half of the movie, or from reading the back of the DVD case.)
      20-year-old Gwendolen Harleth thinks the world revolves around her. She’s beautiful, clever enough, and fairly talented, with enough money to dress herself up. She certainly doesn’t mind attracting the men, even though she is only planning to “send them packing.” She thinks herself incapable of much affection and is not inclined to marry – although marrying for money does occur to her when she finds a rich man who seems interested, but she finds out he has an infamous past…that still affects the present and the future. It is not until her family loses money that she turns her mind back to Mr. Grandcourt; she will do anything rather than bear the degradation of becoming a governess.
     While she is still engaged, she becomes acquainted with Daniel Deronda, a young man she saw abroad (but had never actually met), and who did her a silent, kind service.
     Gwendolen thinks Mr. Grandcourt will do whatever she wants, but she couldn’t have been more mistaken. He marries her so he can control a strong-willed woman, and treats her very badly. Naturally she wants out of the situation, and begins to turn to Daniel for help.
     I kept thinking the whole time (about Mr. Grandcourt): “I hope he dies” “I want him to die”. I shall not say whether or not he does – but it has a tolerably good ending. Gwendolen improves, too.
      For a collection of screencaps of Romola Garai as Gwendolen, please visit this link.

   You may also want to watch the TRAILER – it has quite a bit of Gwendolen in it, though it is short.

How I like the movie in general: I did enjoy it; however, it has a number of inappropriate scenes (and they all include Gwendolen). I watched it with one of my sisters, who skipped them for me. The story is not light (although the lighting and color itself is) and although it ended well for Daniel, I myself wasn’t quite satisfied with the ending. As it is though, I still enjoyed it – what I did see of it.
-This was the 4th role I saw Romola Garai in – quite recently, in fact.
-Gwendolen is a main character.
-Daniel’s adoptive father on here is the same actor who played a villainous man on Nicholas Nickleby.

#3: Amazing Grace (2006)
     Before I really knew anything about this movie, I imagined it would be about John Newton who wrote the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’. Although it is based on a true story, John Newton is portrayed (thought I thought a bit strangely) and the song is sung, it is, in fact, about William Wilberforce and the slave trade.
     Romola’s character in this movie is Barbara Spooner, a bright and lively woman. Barbara’s friend Marianne Thornton and her husband happen to be well acquainted with William Wilberforce (or “Wilber”), and when the Thorntons try to introduce them, they are both disgusted and exasperated by what they know to be matchmaking. However, the next time they see each other and the Thorntons are still scheming, Barbara suggests they pretend to argue, just to irritate the Thorntons. Wilber tries to bring up various subjects on which they might disagree, but they have a very hard time finding anything. Barbara is as involved as possible with the abolition and other political matters. Wilber is reluctant to discuss the slave trade, but Barbara encourages him, and soon finds himself telling her all about it. They stay awake the whole night, deep in discussion.
     Almost needless to say, they marry, and she is there to help and encourage him in his fight to abolish the slave trade, and to share in his joy and triumph when the cause is finally won.
For a collection of screencaps of Romola Garai as Barbara Spooner, please visit this link.
From what I have observed, this seems to be one of Romola Garai’s most well-known roles – I suppose the movie must have been widely acknowledged.
Click here to WATCH THE TRAILER, which as a few glimpses of Barbara in it.

How I liked the movie in general: Well, I didn’t dislike it, but I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to watch it again, at least not for a while. It was gripping, however, and there were at least 6 actors I recognized other than Romola Garai. A lot of people really seem to like it, but what can I say…I’m an inexcusable fan of fictional things.
-This is the 3rd role I saw Romola Garai in.
-Barbara is not really a main character, although the wife of the main character is something.

#4: Emma (2009) 
     This role is definitely her largest out of these mentioned, when she plays a Jane Austen heroine in this four-part mini-series. Most of you reading this, if you haven’t already seen this version, most likely already know the story…but I’ll go on to talk about it anyways.
     Set in Regency England, this story is about Emma Woodhouse, who lives quietly with her fretful father in a small village called Highbury. She is a self-appointed expert on the heart, and since her older sister and her former governess are married and settled, which both happened as she’d planned, she decides to play matchmaker for her “little friend” Harriet Smith. Her life-long friend (also her brother-in-law’s brother) Mr. Knightley warns her that Mr. Elton, the gentleman Emma chooses as a potential husband for her new friend, will never marry Harriet because she is too much beneath him. Used to his admonishings, Emma is determined not to heed to his advice. She soon finds out that the woman Mr. Elton sought to recommend himself to was not Harriet at all, and for a while she has to deal with a heartbroken girl and a disgusted and rather spiteful man. 
     There are soon three arrivals in Highbury: Jane Fairfax, the niece of a chatty long-time resident of the place, followed by Frank Churchill, the step-son of Mrs. Weston (Emma’s former governess), and Mr. Elton’s bride who comes from Bath. Miss Fairfax is reserved as well as more accomplished than herself, and Emma finds it neither easy or desirable to befriend her; but the long-expected Frank catches her fancy for a time.

     Although Emma means well, she always seems to make a terrible mess of things. She learns her lesson, and it turns out just right in the end – she, of course, ending up with her perfect match.
     Some people think her expressions are too exaggerated, and while I can see where they are coming from, I think it’s very appropriate for Emma to be animated. One thing I thought Romola really added well to Emma, which other actresses failed to do, was laugh a lot.
     Here are two clips of the movie.
{Edited 1/16: The clips I had here originally have been removed from YouTube. If you find any good ones, especially of the Emma/Knightley dance scene, let me know!}

For a collection of screencaps of Romola Garai as Emma Woodhouse, please visit this link.

