Re-Watch: Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Sense and Sensibility
Director: Ang Lee
Writer: Emma Thompson [here’s my review of her screenplay and production diaries]
Based on: Jane Austen’s novel
Cast: Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, Gemma Jones, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, Greg Wise, Emilie François, James Fleet, Tom Wilkinson, Harriet Walter, Imelda Staunton, Imogen Stubbs, Hugh Laurie, Robert Hardy, Elizabeth Spriggs
Seen on: 20.7.2019
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Plot:
Sisters Elinor (Emma Thompson) and Marianne (Kate Winslet) couldn’t be any more different. Elinor is always calm, collected and responsible, while Marianne is passionate and impulsive. It is no surprise that they find very different men to like as well – Elinor falling for Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant) and Marianne for Willoughby (Greg Wise). But whether they will be lucky with their loves is another question entirely.

I am honestly surprised that I never reviewed this film here on this blog so far – I am sure I have watched it several times since I started this blog. Be that as it may, it is one of my favorite films and I don’t know how many times I saw it already. But I love it every time I watch it again and this time is no different.

The film poster showing Marianne (Kate Winslet) in one image as she laughs, and Elinor (Emma Thompson) in another image, smiling softly.
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Sense and Sensibility the Screenplay and Diaries (Emma Thompson)

Sense and Sensibility the Screenplay and Diaries collects Emma Thompson‘s screenplay for the 1995 film, adapted from Jane Austen’s novel, as well as Thompson’s diaries for the production of the film.
Finished on: 20.7.2019

I really love the film (I’m rather surprised that I never reviewed it here), so when I heard that the script was published, and that there was even additional material in the form of Thompson’s diaries for the production, I knew I had to track it down. And I’m absolutely glad I did. The script itself is an extremely nice read, but the real treat are the diaries – a warm look behind the scenes with a wonderful sense of humor.

The book cover showing two stills from the film, Kate Winslet as Marianne Dashwood and Emma Thompson herself as Elinor Dashwood.
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Sense & Sensibility (2008) [TV Mini-Series]

I think we’ve already established that I’m a sucker for all things Austen but especially Sense and Sensibility. And when I discovered that sexy Dan Stevens played Edward Ferrars in the new BBC adaptation, of course I had to watch it.

Plot (and quoting myself):
For those who don’t know, Sense and Sensibility is the story of two sisters, Elinor (Hattie Morahan) and Marianne (Charity Wakefield). The main focus is on Elinor, the older one. She’s rational, composed, intelligent and feels responsible for everything/one. Marianne seems to be her exact opposite – passionate, outspoken, spontaneous. Both fall in love, Elinor with Edward Ferrars and Marianne with John Willoughby. Of course, that isn’t the end of the story yet.

This 3 part mini-series is surprisingly different from what was done before and what I took from the book. Of course it doesn’t stray wildly from the path, but there are changes. I’m not sure yet whether that is a good thing or not. I still prefer the Ang Lee version, but that’s no surprise. Though Dan Stevens does much more for me than Hugh Grant ever did.

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[SPOILERS if you don’t know the story anyway]

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Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen)

After the utter failure that was The Elegance of the Hedgehog, I needed something to read I knew would be good. So, I resorted to another classic – Jane Austen‘s Sense and Sensibility.

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For those who don’t know, Sense and Sensibility is the story of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne. The main focus is on Elinor, the older one. She’s rational, composed, intelligent and feels responsible for everything/one. Marianne seems to be her exact opposite – passionate, outspoken, spontaneous. Both fall in love, Elinor with Edward Ferrars and Marianne with John Willoughby. Of course, that isn’t the end of the story yet.

