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Sense and Sensibility (1971/BBC)

49 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Sense and Sensibility (1971)

From acclaimed writer Andrew Davies comes this enchanting new adaptation of Jane Austen's classic novel about love and marriage. Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve when she falls in love with the charming but unsuitable John Willoughby, ignoring her sister Elinor's warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Elinor, sensitive to social convention, struggles to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Will the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love?


Two sisters--one driven by reckless passions, the other grounded and cautious--struggle with misfortune and romantic mishaps in this splendid 1971 adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. Austen's novels are marvels of witty dialogue, sly humor, and skillfully orchestrated plots. After the first 45-minute episode of Sense and Sensibility, most viewers will be able to guess who Elinor and Marianne Dashwood (Joanna David and Ciaran Madden, respectively) will end up with at the miniseries' conclusion. Austen's genius (well-served by the writer and director) is that you care about every twist and turn along the way. Madden's performance brings out all the yearning and passion that make this often-difficult character engaging, while David ably expresses the quiet ardor that makes Elinor so beloved by Austenites. The topnotch cast makes the most of every role; half of the story's pleasure comes from deliciously odious characters like the penny-pinching Fanny Dashwood and the scheming Lucy Steele. The pacing is brisk and scenes don't suffer from excessive reverence. This adaptation of Sense and Sensibility wonderfully captures Austen's world, where charm may be the inviting face of a corrupt spirit, while seeming stuffiness can mask a steadfast heart. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Sheila Ballantine, Joanna David, Robin Ellis, Clive Francis, Michael Aldridge
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Full Screen, Subtitled, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: September 29, 2009
  • Run Time: 178 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002DY9KR0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,171 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By M. Butler on January 19, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I'm collecting as many video dramatizations of Jane Austen's novels as I can lay my hands on. I particularly prefer the "older" BBC versions to some of the newer because of the longer run times ... meaning there is more of the book on the screen. And the British are renown for being "faithful" to their dramatization of classic literature. Although the actors are certainly older than the characters they are portraying, I still liked this version being familiar with so many of those actors from other Masterpiece Theatre and/or BBC productions I've viewed on PBS over the years.

This nearly three-hour version features "salad days" performances by Joanna David, Patricia Routledge, Robin Ellis and Clive Frances (adversaries in the POLDARK mini-series) and when you factor in that this 1971 mini-series had never aired in this country made it a "must" purchase. I was not disappointed, and would recommend it to other Austen addicts like myself.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By L. B. Bridges on October 16, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
We have all the existing Jane Austin DVDs. Had to get this one too. I liked it very much. Always like to see how different actors/directors handle Miss Jane. Joanna David is great as Elinor. Robin Ellis is as colorless and shy as I think Miss Austin wanted him to be. No wonder Marianne was underimpressed.
The filming is very old style Masterpiece Theatre similar to The First Churchills. It's a bit stagy, but a very good, satisfying version.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Michael Eldicott on October 21, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This 1971 production is the first of the BBC's 3 adaptations of Sense & Sensibilty and as far as I am aware is presented here on DVD for the first time. It's a passable effort, the casting could be better and it has a somewhat stagey feel, but overall is alright but not outstanding. It runs for about 3 hours, the video and sound quality are excellent and it has subtitles. It's presentation on DVD is marred by advertising and the failure to edit out the inter-episode credits. Probably only for Jane Austen die-hards. Now, what about the 1967 version of Pride & Prejudice (with Celia Bannerman and Lewis Fiander)?
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 17, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
OK, Willoughby's wig is appalling. Marianne is painfully earnest and self-absorbed (but that's the point, isn't it?). Yet this BBC adaptation of the Austen Classic has lots to offer British TV fans. Notably, Joanna David (Mrs Gardiner in the Colin Firth P & P) as Elinor - exuding class and proper reserve in every facially nuanced expression, Patricia Routledge (Keeping Up Appearances) wonderfully larger than life as the warm-hearted if gossipy Mrs Jennings, and Robin Ellis (of Poldark fame) underplayed but brilliant in scene of excruciating embarrassment when Edward Ferrars arrives to find his love closeted with his now deeply regretted fiancee Lucy Steele, and to make matters worse is then championed by the unwitting Marianne. Priceless!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amy Smith on November 16, 2009
Format: DVD
I had to have this recently retrieved from the vaults Austen adaptation because I try to see every filmed take on her works. Joanna David truly shines as Elinor. Madden's Marianne is problematic at first; she seems so thoroughly self-absorbed, that you doubt how her sister can be so attached to her. Although too much of the dialogue is not true to the novel, the screenplay succeeds well in depicting the sobering effects of genuine emotional suffering in Marianne. She is genuinely less trite, and much more introspective after her ordeal. Although her looks will always be a draw, the viewer knows that the way has been paved for her to experience the genuine unconditional love which Willoughby's fear of poverty prohibited....It was a joy to see a younger Patricia Routledge in the role of Mrs. Jennings!.....It was however, easier to see Sir John Middleton as a well-respected Shopkeeper of sorts than as a fine country gentleman, although he accurately depicted the warmth and generosity of Austen's creation......The Steele sisters were dead-on; they were as grasping and uncultured as Jane Austen showed us. We must understand that we can't "hate on" Lucy too much. In that era, lower Middle-Class (and some genuinely Middle-Class) mothers bordered on socially "prostituting" their daughters to make up for the lack of a real dowry. There was such a fear that an unmarried daughter would settle into spinsterhood and further drain a family's meager resources, that mothers (and sometimes fathers) would literally brainwash their daughters into utilizing excessive flattery, and overall catering to the landed gentry as a key weapon in their arsenal to trap a wealthy man. Such a man could perhaps elevate the standard of living of the gal's entire family!......Not without imperfections, this adaptation of Sense&Sensibility is still worth watching.
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33 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Z Hayes HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on October 27, 2009
Format: DVD
When this popped up in my Netflix queue, I was excited because I'm quite an Austen fanatic, and have most of the DVDs of the various adaptations. I had never watched this particular BBC adaptation, and so was eager to watch it before purchasing it. I found this to be a tepid adaptation of Austen's classic and the worst of all the adaptations. My ranking of the various adaptations of Sense and Sensibility as as follows:
The movie version starring Emma Thompson (1995) - there's nothing I dislike about this adaptation:)
Sense and Sensibility (BBC, 2008 - haunting score, beautiful cinematography, faithful in most respects, and excellent casting, especially the role of Elinor, which was played by Hattie Morahan)
Sense and Sensibility (BBC, 1981 - very faithful to the novel, but the actors are not very appealing)

This 1971 BBC adaptation is truly pathetic - the acting by some of the characters seem over the top, and the portrayal of Sir John was truly annoying. The actor playing Willoughby was the least attractive of all the Willoughby's in the various adaptations and I felt he was horribly miscast. The actors playing the sisters, Elinor and Marianne were well-cast, especially the character of Elinor, portrayed by Joanna David, who coincidentally went on to play Elizabeth Bennet's (Jennifer Ehle) aunt in the iconic 1996 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Joanna David's Elinor is sweet and sensible, and shines in her role. The other notable actor was Patricia Routledge as Mrs Jennings. Routledge went on to attain fame in her role as the pompous Mrs Bucket in "Keeping Up Appearances".

The feature itself runs about 3 hours, and there are some changes in the dialogue compared to Austen's novel.
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