How I like the movie in general: I love it!! Definitely in my top 5 (or maybe 3) movies. Highly recommended! It’s pretty clean too, more so than other Jane Austen movies. (You can read my review of it here.)
-This is the 1st role I saw Romola Garai in.
-Emma is the main character.
-Michael Gambon, who played Mr. Woodhouse, was also on Amazing Grace.
-Johdi May, who played Mrs. Weston, was a prominent character in Daniel Deronda.

My Favorite
If you read what I wrote just there, you’ve probably already concluded that my favorite of the 4 is Emma. It was a little hard not to make the post be mainly about that movie! I think it’s a sparkling adaptation, and I love Romola’s Emma – in fact, when I refer to the actress in everyday conversation, I normally call her “Emma.”

And here we have the signature smile…

Now, what say you? Have you seen any or all of these? Any you want to see? Any you’ve seen that I didn’t mention here? Which is your favorite? Did you like this post? Would you like to see similar ones in the future? I love comments!



Melody Joy ________________________________ said...

I have seen Nicholas Nickleby, Amazing Grace, and Emma and loved all three! I think Romola Garai is one of my favorite actresses if not my very favorite.

Kathryn Ross said...

Wow! Great post! Loved the clips - my daughter and I own all of these on DVD. She had an Emma day with her friend this past Saturday. Have you seen As You Like It with Romola? She's a real hoot in it!

Miss Kathy

Jemimah C. said...

I've seen Amazing Grace and Emma (2009). Both are favorites of mine, and Romola Garai acted wonderfully in them. I would love to watch the other period films she has acted in. Lovely post! Yes, it would be great to see more posts like this on Regency Delight.

Miss Elizabeth Bennet said...

The only one of these films that I haven't seen is Nicholas Nickleby; the rest of the films I've seen. I didn't particularly care for her role as Gwendolen in Daniel Deronda -- there she really irritated me, but I guess it's because of the character that she was given than her acting. But I liked her in both Amazing Grace and Emma. Great post! If you decide to do other posts like this, I would be interested in them!

Abby said...

I've seen all of these apart from Amazing Grace, which I saw a few parts of at school a few years ago. Although I haven't seen either of these, she was also in two other period dramas, Atonement and Vanity Fair.
I would say Emma is probably my favourite, since I love Jane Austen so it's kind of the perfect combination :) I thought she was perfect as Emma.
And I love this post! I'm sure there are other actors and actresses who've appeared in lots of period dramas too, although I can't think of any off the top of my head...
By the way, I love how you mentioned her signature smile at the end! It's so adorable :')


OldFashionedCharm said...

Yay! I was so looking forward to this post and it did not disappoint! You did a wonderful job dear! I love the videos you made, especially the Nicholas Nickleby one! I enjoyed how you told the plot from her character's point of view, that's very unique. Thanks for linking to me and my YouTube channel, I'm so glad I could help!
I've really enjoyed Ramola Garai in almost all of the roles I've seen her in. My favorite is Emma too, that miniseries is right at the top of my favorite films! I keep getting the feeling that I'm missing out by not having seen this Nicholas Nickleby in quite a while. As soon as I'm able this film will be added to my DVD collection!
This was such a lovely post, I hope you do others like this in future.

~Miss Laurie :)

Melody said...

Thanks for your comments everybody! I enjoyed reading all of them!!

Miss Kathy,
I'm glad you liked the post! The Emma day sounds like something I would do! In fact,I got together with three other young ladies before to watch Emma! It was very fun.
I haven't seen that one, although I heard she was in it.

Miss Bennet,
Gwendolen didn't irritate me as much as she did my sister...but I was perhaps biased because of the actress. Tehe ;-)

There are lots! I just don't usually see 4 where they have a prominent role...although I hear of them.
I'm glad you liked the smile. I couldn't resist! tehe. ;-)

Miss Laurie,
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. =)

Pallavi said...

Great post!
I too like Emma the best. She pairs well with Jonny Lee Miller I guess.
I think there's another Romola Garai movie- I Capture the Castle, maybe you can write about it too, include it in some post later.

~Miss Raquel said...

What a great post!! I definitely need to see more movies with Romola. I really like her acting! I have only seen her in 'Amazing Grace' and 'Emma'...of all the ones that you listed. I need to see the others!! :P

~Miss Raquel

Miss Dashwood said...

Romola Garai is so beautiful. I've only seen her in Emma, but I hope to see Amazing Grace soon. I think she captured Emma's vivacious, exuberant personality perfectly. And I do love her facial expressions!
I had no idea she played Kate Nickleby--but on reflection, I think she'd do a good job. I've always pictured Kate as being petite and dark-haired, but I could see how Romola Garai might portray her. (Ugh, I used the word "portray" twice in one comment--I hate doing that!)
Lovely post!

Melody said...

Oh. Haha. You did comment on this, Miss Dashwood.
Silly me. >.<

marilyn said...

I truly enjoyed your comments on the movies and the clips you included..I had just watched "I Capture the Castle" and was searching for more Romula online. I knew very little about her!...and I am thinking that her Emma will be fantastic when I see it soon...

I hope you like "I Capture the Castle" as well.

warm regards,

Would you rather hear the story...

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