I vividly remember when the movie Clueless came out. I was 11, and had recently moved to a new town, and was going to summer camp with most of the other girls in town. One early social outing was for a big group of us to go see Clueless, a film that had certainly been well marketed as “super-cool” for the pre-teen set. I was very excited to be included, and it was the first time I went to the movies with friends, and without adults. The movie lived up to everyone’s expectations of humor and glamour. The following year I was able to cajole two friends into seeing Emma with me, and I at least, enjoyed seeing the parallels between the two movies.
Fast-forward a few years, to when I finally read Emma, and it becomes my favorite novel. I was then also able to better understand the nuances of two of my favorite movies. When I got to college and was studying Austen, one surprise was that while most of my professors and teaching fellows decried Austen movie adaptations, they universally admired Clueless. For my 19th Century Novel class, our professor even sponsored a movie viewing after we read Emma. One highlight was my TF extolling the virtues of getting to see the physical embodiment of Emma in Alicia Silverstone. Seeing the film as I got older (and many times since) my appreciation for it has deepened. In each new viewing, I uncover a new example of director Amy Heckerling’s trenchant wit and I marvel at how she was able to so supplely adapt the novel to a very different modern setting.
What do you think of Clueless? How about all the Austen and other ‘trendy’ literary adaptations and updates that followed its success? Do you have any favorite going-to-the-movies stories?