432 of 444 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2008
Jane Austen fans have reason to rejoice. After a mixed repertoire of new Austen adaptations, BBC has done it again with a pleasurable, charming and faithful adaptation to "Sense & Sensibility."
No doubt this version of `Sense & Sensibility' will be compared to the popular and well-loved 1995 film version starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet. And it certainly has big shoes to fill. After all, the 1995 version was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, won Emma Thompson a Best Adapted Screenplay award and catapulted then-unknown Kate Winslet to stardom. And while that version sets the bar for all other versions that follow, even its most faithful fans would certainly admit that it did have its flaws. For one, at a 2-hour or so running time, the audience was treated to a few excised characters, the absence of some key scenes from the book and some actors who were noticeably too old for their roles.
Nevertheless, I approached this new S&S with some trepidation. I felt that there was no way for this version to top (or even equal) the one from 1995. Imagine my surprise when I found myself totally captivated by the end of this miniseries. While it started slowly, it became more and more enchanting as it went along and I found myself falling in love with most of the characters.
Among its successes are as follows (WARNING - SPOILERS GALORE!!):
1 - A strong screenplay by Andrew Davies. After penning the screenplay to such period drama favorites as the 1995 "Pride & Prejudice" (yes, the one with Colin Firth), "Wives & Daughters," "Middlemarch," "Daniel Deronda" and the new delightful "Northanger Abbey," Andrew Davies is well-known among period drama fans. This strong screenplay manages to stay true to the spirit and tone of the book and Davies successfully brings the novel to life.
2 - Brilliant casting overall. While there are a couple of lukewarm choices, this version has some of the best actors ever cast for S&S roles. Hattie Morahan, Dan Stevens and David Morrissey shine as Elinor, Edward Ferrars and Col. Brandon. Jean Marsh is aptly haughty as Mrs. Ferrars; Daisy Haggard as Anne Steele is funny and very vulgar; Margaret is bright and delightful; and Janet McTeer lends a certain elegance to Mrs. Dashwood. Unlike the 1995 version, the actors here are closer in age to their book counterparts. While Emma Thompson was 36 when she played 20-year old Elinor, Hattie Morahan is 28 (and could pass for 22). Hattie Morahan's intelligent, warm and brilliant turn as Elinor makes her the heart and soul of this story. And I would be very surprised if the ladies in the audience do not fall in love with either Dan Stevens or David Morrissey (or even Dominic Cooper) by the time the credits roll.
3 - Perhaps the most faithful version of the book to date. This version includes all the major and minor characters from the novel, including Lady Middleton, Mrs. Ferrars, Anne Steele and even Col. Brandon's unfortunate ward Eliza (who were all absent in the 1995 version). The actors chosen also closely resemble their characters in age and appearance. And at a 3-hour running time, there is enough time to cover scenes that were missing from the 1995 version as well as develop the characters and their relationships with each other. Some vital scenes that were omitted from the earlier version are also here, including the meeting with the imperious Mrs. Ferrars, the wonderfully awkward scene where Edward is confronted by his mother regarding his secret engagement (which was only talked about in previous versions) and Willoughby's visit to the Palmer's estate in Cleveland. We are shown Allenham (the estate of Willoughby's aunt) and Col. Brandon's estate, Delaford. The plot closely follows what is in the book and some minor added scenes like the duel between Col. Brandon and Willoughby do not take away from the spirit of the book (some might argue that it evens adds a new dimension to the characters. Besides, who wouldn't want a chance to see more of David Morrissey's Brandon?).
4 - Beautiful scenery and locations. The mansions are aptly grand and stately - namely Norland, Barton Park, Cleveland, Delaford and Allenham - and the Dashwood's cottage is humble and small but situated in a spectacular and romantic location amidst hills and crashing waves.
5 - Overall excellent production values. While the recent slew of ITV Jane Austen adaptations had lower budgets, this has the high production values one would expect from the company that gave us the 1995 "Pride & Prejudice", "North & South," "Wives & Daughters" and the upcoming treasure trove of British acting greats - "Cranford" (based on Elizabeth Gaskell's novel. Watch for it in April 2008, US period drama fans!!). The score, for one, is lovely and I applaud the location managers for finding such wonderful and appropriate locations and settings. (It is truly a shame that "Northanger Abbey," "Persuasion" and "Mansfield Park" did not get quite the same treatment. Only think of how much better these would have been at higher budgets and a 3 or 4-hour running time).
I can count very few shortcomings because I feel that the production team and cast really hit the nail in the head with this one. Some people may not like the fact that this version is more dramatic and not as funny and lighthearted as the 1995 version but I feel that the tone of this version is appropriate. The only things I can find fault with are the casting of Dominic Cooper as Willoughby and Charity Wakefield as Marianne. I have a great fondness for Greg Wise from the 1995 version. He is exactly what I would picture Willoughby to be - tall, handsome, charming and dashing - so Dominic just falls short of this (he would have made a perfect Henry Crawford ("Mansfield Park") though). And while I eventually warmed to Charity Wakefield's portrayal of Marianne, it does not quite compare to Kate Winslet's luminous and memorable performance.