[SPOILERS follow]

S&S is my favourite Austen story so far, although I don’t think that will change with her other books. The reason: I identify myself with Elinor A LOT. Like in an unhealthy amount. I watched the movie and I read the book and basically anything she said made me go, “that’s exactly how I see myself! it’s exactly what I’d do, were I a 19th century girl!” [Though I do think that I’m a little less judgmental.] Subsequently, I love Edward Ferrars. He’s so cute and sweet and principled and just tries to do everything right, no matter the cost.

I also really like Marianne. Oh, and Colonel Brandon is my #3 favourite Austen man*, you just gotta love him. I have to admit, the way Marianne get’s married to him irked me a bit. I mean, I love CB, but it’s clear that Marianne does not, at first. And then this quote:

Mrs. Dashwood was acting on motives of policy as well as pleasure in the frequency of her visits at Delaford; for her wish of bringing Marianne and Colonel Brandon together was hardly less earnest, though rather more liberal than what John had expressed. It was now her darling object. Precious as was the company of her daughter to her, she desired nothing so much as to give up its constant enjoyment to her valued friend; and to see Marianne settled at the mansion-house was equally the wish of Edward and Elinor. They each felt his sorrows, and their own obligations, and Marianne, by general consent, was to be the reward of all.
With such a confederacy against her—with a knowledge so intimate of his goodness—with a conviction of his fond attachment to herself, which at last, though long after it was observable to everybody else—burst on her—what could she do?

I mean, Austen does point out that she later comes to love him, but still, basically she’s the payment for Brandon being so nice to help out her sister’s love. And that hurts.

And in the movie it’s not like that. It’s a bit more melodramatic, yes, but melodramatic is what Marianne needs to fall in love. And in the movie, she does.
Another difference between book and movie: Maybe I’m a little good-hearted, if not to say naive, but Lucy Steele in the movie was annoying and a little dumb, but she was not that calculating, was she?

Anyway – if you can’t tell – I just love this book.

*The Ranking so far (knowing Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Emma [though I haven’t read that one yet]):

  1. Edward Ferrars
  2. George Knightley
  3. Colonel Brandon
  4. a cross between Fitzwilliam Darcy and Charles Bingley

Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

Pride and Prejudice is Jane Austen‘s first novel (albeit published only after Sense and Sensibility) and the first novel I read by her. And it’s good. I know why it’s considered a classic.

Although I like Sense and Sensibility a bit better (judging from the movies), I figured I’d start with Pride and Prejudice, because I just saw the BBC version as well as the 2005 movie. [Yeah, I like Jane Austen a lot.] [And a combination between the two movies would be the perfect adaptation.]

Anyway, the story, I think, is widely known, I won’t dive into that right now. If you don’t know it, read the wiki article I linked to above.

Interesting to see the differences between the movie(s) and the book. The book leaves a lot of room for interpretation, mostly by having a lot of dialogue, without specifying how it is said.
So, for example, comparing the two movie version, I wondered, if Charlotte Lucas was actually happy. In the BBC version, she seems really very unhappy with her choice to marry Mr. Collins, in the 2005 movie she seems very content with her situation. And – as I see it in the book – the 2005 version is truer to the original. Charlotte pursues Mr. Collins and goes with seeing eyes into the marriage, knowing exactly what she’s going to get and being satisfied, even if not happy, to get just that. [Also she’s 27, so she doesn’t have much of a choice anymore.]

I was a bit disappointed in Mr. Bennet. I always really liked him and his sarcasm, and that’s not missing in the book, but reading about him, he seems more like an asshole. But still very funny.
And Mrs. Bennet, if that’s possible, is even more annoying in the book.
I always had the secret hope that despite their different tempers and characters and their constant annoying each other, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet actually liked each other, but the book made it very clear that it isn’t so.

I was surprised at how short the whole thing was. I suspected that the book had to be much longer to fit everything that was in the movie, but Austen writes mostly in scenes and describes a lot of things in a couple of sentences. I was really surprised, when the second ball took place already on page 24 (or so). [And I thought, I’d need a month to read it… a week was all it took.]

Summarising, a really good read.