Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sense and Sensibility: The Movies

2008 mini-series (BBC)
This version follows the story very closely. I always like it; although I take care to skip the infamous first scene - which is not at all necessary to the story, and anything mentioned about it in the book is extremely discreet. This version has my favorite Edward and Margaret. Some scenes that were in both this movie and the 1995 movie were not in the book as I expected…which must mean, they copied! (Ooh..) I did not so much like the “atmosphere” of this one - the way it was filmed, the light, and such. The music is tolerable. Some of it is nice, but some I found rather irritating. Likewise with the costumes. On some of the dresses, the waistline was too low for a proper Regency look. I think there are less low necklines than in many Jane Austen films, except for the shockingly low dress Marianne wears near the end (and, unfortunately, on the front cover). The dueling scene with Col. Brandon and Willoughby seemed a little strange to me - it was barely even hinted at in the book (which never mentioned swords, I might add). The building used as Barton Park is, I believe, the same as Donwell Abbey in Emma (2009). I have learned to play the piano song Col. Brandon gives Marianne in the movie, and I have been enjoying it very much. All in all, I think this is a very good Sense and Sensibility. (Excluding, of course, that scene before the opening credits).
Elinor: Hattie Morahan
Marianne: Charity Wakefield
Edward: Dan Stevens
Col. Brandon: David Morrissey

1995 (Columbia Films)
Watching this movie was my introduction to Jane Austen. It’s a lovely movie. I much prefer the general feel of this one to the 2008 version. The music, written by Patrick Doyle, is beautiful, and the soundtrack may very well be my favorite CD. However, many things in the book are changed - some characters themselves completely left out, mainly Miss Steele (Lucy’s older sister) and Lady Middleton (along with her children). Some of the story is changed; some of it may be for the purpose of condensing. Emma Thompson, who plays Elinor (and who wrote the script) was in mid-thirties at the time. In the movie she’s supposed to be 27; but still, the book says she’s 19. Alan Rickman, who played Col. Brandon, was too old as well. He is supposed to be 35 in the book, but not in the movie I gather, since Mrs. Jennings refers to his former romantic attachment as “twenty years back.” One of my favorite quotes from S&S - “The more I know of the world, the more I am convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love” is not in the movie, I think (although it is in the trailer, which I found interesting.) I certainly recommend this one.
Actors/actresses (besides those mentioned above):
Marianne: Kate Winslet
Edward: Hugh Grant

1981 mini-series (BBC)
The first time I tried to watch this I didn’t finish it. It was very slow-moving and like a play, and the actors themselves were annoying me. I finished it a few months later with one of my sisters, and I was dissatisfied with how they ended it. And they left out Margaret! Very sad. Unfortunately I haven’t seen it since I read the book, but I doubt there is anything much off-track from the real story. I shall probably watch it again sometime to better compare it to the book.
Elinor: Irene Richards
Marianne: Tracey Childs
Edward: Bosco Hogan
Col. Brandon: Robert Swann

1971 mini-series (BBC)
Since it is even older than the one above, I expected to find this one even less well-made, and less able to hold one’s attention, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it better, in my opinion, even though the beginning was not very promising. As far as the quality of the filming, etc, it was probably about the same, although the costumes might have been a little better on the 1981 one, I don’t really remember. I was not even aware of this one until about a month ago. I think the back cover of the DVD mentioned that it wasn’t available in the U.S. until then, which was 2009. I found it a little more different from the book than I had expected. They changed and added a few things, and there was no Margaret in this one, either. Joanna David, who played Elinor, is probably the closest to 19 than in any of the other movies. The newer two are 30ish and 35ish. Joanna was about 24. She was Elizabeth’s Aunt Gardiner on Pride and Prejudice (1995), and it was interesting to see her so much younger. I always like to find out about a Jane Austen movie I’ve never seen, so I was happy to watch it. If you have seen the newest two and still want more, I recommend it. It has some scenes - and some of my favorite S.&S. quotes - which those two are entirely without.
Actors/actresses (besides the one mentioned above):
Marianne: Ciaran Madden
Edward: Robin Ellis
Col. Brandon: Richard Owens (I didn’t like that Brandon, by the way.)