So Jane Austen and period drama fans have reason to be hopeful. Those who were disappointed with the recent versions of "Persuasion" and "Mansfield Park" have something to look forward to. "Sense and Sensibility" is at least as good as (if not better than) the 1995 version and I believe that this will delight Janeites and British drama fans of all ages. This will definitely hold a special place in my British drama dvd collection.
So how does this compare to the other new adaptations? To me, this almost ties (or is a close second to) "Northanger Abbey" and is much better than "Persuasion" and "Mansfield Park." And if you enjoyed PBS Masterpiece's `Complete Jane Austen,' be on the lookout for "Cranford" (starring acting greats Judi Dench, Michael Gambon, Eileen Atkins, Francesca Annis, Imelda Staunton and Leslie Manville - and former Austen drama alumni Simon Woods, Greg Wise and Julia Sawalha) coming in May on PBS.
100 of 106 people found the following review helpful
After a disappointing start to the year in new showings of Mansfield Park & Persuasion, and even Northanger Abbey to some extent (it was good, it could have been better: LONGER for one), Sense & Sensibility finally gets it right! Of course, there are a few 'silly' Andrew Davies moments: Edward chopping wood in a wet, white shirt, the beginning seduction scene...but overall the tone & feel of this adaptation are so far superior to those mentioned above, that I must rejoice finally in being given a good adaptation of a Jane Austen novel this year!
They do a fine job with the story, and the actors are very well suited: I loved Hattie Morahan as Elinor, Dan Stevens as Edward Ferrars, and nothing wrong with David Morrisey as Colonel Brandon. The age difference between Elinor & Marianne was handled much better in this version, and you can really follow the love stories between the characters succintly, and feel right along with them.
I was also incredibly pleased to see the visit that happened to Elinor while Marianne was recovering (those of you who have read the book, know what I am referring to): to have something added back in, rather than edited from the story was great to see!
Content: for those of you worried about content, there is one decent obstacle: the first few minutes of the film are a very sensual seduction scene between a young man and an even younger woman: I would suggest skipping that, and then the rest of the film is pretty family friendly: no language that I can recall, or very little else that would be counted as objectionable.
What a joy to have a new, well-done adaptation of Sense & Sensibility! This is a film to watch over and over again (as I have done countless times already with my region 2 DVD): a delight, and here's to wishing we'll have many more such in the next few years!
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2008
In reality, I wanted to give it 4 1/2 stars but that wasn't an option.
I was disappointed that this wasn't being released until April in the US but with the wonders of youtube, I was glad to get a chance to watch it now. I have seen every version of any adaption of a Jane Austen book ever made and I think this one will become one of my favorites. I was curious to see if it would live up to the 1995 version by Emma Thompson which I love and I am happy to say that it did and even exceeded my expectations. Spoilers below, so beware!!!
What I liked about it:
1. Fantastic casting. My favorites were Hattie Morahan as Elinor and Dan Stevens as Edward. As much as I love Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson, I thought Hattie and Dan really nailed these characters in every possible way. Dan especially played Edward a little softer and less stiff then Hugh Grant did, and it made his character more interesting to watch. Jean Marsh as Mrs. Ferras and Claire Skinner as Fanny were as hateful as they should be. The other supporting cast was excellent too, although I did miss Hugh Laurie as Mr. Palmer. He just added so much to that small character.
2. The length - finally a filmmaker does the book justice!!! It was nice to see the story in its entirety, not so chopped up. I am practically glad to see the characters of Lady Middleton and Anne Steele included (although a little under used). I was especially glad to see the scence when Willoughby comes to the Palmer's house when Marianne is ill. That is one of my favorite scenes in the book and I was glad it was included. The filmmakers also paced it really well so that I never felt it was moving too slowly or getting too dull.
Reason why I would take away ½ a star:
1. The opening minute - the way the seduction of Eliza Williams was filmed, I literally thought I had started watching the wrong movie at first and was about 1 second from turning it off and checking the tape when the credits came up. I was pretty disappointed in how that was handled. If they wanted to include it, I think it could have been a little more tastefully done.
2. Some of the casting - I am still not sure about David Morrissey as Colonel Brandon. It took me a while to warm up to him in that role. It also took me a long time to warm up to Charity Wakefield as Marianne, but I am pretty sure that is because Kate Winslet will always be the perfect Marianne in my head. Dominic Cooper as Willoughby was okay, but he was almost too likeable. The hardest one for me, as a Harry Potter fan, was Mark Williams as Sir John Middleton. I kept trying to figure out what Mr. Wesley was doing in a Jane Austen movie.
