Emma vs Clueless

710 Words3 Pages
The transformation of Jane Austen’s novel Emma into Amy Heckerling’s movie Clueless does not trivialise the original text, but rather, enriches it by repositioning the responder. Clueless allows for a whole new understanding of Austen’s Emma. An apparently superficial teen flick whose onion-like layers of meaning are peeled back one by one. The class structure and social mores evaluated in Emma are transformed in Clueless, reflecting modern values and relationship powerplays. The similarities of each text comments on the universality or unchanging nature to aspects of humanity. It is looking at the modern day equivalents in each text that we see can the contrasting values of these starkly different worlds. Thus, on close examination, comparisons are revealed, making the process a truly enriching transformation. By examining heroines in both texts, we are forced to revisit familiar themes and issues. Heckerling’s characters may use the language of the 1990s and have modern-day interests and occupations, but they depict similar traits as Austen’s characters: they display self-interest, vanity and practise deception but also demonstrate personal growth and perceptive honesty. Heckerling does this in a persuasive and engaging manner in order to target a larger audience. Heckerling conveys a similar message by utilizing and exploiting the technique of film. It is true as Jocelyn Harris writes, “In an age when the visual is said to have superceded the verbal, the movie Clueless provides extraordinary pleasures to people who still read books.” It takes Austen several chapters to introduce her characters – Heckerling is able to do it in seconds through facial expressions, tone of voice, style of dress, gestures, body language and the frame of shot. Thus, Heckerling caters for a wider and more literate audience. Heckerling establishes immediately that Cher will be
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