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Sense & Sensibility Part One

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Well, the seduction scene at the beginning we’d all been warned about really didn’t show much of anything, nor did it reveal the identity of the seducer. Even though I know the story, it makes it feel very disconnected from the main action at Norland with Mr. Dashwood’s death.

First major quibble with this adaptation: why is Marianne calling Fanny “aunt” when Fanny is their sister-in-law?

The first half hour of the movie didn’t seem much different than the 1996 Emma Thompson version—down to the scene (not from the book) of Margaret on the floor in the library.

Speaking of Margaret, Andrew Davies seems to have taken Emma Thompson’s lead on the character—she is more closely related to Thompson’s version of the character than how the character appears in the book.

Also, at times, several of the characters seemed to have taken their acting direction from the Emma Thompson version—especially the actress playing Fanny, who seemed to have studied her lines by repeated watchings of her predecessor in the role.

First thing out of my mouth when Sir John Middleton walked onto the screen was: “Oh my goodness! It’s Mr. Weasley!” He looks absolutely hysterical in the wig—almost as if it’s a send-up rather than a serious costuming choice.

I must say I’m really enjoying David Morrissey as Colonel Brandon—though I’m having a hard time not seeing him as a young Liam Neeson. It was also nice to see Marianne smiling at him when he turned the pages of music for her instead of being quite so heartlessly cold to him the way Kate Winslet was in the theatrical version.

Another quibble: never, not once, in the book does anyone call Elinor “Ellie.”

All in all, I’m enjoying the adaptation. It does seem quite a bit like Andrew Davies took Emma Thompson’s screenplay from 1995 and extended it with new scenes and with scenes (and characters) that were left out from the book. There have been some obvious diversions from the book, but those haven’t really bothered me.

I do have to say, I like Kate Winslet so much better than Charity Wakefield as Marianne. Hattie Morahan is growing on me, but I don’t think she’ll be any less plain and homely next week than she was this week. I do think the actor playing Willoughby was miscast, but that could be just because he suffers in comparison to Greg Wise’s portrayal in the 1995 version.

Next week, my “head to head” comparison between the actors in key roles in this first installment will be posted on the Jane Austen Today blog. I’ll be sure to announce it here when it’s up!

  1. Sunday, March 30, 2008 10:04 pm

    Yeah I don’t get the “aunt” thing, either. I missed the Ellie bit too…oh well, I’m planning on rewatching this ep tomorrow or Tuesday (maybe both! LOL!). I am really enjoying “Mr. Weasley” as John Middleton. 🙂 And I LOVE Hattie as Elinor…I think she’s gorgeous…very classy.
    It is weird, though, because this does feel in many ways like an extension of the Emma Thompson film…I’m not feeling like there’s a lot of new interpretations or views of the characters being brought to the table…which feels a bit strange.


  2. Monday, March 31, 2008 1:49 am

    I feel as you do: this adaptation seems like an echo of the 1996 film in so many respects, especially with the characters of Margaret and Edward. Sometimes I have to ask myself, where is Jane in all this? Andrew Davies loves to play fast and loose with her plot, words, and intent. As for Kate Winslet vs. Charity Wakefield as Marianne, I’ll let my avatar speak for itself!


  3. Monday, March 31, 2008 9:58 am

    I’m liking it so far. I had the same reactions as you, Kaye. “Mr. Weasley!” and “Colonel Brandon reminds me of Liam Neeson.” I saw a lot of echoes from the 1995 version (including the similar tight-mouthed delivery of the actress playing Fanny), but am pleased to see the extended cast of characters.

    You didn’t mention, but we also thought the actor playing Edward reminded us quite a bit of Hugh Grant’s performance. I prefer this actor, but they have a similar look. I’ve never read S&S, so perhaps it’s simply a case of both actors accurately portraying the character?


  4. Monday, March 31, 2008 10:02 am

    I didn’t really notice the physical resemblance between Dan Stevens and Hugh Grant until I was putting together side-by-side comparisons for the guest blog for Jane Austen Today. Looking at them together, there is no denying the two actors greatly resemble each other. But I much prefer Dan Stevens’s acting to Hugh Grant’s.


  5. Monday, March 31, 2008 1:14 pm

    I looked up the composer for this miniseries on the IMDB…and I should’ve known! The composer is Martin Phipps (of North & South fame). I thought the music was a definite highlight of this production…absolutely beautiful. I wish some of his stuff was available on CD!


  6. Monday, March 31, 2008 1:30 pm

    See, and here I was thinking that the music wasn’t nearly as good as Patrick Doyle’s score for the 1995 version!


  7. Monday, March 31, 2008 2:17 pm

    Let me guess, the confrontation between Col Brandon and Willoughby wasn’t in the book. Am I right? I’m enjoying this version, but I think I still prefer Emma’s. OH, I caught the “aunt” thing too–I know some people refer to older relations as aunt/uncle. For example, my kids call their cousins who are older aunt and uncle. That’s my best guess.


  8. Monday, March 31, 2008 2:21 pm

    No, Geo, that confrontation never occurred. And while there is truth to what you say about using honorary familial titles for older relatives (for example, my cousin’s children might call me “Aunt”), in this case it’s completely wrong—not only does it not appear in the book (they call her Fanny, if I recall), she’s within a few years of their ages—possibly ten years older—but definitely not old enough to require some kind of distinction like “aunt.”

    To me it comes across that Andrew Davies didn’t like the idea that a man would treat his stepmother and half-sisters the way John treated Mrs. Dashwood, Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret, so he decided to make John the brother of Mr. Henry Dashwood instead of the son.


  9. Monday, March 31, 2008 2:44 pm


    Not so sure about that. I’m pretty certain I heard Elinor refer to John as “our brother” (is a good hearted man) in conversation with Mrs. Dashwood. So the “Aunt” is rather inexplicable.


  10. Monday, March 31, 2008 2:53 pm

    I’ve saved it on my DVR, so I’ll have to go back and watch it again while I’m not doing something else (like blogging!) to see if I can figure that part out.


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