3. The way that some of the characters/scenes played - Mrs. Dashwood just seemed a little off to me, I am not sure why. I thought Lucy Steele was almost too likeable. There were actual times that I felt sorry for her and I don't when I read the book. I wasn't a big fan of the dueling scene between Colonel Brandon and Willoughby. While it fit the character and honor of Colonel Brandon, I really think the character of Willoughby wouldn't have had the guts to fight. I also wish a little more had been added to the scene where Willoughby comes to the Palmers. It felt like it got cut short without really getting a sense that Willoughby did really love Marianne and wanted to marry her and that if he had he wouldn't have lost his inheritance as he thought (which is why he married Ms. Grey and her 50 thousand pounds).
Although the reasons why I didn't like it look longer, overall I was really pleased with this adaption of Sense and Sensibility. It just might surpass the new Northanger Abbey to become my favorite of the 4 new movies released by BBC. It is definitely worth checking out and forming your own opinion of.
92 of 111 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2008
We've just finished watching a copy that some friends from Britain brought over.
I didn't think that the Emma Thompson adaption could be topped but it has been. This is by far the definitive dramatic adaptation of this novel to date.
Plus, I'm sure that after you see this superb Andrew Davies screenplay adaptation you will agree with me that Fanny Dashwood must die! She now tops my list of Austen villains. Pride & Prejudice's Mr. Collins now takes the second chair to this greedy, evil, and wicked woman! I hate her with a passion.
Thank you I feel better now. Enjoy the show.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2008
I couldn't help compare this to the earlier version of Sense and Sensibility which won Emma Thompson an Oscar and starred Hugh Grant, Kate Winslet, Greg Wise, and a slew of other wonderful actors. Although the actors are much more age appropriate in this Masterpiece Theater version, I thought that the performances left something to be desired by comparison. I felt also that many scenes were played out almost identically to the earlier version, but with less success. The production all in all had a very melancholly feeling to it with very little to smile about. The portrayals of Willoughby, Marrianne, and Edward Ferrars were weak. The actor who played Edward was very similar to Hugh Grant, who played him in the old version, so much so that I even thought they looked alike. The only difference is that Hugh Grant came off as an awkward sometimes nervous but still likeable character with plenty of witty lines, while the new Edward simply seemed dull. Hardly the object for all of our women to be pining after. Willoughby simply didn't look enough the part for me, and Marrianne simply couldn't stand up to Kate Winslet's portrayal of the same character. With that said, there are still wonderful sets and a few characters from the book which had been ommitted from Emma Thompson's screenplay. And those characters added some color. As I said earlier, overall, the actors were much closer in age to the characters of the book. There were several scenes which were missing from the earlier one that were enjoyable in this new version. The main reason I bought this is because of the bonus feature "Miss Austen Regrets" which I enjoyed very much. Although I am sure a lot of it had to be invented, it covers only the last couple of years of Jane Austens life. The portrayal of Jane was exactly how I imagined the real Jane to be: smart, witty, independent of spirit, and trapped in a time when it wasn't convenient to be any of those things. It is short but definitly worth your time.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2009
Now look I am a guy. I don't own a "Man Purse", am not sure what Quiche is. But I love this movie. (or is that greatly esteem?).
Now for you other men out there, be forewarned, this movie contains no violence involving weapons or explosions. But it does involve great battles of pride, propriety, and passion.
This story, from Jane Austen, talks more to the human condition between men and women than anything you could find in the world of uncensored publications.
This movie's production, the scenes, the actors, all show that although the social norms in the age of Jane Austen have since evolved, their essential nature continues.
So, for you real men out there who wish to understand more about the other side, and perhaps a bit about yourself, put down your tools, and pick up this instruction manual.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Superb! Definitely deserving all the 5 star reviews. Having loved the 1995 version with Emma Thompson's well deserved screenplay Oscar and Ang Lee's brilliant directing, why another version? Three reasons: Flush out more details with nearly three hours, let Andrew Davies(the all time champ of 'Costume dramas/romances' or anything he adapts) have a go at it, and because we can't get enough.
I found myself naturally, and probably unfortunately, comparing the 2 versions, here are the standouts: both screenplays are exceptional. Andrew has the advantage of hindsight and more screen time to create freshness in a well known and loved classic. On the special features, he and the producer discuss how they wanted to advance it. The man is a genius and a hoot of a talker. He added scenes not in the book, but they fit perfectly, e.g., Elinor's and Edward's first meeting, a fun, playful flirting which catches the heroine a bit off guard.
The scenery is to lust after and long for in both, but I prefer the stark, oceanside dwelling, which the girls are forced to endure, better in the 2008 film. The sets and costumes are all first rate, and the expanded shots and attention to detail are equally rewarding.