     As to my favorite, it is a very hard decision between 1995 and 2008. I like the music & lighter feel of the 1995 one so much better, yet the 2008 version follows the story more closely. Edward I much prefer from 2008, and Willoughby I much prefer in 1995 (Greg Wise). (Why would Marianne ever fall for the likes of Willoughby portrayed by Dominic Cooper in 2008?) Col. Brandon is also hard to decide - while Alan Rickman (1995) was too old, I think David Morrissey didn’t do as well acting. Where the book says something like “with a voice full of emotion”, he just…says it. I can never decide on Elinor either, and with Marianne, sometimes I prefer her looks in the 2008 one, but I might like Kate Winslet’s portrayal better - more dramatic, perhaps?
     I suppose I’ll go for Columbia Films’ version in 1995. It just seems to better capture the mood of Jane Austen’s novel. I like the trailer better than the 2008 preview in any case, so here it is. (And for some reason it has music from Little Women…)

I love to know who likes what, so feel free to comment, and please vote for your favorite. :-)

Note: Please vote only if you have seen more than one version. ;-)

Which is your favorite version of Sense and Sensibility?

 free polls

June 2011:
Miss Elizabeth from Elegance of Fashion and I put together a Sense and Sensibility comparsion of the 1995 and 2008 versions when we were guest posting at Austenitis; if you care to read it, here are the links:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four


Elegance of Fashion said...

Sense and Sensibility is my second favorite Jane Austen novel. I love the 1995 adaptation. I haven't seen the others except for a few clips. Thanks for the post! :-)

Melody said...

Thanks for commenting! =) Hopefully you will be able to see the 2008 one sometime soon.

Charity U said...

I too have only seen the 1995 version. The music is great on there, isn't it? :) I do love that version. I did kinda want to see the 2008 S&S...hope it's better the 2005 P&P!

I voted for Mr. Darcy as my favorite JA hero...but Mr. Knightley is a very close second. Thinking it over...yes, Mr. Darcy wins. Barely.

Melody said...

Yes, it's definitely better than P&P 2005. ;-) Way better. Like I said, just skip the first scene, and everything's okay. ;-)

Thanks for voting on the sidebar. =)

Lizzie said...

I love the 2008 S&S!! Just skip the first scene like you said, and I think it's lovely! I'm obsessed with the song Colonel Brandon gives Marianne, and I was wondering if you've discovered some sheet music for it, or if you're just one of those fortunate pianists who can play by ear? I'm terribly dependent on sheet music, and desperate to play that piece! I've tried picking it out some, but I'm pretty hopeless. ;) Thanks, and great review!

Melody said...

Ooh, I'm so happy you asked! I did indeed use sheet music, which you can find a link to here:

Since somebody transcribed it it isn't 100% accurate to the movie, but it's pretty close. Actually, if you compare the songs in the movie carefully, when she practices it and then plays it at Barton Park it's different than when she plays it on Col. Brandon's piano at the end. The sheet music is closer to the latter.

There's also another song in case you're interested, here:

The channel has TONS of songs from period dramas, all with sheet music, so if you've seen any others you'll probably want to browse around. :)

Thanks for stopping by! Oh, and let me know, if you will, that you got this comment so I know whether to actually stop over by your blog and leave the information there. :)

Lizzie said...

Hi Melody!
Oh my goodness, it's perfect!! Thank you so much! I am incredibly excited! I will definitely browse for some other pieces too.

You have a wonderful blog. I'll definitely be back to read more! =)

Miss Dashwood said...

You know, I wonder if that music they use in the trailer was actually "stolen" from LW or if it's just standard Columbia Pictures music that they've used in multiple things. Hmmmmm.

Also I really want that pink dress of Marianne's in the first picture. Isn't it PURTY?

Melody said...

But if that's the case, WHY would it be on the LW SOUNDTRACK, credited to that composer? Hmmmm? (It's the 'Orchard House/Theme', you know.)
Yessss. I wish there was a pattern for that dress. :)

Would you rather hear the story...

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