Scene Breakdown: Mr. Knightley Lies Down on the Floor in Emma (2020)

Autumn de Wilde’s Emma is riveting and ridiculously fun in a number of ways, including its addictive soundtrack, but we’re here to break down one of my favorite scenes all throughout the stunning film that is full of them. (We’ll have more in-depth ones than these, but this one, this one’s purely joyous.) 

Knightley exasperated and lying on the floor is the biggest freaking mood in this entire film, and we may never get over it. In Austen’s novels, Knightley is often scolding and notably walking everywhere, but we don’t talk enough about the fact that he’s frequently 100% done with everything. And this latest film shows it to us with a scene that’s worthy of great praise. 

Again, this isn’t an in-depth analysis, this is just joyful, perfectly outlandish and the kind of scene that had all my friends and I screaming like madwomen in our group chats about what a mood it is. Also fitting that it came in 2020 where this was a collective mood we all experienced.

Johnny Flynn is a gift in the scene, too—it’s the way he walks. The exasperated sigh. The throwing of the hat. The removal of the coat. It’s just peak perfection. The fact that it follows his dance with Emma and the almost moment of revealing his feelings is just a big huge joy to dissect. That is all it is—a big huge mood. It’s the way the shot is framed, it’s the way his valet (safe to assume it’s so) walks in then just straight up decides, nope—let him be. 

George Knightley is always done with everyone’s sh!t, but he’s especially done where Emma is concerned. (Or is he? Does he just feel so much he cannot anymore.) He can but he can’t. He will but he won’t. It’s push and pull and sometimes it’s just lying on the damn floor because that’s the only thing that works. (And it does. 10/10 recommend doing so when it’s all just too much, in this case, it being…life.)

Knightley is destroyed. (The theme at this moment tells us so.) And while this scene is riveting, it’s also much deeper than that. It’s a moment of a man falling apart and showing us just how engulfing the emotions he feels are. It’s admirable. It’s nuanced. I keep saying it’s a mood and perhaps that modernizes it a bit, but really and truly, if we look at how often we as human beings just feel so incredibly overwhelmed, we don’t know what to do with ourselves. What do you do to catch your breath? How often do we say: I need to lie down,” and this is a fantastic moment where we actually see it all. And when we dig deeper into the dance, we understand the pieces within him that are crumbling because of Emma. For Emma.

There’s not a single shot in this movie isn’t worthy of being framed—it’s one of the most stunning adaptations to date, and even this perfectly ridiculous shot is glorious in every way. So for now however, we just have to thank Autumn de Wilde and Johnny Flynn for giving us a scene that’s so completely relatable, we’ll always singing its praises. No but seriously, you feel it. And if you claim you don’t, you’re lying yourself.

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