Now with actors it becomes tricky, a matter of taste, and at times personal like politics. Overall, both versions compared well. Hattie Morahan is fantastic. She speaks with her eyes, restraining her emotions, constantly holding back. A difficult task for an actor especially when everyone else gets to be flamboyant. I love Emma Thompson, no disregard. I believe Kate Winslet a better younger sister, and the two Margarets are just wonderful- in this version, she definitely stands out in humor and cutes. The new Edward is better; although at times, I kept seeing Hugh Grant's portrayal but with more depth; Greg Wise(1995) is the epitome of Willoughby(Davies added an interesting confrontation between him and Elinor near the end) and the new Colonel is more human although both are stiffish and a bit old as appropriately written. The remaining cast for both movies are super; it's a wash which are better.
Which ending? I love what Emma Thompson does in the older one, but the new one is very satisfying and similar.
Which is overall supreme? If you've got the time, don't want to be rushed and want more details including missing characters not seen in the 1995 version than it's the 2008 version by an English nose. Or you can alternate weekends.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2008
I am a Jane Austen Fanatic. I was more than pleaseantly surprised to find that Amazon carries so many titles and versions. My favorites of course are the BBC adaptations. This newest version of Sense and Sensibility covered aspects of the novel that were not presented in the Hollywood version, which I found delightful. A lot less glitz and glamour. More like what I think times were like back when a woman's worth was measured by the type of matches she made.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This is a lovely and lush film. There are some scenes that don't exist in the book (Sense and Sensibilities by Jane Austen) but are hinted at in the backstory or off the pages. This is a lovely adaptation by Andrew Davies. Even when he adds scenes not in the book, he maintains faith to the spirit of the book.
This film has focused more on the differences between the family's life at Norland and their new life in the cottage in Devonshire, than has been the case in other adaptations. There is a lot of use of the sea and the landscape in Devonshire, highlighting the isolation of the Dashwoods from the life that they once had. From being women of leisure, they now live in a cottage with only two servants and must do much of the menial tasks themselves. They are learning but it's difficult for them as they must learn to economize and yet still maintain their manners and style of living as they associate with Sir John and his family and neighbors.
There's obviously a bond between the sisters but where Elinor controls her feelings, Marianne allows her feelings free range. In fact, Marianne at times seems to glory more in showing her feeling to the world than in feeling them herself. Elinor holds her feeling close to herself as treasures, while Marianne paints them on a marquee. In a society where appearance and surface adherence to propriety is more important than the actual propriety, it is dangerous to allow oneself to show what is felt. Elinor's mask of calm protects her from censure or ridicule but Marianne has no such protection as she hides nothing of what she feels.
Because of their character they each comes close to loosing what they love. Davies may have changed, added, deleted, or emphasized some of the books scenes but he's nevertheless maintained the heart and soul of the story. We feel for these people and because of the writing and the directing we get a feel for the rigid society in which they lived.
It's almost impossible for those of us who have grown up in today's vastly different society where women do have rights and can inherit or work at employment of their own choosing to understand the much narrower choices available to women at the Dashwood's level of society. Remembering too, that much of their problems came from their father's son refusing to honor the promise he made to take care of them. Much of the movie revolves around promises made, promises kept, and promises left unfulfilled. Then, as now, a person isn't honorable because of their place in society, the amount of money or status that they have, but because of their actions.
All in all, the film was an excellent rendition of the the novel (as I remember it). Now, I have to slip the book into my reading stack so that I can refresh my mind on the details.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2009
This 2008 Sense and Sensibility adaptation is enjoyable to watch and stacks up well compared to other contemporary film and tv.
In its favor the film benefits from the wonderful story penned by Jane Austen and follows the book faithfully in plot and the sequence. The changes and additions made to the basic plot structure are not malicious or radical. The general essence of Jane Austen's moral universe still comes through. Most of the acting I found very good. The cinematography, sets and scenery were laudable as well. The coastal setting for the Dashwood family's cottage was breathtaking.
But this version is also definitely dumbed down compared to earlier filmed versions and of course the great book itself. Clocking in at almost three hours, the film is longer than the famous version starring Emma Thompson. Surprisingly, given its length, this newest adaptation has a less dense and detailed script, designed apparently for viewers with less interest in or attention for words, ideas and logical progression. The three hours are filled with plenty of beautiful images to replace a demanding script. While the film as mentioned above is faithful to the story in general, more dialogue could have resulted in a richer and deeper story. The effort to spice the story up with the seduction scene opening did not impress me.
But the film's merits vastly outweigh its demerits. It is great to see these talented actors working in a respectable Jane Austen vehicle than in most alternatives. Also, if it motivates more people to read Austen for themselves, it will have produced excellent fruit.