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Sense & Sensibility (Special Edition)
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Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Kate Winslet and Hugh Grant star in this captivating romantic comedy that swept the Ten Best Lists and was named the Best Picture of the Year by the Golden Globes(r). Based on Jane Austen's classic novel, Sense and Sensibility tells of the Dashwood sisters, sensible Elinor (Thompson) and passionate Marianne (Winslet), whose chances at marriage seem doomed by their family's sudden loss of fortune. Rickman, Grant, and Greg Wise co-star as the well-intentioned suitors who are trapped by the strict rules of society and the conflicting laws of desire.
- Audio commentary by 'Emma Thompson' and producer Lindsay Doran
- Audio commentary by director Ang Lee and co-producer James Schamus
- 'Emma Thompson' 's Golden Globe acceptance speech
- Deleted scenes
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Top Customer Reviews
More than simple romances, Jane Austen's novels are delicately constructed pieces of social commentary, written from her rural Hampshire's perspective. Mostly confined to life in her father's parish, she was nevertheless well aware of early 19th century England's society at large, and fiercely critical of the loss of morals and decorum she saw in its pre-industrial emergent city life. Moreover, experience and observation had made her acutely aware of the corsets forced onto women in fashion terms as much as by social norms, confining them to inactivity and complete dependency on their families' and their (future) husbands' money. And among this movie's greatest strengths is the manner in which it maintains that underlying theme of Austen's writing and brings it to a contemporary audience's attention. "You talk about feeling idle and useless: imagine how that is compounded when one has no hope and no choice of any occupation whatsoever," Elinor Dashwood (Thompson) tells her almost-suitor Edward Ferrars, and when he replies that "our circumstances are therefore precisely the same," she corrects him: "Except that you will inherit your fortune - we cannot even earn ours."
Rescuing much from the first draft dramatization of Austen's novel and amplifying where necessary, Emma Thompson and director Ang Lee ("who most unexplainably seems to understand me better than I understand myself," Thompson said in her mock-Austen Golden Globe speech) produced a movie scrupulously faithful to what is known about Austen's world and at the same time incredibly modern, thus emphasizing the novel's timeless quality. Paintings were consulted for the movie's production design, and indeed, almost every camera frame - both landscapes and interiors - has the feeling of a picture by a period painter. Thompson cleverly uses poetry where the novel does not contain dialogue; and again, she does so in a manner entirely faithful to Austen's subtleties - most prominently in the joint recital of Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 by Marianne Dashwood (Kate Winslet) and John Willoughby (Greg Wise), where an ever so slight inaccuracy in his rendition of a sonnet he claims to love foreshadows his lacking sincerity.
"Sense and Sensibility" revolves around Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, their quest for a suitable husband, and the sisters' relationship with each other. Emma Thompson maintains that she did not write the screenplay with herself as Elinor in mind and would not have been accepted for that role but for the success of her previous films ("Howards End," "The Remains of the Day"); yet, it is hard to imagine who could have better played sensible Elinor: "effectual, ... [possessing] a coolness of judgment, which qualified her, though only nineteen [and thus considerably younger than Thompson], to be the counselor of her mother." And real-life 19-year-old Kate Winslet embodies sensitive, artistic Marianne: "eager in everything; [without] moderation ... generous, amiable, interesting: ... everything but prudent." (As an older actress was sought for that part, her agent presented her as 25.) An early scene in which Marianne recites Hartley Coleridge's Sonnet VII ("Is love a fancy or a feeling? No. It is immortal as immaculate truth") symbolizes the sisters' relationship and their personalities, as Marianne mocks Elinor's seemingly cool response to Edward's budding affection. (Mostly taken from the novel, the scene is embellished by the screenplay's sole inexactitude: Coleridge's sonnets were only published 22 years later). Yet, when all her hope seems shattered, Elinor, in a rare outburst of emotion, rebukes her sister: "What do you know of my heart?" - only to comfort her again when she sees that Marianne is equally distraught.
Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman similarly perfectly portray the sisters' suitors Edward Ferrars and Colonel Brandon, both embodying the qualities Austen considered essential: simplicity, sincerity and a firm sense of morality. Willoughby, on the other hand, while entering the story like the proverbial knight on a white horse who rescues the injured Marianne, does not live up to the high expectations he evokes; he causes Marianne to unacceptably abandon decorum and, just as he misspoke in that line from Shakespeare's sonnet, his love eventually "bends with the remover to remove." Similarly, Lucy Steele (Imogen Stubbs), the near-stumbling block to Elinor's happiness, ultimately proves driven by nothing but an "unceasing attention to self-interest ... with no other sacrifice than that of time and conscience" (Austen) and is, despite a fortuitous marriage, as marginalized as the Dashwoods' greedy sister-in-law Fanny (Harriet Walter). Conversely, the boisterous Sir John Middleton and his garrulous mother-in-law, while annoying in their insensitivity, are essentially goodnatured; and marvelously portrayed in their flawed but warmhearted ways by Robert Hardy and Elizabeth Spriggs.
"Sense and Sensibility" came out at the height of the mid-1990s' Jane Austen revival. Of all movies released then, and alongside 1996's "Emma" (which has "Hollywood" written all over it) and the BBC's "Pride and Prejudice" (which finally established Colin Firth as the leading man in the U.S. that he had long been in Britain), Emma Thompson's "Sense and Sensibility" is one of those adaptations that future generations of moviegoers will likely turn to in years to come. And it is truly an experience not to be missed.
The Complete Novels of Jane Austen (Wordsworth Library Collection)
Jane Austen Collection (Sense & Sensibility / Emma / Persuasion / Mansfield Park / Pride & Prejudice / Northanger Abbey)
Pride and Prejudice (10th Anniversary Collector's Set) (A&E, 1996)
Howards End - The Merchant Ivory Collection
Shakespeare's Sonnets (Folger Shakespeare Library)
Sonnets from the Portuguese: A Celebration 0f Love
The movie focuses primarily on the two oldest sisters of the Dashwood family - Elinor (Emma Thompson) and her younger sister Marianne (Kate Winslet.) Elinor is practical and independent-minded, caught between her societal position as a woman and what she wants for herself. In contrast, Marianne is impetuous, artistic, passionate; she pursues her emotions as though nothing else matters. When both sisters fall in love with different men, they react very differently to the awakening of their affections.
The acting in this film could not have been any better. Although critics have complained that Emma Thompson is too old for the part of Elinor, she at once dispels all doubts with her expert performance. She becomes Elinor so thoroughly that it's difficult to imagine another actress tackling this role. As the romantic Marianne, Kate Winslet is charmingly breathless; she captures the essence of her character with seemingly no effort. Hugh Grant is awkwardly sincere as Edward, and the normally sinister Alan Rickman portrays with heartbreaking honesty the love-struck Colonel. To bring all this talent together, Ang Lee provides nuanced direction that captures both the beauty and the humanity of Austen's novel.
On the surface, this is a quiet movie, but underneath the turmoil of life - whether in Austen's time or ours - simmers. Viewers who enjoy character-driven films should love it.
While I watched and rewatched this when I was younger, it has still been several years since I watched it the last time. I was surprised to find myself moving the couch closer to my tv in a weird attempt to see the actors/actresses' faces better. I think modern day movies (with modern-day big budgets) must have more frequent close-ups of actors'/actresses' faces, because I found myself wishing to see more of those wonderfully subtle, and oh-so-British, fleeting facial expressions. I suppose less camera angles was a budget issue, but even with that, this movie is a timeless classic and well worth anyone who loves a well-told Jane Austen story.
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