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Contest: Emma and Cranford

Posted on February 5, 2010 at 4:34 pm

This is a very special contest with not one but two utterly delectable DVD sets, both series based on classic books and both originally shown on PBS.

Emma (2009) is based on the novel by Jane Austen (already filmed with Gwyneth Paltrow and adapted for “Clueless” with Alicia Sliverstone). It is the story of a rich and beautiful young woman who gets into trouble when she tries to arrange the lives of those around her. This luminous new version stars Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller, with Michael Gambon as Emma’s father.

Cranford This gorgeous collection includes both the original miniseries and the sequel, Return to Cranford. Both are based on the Elizabeth Gaskell novels set in the mid-1800’s. The title town is a small traditional English village and the story is a gentle but candid look at the lives of the women in particular as they deal with love, loss, and changes large and small. Sisters Deborah and Matilda Jenkyns (Eileen Atkins and Judi Dench), and their young and slightly more worldly relative Miss Smith (Lisa Dillon) are the kind and understanding center of a community that is sometimes gossipy or prejudiced. Part of its charm is seeing the town adapt to modern ideas and technologies that are both thrilling and terrifying, like the techniques of the new town doctor and the coming of the railroad. The wonderful cast includes Imelda Stanton and Francesca Annis.

TO ENTER: Send an email to moviemom@moviemom.com with Emma/Cranford in the title and answer this question: Who is your favorite Jane Austen character and why? Three winners will be randomly chosen from all eligible entries received before midnight eastern time on February 12. (Legal blah blah below)

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Based on a book Contests and Giveaways For Your Netflix Queue

Amazing Grace

Posted on January 28, 2007 at 10:45 am

Parents should know that this film includes frank descriptions of some of the most profound atrocities of the slave trade, including torture and rape. The painful symptoms of Wilberforce’s long-term illness are also included. The movie’s portrayal of extraordinary leadership, courage, and persistance is in the context of positions taken by other characters that by today’s standards are obviously inhumane and racist.


Families who see this film should talk about why Wilberforce was among the first to see that slavery must be abolished. What was different about the situation in Britain that permitted this to be accomplished years before slavery was abolished in America, and without a war? How are the arguments and tactics adopted by the opposition similar to those used in other great debates, from civil rights to women’s suffrage?

Families who appreciate this movie will want to learn more about William Wilberforce and William Pitt, the youngest prime minister in British history. Families will also appreciate Amistad and the groundbreaking television miniseries Roots. The essay “When Mr. Beecher Sold Slaves in Plymouth Pulpit” describes the actions of abolitionist minister Henry Ward Beecher (brother of Uncle Tom’s Cabin author Harriet Beecher Stowe) took the dramatic step of staging a slave auction to demonstrate its barbarity. Families will enjoy Bill Moyers’ superb PBS special about the history of the hymn “Amazing Grace.”

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